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Salcombe v OPM (7-0)

Sunday 9 May, 2021, by John Sprague

It was great to see the return of rugby to Salcombe for the first time since just before Christmas. The changes in the laws caused by Covid, no scrums or mauls and altered line out rules, change the game profoundly making for a much more even contest. Without the attrition of these elements of the game where usually weight and strength have a major effect on the result, fatigue is less of a factor and defence easier.

But this was nevertheless a full blooded contest with both sides tackling hard and throwing the ball around in an attempt to find a way through the defence. The handling of both sides was excellent in the difficult conditions and probably the difference between the sides was that Salcombe actually held on to the ball rather more than OPM who sometimes coughed it up at important points in the game. Neither side committed too many to the ruck so defending players were strung out across the field and opportunities to break through were few.

Salcombe’s try came from Liam Wills who had looked the most penetrating player on the field. It resulted from a team effort with some fine handling along the way leaving Wills to break a couple of tackles before going over wide out. Lee Clarke then put over a great conversion judging the strong wind perfectly and Salcombe were justifiably ahead.

Although there was no further scoring, the match was enthralling. OPM’s main strike runner, their hefty no 5, nearly got through on several occasions but was just about contained by resolute and brave Salcombe defence.

All the usual Salcombe suspects played well and it was good to see some new faces pulling on the shirt. However the game was remarkable for the appearance of veteran Mark Lidstone at scrum half for much of the match. He hasn’t played in that position since his U 16 days, 4 decades ago, but his knowledge and reading of the game calling on the right runners to take the pass shone through.