Sunday 12 September, 2021, by Oli Masters
After 5 years spent plying their trade in the South West Merit Table, Salcombe hosted New Cross RFC in their long awaited return to competitive Devon League rugby.
The following 80 minutes will likely have brought into sharp focus the task that now faces Salcombe and will leave the playing squad in little doubt about the level of intensity and physicality that, being truthful, the Merit table does not always demand.
Credit must go to New Cross who, whilst not having it all their own way, still managed to keep the score board ticking over with a mixture of well taken team tries but also some opportunistic scores that always seemed to occur just when the Crabs threatened to build any momentum.
The final score was a chastening 55 nil to the visiting team and now Salcombe must determine the positives that they can from the match and attempt to build for future weeks. It is vital to ensure their opponents know that they have been in a contest and begin to put into effect the structures that are shown on the training pitch.
Despite the final score notable performances were not lacking, stand in skipper Jay Hannaford led admirably from the front in his less favored position, flanker John Hawtin stepped straight back in where he left of nearly 15 years ago. Man of the match was given to Andy Retallick who has been a key figure in pre season and carried that physicality and intent into the game, whilst at the same time making a 400 mile round trip to ensure the Crabs had a full squad. Lastly it was great to see some new faces in the Red and White making their competitive debuts namely Dan Hepburn & player/coach Eoghan Grace.
Salcombe travel to Plymouth next week to face Old Plymothian and Mannameadians with plenty to think about and much to work on.