Monday 2 March, 2020, by John Sprague
Last season against each other both sides lost their away matches and won their home matches. This season they have both lost their home matches and won their away games. Strange how the game of rugby goes.
This was a top of the table encounter between two sides who have suffered in the Merit Table from teams not fancying a difficult away trip and thus both clubs have had a marked dearth of home games. The Merit Table organisers need to address this problem for next season although in fairness it is difficult to see what they can do faced with some teams who seem very half hearted about the Competition.
Salcombe started at a gallop with Toby Woods collecting Lee Clarkes kick off at pace and penetrating the away defence who were caught napping. But once he was stopped Kingsbridge came back with relentless pressure continually recycling the ball amongst their forwards and backs. Salcombe’s tackling was generally good but they struggled to lay hands on the ball at the breakdown. After 10 minutes a Kingsbridge scrum on the Crabs five metre line trundled towards the whitewash and looked unstoppable when an enterprising Crab decided to risk all and bring it down. Some refs might have just given the visitors a penalty and it was worth the risk. However this one rightly decided on a penalty try and 10 minutes in the bin for the Crab. 0-7 to Kingsbridge.
Salcombe coped well with only 14 men and were helped by the visitors constantly choosing to move the ball through the hands rather than take advantage of the brisk wind blowing in their favour. But inevitably after 20 minutes Salcombe’s defence was stretched, a vital tackle was missed and the Kingsbridge wing scored wide out for a lead of 0 –12. No further scoring in the half left the Salcombe faithful reasonably confident that the Crabs would be able to overturn that in the second half with the wind at their backs.
Making substitutions Salcombe played much better in the second half winning ball and gaining territory. A series of scrums, lineouts and penalties gave the Crabs good possession and several times it looked as if all Salcombe needed was a bit more hard straight running as demonstrated by Jordan Tebb, the Crabs Man of the match. In the end it fell to Kieron Clarke to show what could be done as he brushed off tackles and went in under the posts. Brother Lee nonchalantly added the extras with a drop kick for 7-12.
With 10 minutes remaining Salcombe tried everything to win the game and were unlucky when Jonathon Squire fresh from making a try saving tackle then emerged with the line at his mercy only to be caught from behind with about 5 metres to go. With that went Salcombe’s last opportunity to level the scores, a result that would probably have been fairer in view of their second half performance.