Thursday 7 April, 2022, by John Sprague
Because Dartmouth have been effectively dropped from the League for failing to play 25% of their matches, Salcombe were nevertheless asked by the League to honour the fixture as a friendly. Minus a number of key players through Covid, injury and unavailability Salcombe turned up with a full side and a couple of subs but what followed could hardly be called “friendly”.
In large part this was due to the ref who told both teams that he didn’t want to card anyone as this was a friendly, a statement which allowed a stream of fouls from the home side. His inability to ref the breakdown set the stage for a fair amount of mayhem and while no doubt Salcombe were probably not entirely innocent, the stream of penalties awarded to Salcombe suggested which way the blame largely lay.
And the sad part is that for the first 30 minutes of the first half Dartmouth were the better side with their large pack pinning Salcombe down in their own 22 and scoring 2 tries in the process. Salcombe had taken a very early lead through some excellent handling with the ball moving across the pitch a couple of times before Will Oram found that the home side had run out of players and cantered over for a try under the sticks. Lee Clarke converted as he did the following 8 tries, all of which were scored under the posts or very close to it.
Finding themselves 7–12 down at the half hour, Salcombe realised that rather than trying to out muscle Dartmouth’s pack, they were better to throw the ball around exposing the home sides lack of pace and fitness. Two tries quickly resulted with both Kieron Clarke and Jay Hannaford putting in punishing runs to finish off some useful handling by the whole team. Thus at half time Salcombe led 21-12.
The second half was a repeat of the last 10 minutes of the first. From the start off Dave Hill at scrum half scored a perfect solo try from the half way line outpacing the defence. This was quickly followed by a penetrating run from Toby Woods who managed to get the pass away to Kieron Clarke for his second. Mark Parnowski at full back then collected a high ball and went more or less the length of the field for his try. Hill got his second before Elliott broke free close to half way and the tired Dartmouth defence gave up on him. Lastly Ben Goodman who had been lively all afternoon got his reward by finishing off a team move. This brought up the final score of 12-63 to Salcombe when both captains decided that they had had enough and the game ended 10 minutes early.