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Plymouth University v Salcombe (0-48)

Tuesday 11 February, 2020, by John Sprague

As the score suggests this was a one sided match against a Uni side that is struggling for numbers now that their 4th team has dissolved. Salcombe scored 8 tries, 4 from Kieron Clarke who is rapidly improving at no 8, and as coach Neil Elliott said afterwards, it should have been many more had not a lust for individual glory caused obvious scoring passes to be ignored. The Uni defended bravely to the end and tackled hard throughout but never threatened the Crabs’ line, only rarely getting into the Salcombe 22.

From the outset it was obvious that Salcombe’s rush defence was going to smother any Uni attack and it quickly became clear that James Cooper and Dafydd Bonar were ruling the lineout with Bonar picking off several Uni throw ins as they threw long to avoid Cooper. It was the same story in the scrum where Salcombe pushed the Uni mercilessly with Toby Woods getting the Uni put in on a number of occasions.

However despite the wealth of possession the Crabs failed to score for the first quarter of an hour as overlaps were missed and penalties conceded, five in the first ten minutes! Then Kieron Clarke made a good hard run before being brought down. The ball was well recycled and after several phases Clarke was on hand to take the final scoring pass. Brother Lee added the extras and Salcombe were on the board.

The next try came from a move straight off the training ground. Salcombe had a penalty and from the lineout they settled into a 20 metre drive in line astern formation, a move that the Uni couldn’t stop with Kieron Clarke again rounding off proceedings. Lee Clarke then kicked an excellent conversion from close to touch for 14-0. A Bonar steal of a Uni throw in then went down the Salcombe line smartly for Marco Alfano-Rogers playing at 13 to get the touch down for 19-0. The half ended with Salcombe getting a turnover, Toby Woods then charging upfield and once again several phases before Clarke went over for his hat trick and a half time score of 24-0.

The second half started with a blitz of Salcombe tries. Woods took another against the head, the forwards then trundled on before the ball came to Lee Clarke, playing with gusto in his best position at no 9, for the try wide out. Clarke then added the extras with a great kick. Following another scrum Kieron Clarke picked up and drove over for the simplest of his four tries which again his bother converted. Charlie Rawlinson next fielded a kick and returned it with a monster that set the Crabs up on the Uni 5 metre line. Salcombe won the lineout for James Cooper to touch down. Lastly with substitutions being made coach Neil Elliott came on and got in on the act by scoring wide out following the usual penalty,lineout, phases and over routine for 48-0.

With 20 minutes still left on the clock Salcombe then seemed to lose all their intensity and while they still easily contained the Uni, they never looked like putting any more points on the board. The game became pretty shapeless as individuals sought to score ignoring passing opportunities.