Tuesday 19 April, 2022, by Oli Masters
Salcombe finished their 2021/22 season against Buckfastleigh in the traditional Easter Saturday match for the Barry Cup. This ancient trophy is only contested once a season between these two teams and a fixture that has not taken place for a couple of years to due Covid restrictions.
Having had a difficult season with wins hard to come by, Buckfastleigh arrived at two meads with a large squad and a full bench that contained a number of ringers from other local teams. Salcombe with a strong squad themselves knew that this would be a proper match and not the one sided affair that their respective league seasons might have suggested.
With that in mind the Crabs started strongly as 5 minutes of sustained pressure was turned into a 3 point lead thanks to a Lee Clarke penalty. Another spell of pressure from the restart saw Salcombe dominate the territory and put themselves in a great attacking position. Big carries from Centre Liam Wills and number 8 Keiron Clarke couldn’t quite escape the last tackle but quick recycling of the ball put fly half Jon Squires in half a yard of space and strong run in for the first try of the game (con Clarke successful). Salcombe then continued their ruthless opening with a third visit to the opponents 22 coming away with yet more points curtesy of another Lee Clarke penalty. This strong and professional approach to game management with an emphasis on making the most of their opportunities has been missing from large parts of the Crabs season and it was great to see them finally making pressure count on the score board. Unfortunately the score board was unable to be troubled by either team for the rest of the half despite some good chances for Salcombe particularly off a driving maul which was used to good effect.
A raft of changes were made for Salcombe as they looked to use the fresh legs on their bench but it was the visitors who started the second half the stronger. This was made to tell after a spell of pressure and a try under the posts much to the large crowds dismay, a bizarrely lackadaisical conversion attempt however was charged down by Mark Parnowski to make sure that Salcombe were still more than one try ahead. This minor reprieve was not taken advantage of however as the Ramblers attempted to double down on their momentum and build themselves back into the game. This momentum was halted however when a brief period of Salcombe possession ended with them getting a penalty just inside the Buckfastleigh half. The resulting penalty was kicked to touch but fell a meter or so inside the pitch catching the defenders by surprise and allowing chasing wing Oli Masters to take advantage of the confusion, scoop up the spilled ball and race clear to score near the posts (Con Clarke Successful).
This score against the run of play seemed to deflate Buckfastleigh and gave Salcombe the momentum going into the last quarter. Playing with a bit more freedom that the points cushion allowed, several flowing moves saw incursions deep into enemy territory. Charlie Rawlinson and Will Oram were both unlucky not to quite break free at times in the backs and the addition of Rhys Cattell and Duncan Lilburn in the pack seemed to be the final straw as yet another Crab attack was launched into the Ramblers half who had seemed to have lost any hope of a meaningful come back at this point. One such incursion led to a line on the Buck’s 22, the ball was spun to the backs and, with Centre Jordan Tebb drawing tacklers to his channel, Squires was once again given just enough space to slice through the would be defence and score his second under the posts (con Clarke successful).
Buckfastleigh managed to score a late consolation try with nearly the last play of the game but that was all it was to be as everyone in attendance was aware it would be too little too late. The final whistle brought jubilation to Two Meads with the Barry Cup finally coming home after 7 long years, this was matched only by the moment when skipper Toby Woods was able to lift the trophy to the cheers of the 250 strong crowd.
A huge thank you as always to the Bar Staff and to Nick LV of LV Catering for the post match meal. A thank you also to the ladies managing the raffle and to those volunteers and the committee who did the necessary work to have Two Meads looking resplendent in the sunshine on Saturday. Thank you to Charlotte Clarke for the donation of some amazing cup cakes for the raffle and the Sevens tournament. Thanks from the players to Head Coach and player Eoghan Grace for negotiating the first season back in league rugby which has exceeded all expectations not least with the culmination of some deserved silverware.
Notable Performances were too numerous to mention as this was a whole squad victory who to a man put in a huge shift. Not only the squad on the day but the many other players who have answered the call throughout this season and pulled on the shirt, not in the matchday squad but who have contributed hugely through the season. Special mention however for the day should go to Darren Clarke Snr who played his last ever game of rugby and received the send off and result he deserved alongside his sons Keiron and Lee. The squad was completed by the following players, N Elliott, J Hannaford, D Sinnott, B Goodman, Daffffffffyd Baeiounar, J Lake, S Wilkins, D Evans, J Hawtin, S Herselman, S Harding Hodder, M Lidstone & A Gillies.