Tuesday 20 September, 2022, by Oli Masters
Salcombe travelled to top of the league Tamar Saracens with two wins from two knowing that a third would put them 1st in the table. Sadly despite a heroic at times defensive shift they succumbed to a well drilled and energetic Tamar side who snuffed out most of the Crabs attacking plays before they were able to get going.
Tamar began strongly and would have scored inside 10 minutes but for Crabs 12 Liam Wills dislodging the ball from a familiar looking centre after he had crossed the try line saving a certain 7 points. Will’s match was cut short at this point with the referee not willing to let him continue following a perceived head collision. Tamar got on the board shortly thereafter however when some missed tackles out wide allowed the winger and dangerous full back to combine to score out wide. Salcombe struggled to launch anything meaningful in the first half which was punctuated by some big tackling and steadfast defence. However with the scrum more than holding its own and being fairly dominant at the line out the second half would hopefully offer more attacking opportunity as the game would inevitably break up.
Unfortunately a nearly identical try to their first for the home side knocked the wind from Salcombe’s sails and once again attacking incursions were rare despite no lack of effort for all concerned. In particularly the dynamic flanker Matt Gibbens recently returned from injury and Dave Evans who in a very late positional switch before kick off was playing at scrum half, both tried to get Salcombe on the front foot numerous times but attacking cohesion just wasn’t easy to come by. One rare attack saw the forwards go hard down the middle of the narrow pitch for the ball to be then spun wide finding centre Oli Masters on the wing who cut in smartly before stepped awkwardly without challenge and hitting the deck with the try line close at hand. This led to more positional switches with Masters having to be helped from the pitch and a suspected dislocated thumb to prop Jay Hannaford forcing a squad overhaul and people playing even more out of their typical roles. The Crabs dealt with these set backs admirably and it shows what they are trying to achieve in training with familiarity for the system being ingrained throughout the squad. The match played out without further incident with Salcombe being frustrated at not bothering the scoreboard and Tamar probably wondering how they were unable to break down the dogged Crabs defence. Both teams now knowing a little more about each other will be looking at the reverse fixture in December with keen eyes.
Notable performances were abound as is to be expected with this squad but in particular big Dom Loomes playing in his first game for Salcombe led from the front for 80 minutes leaving a permanent mark on every collision he was involved in with and without the ball. Fellow forward Gibbens’ classy display from the openside was also particularly impressive as was early replacement Darren Hopkins called into the centre as Will’s replacement neither took a backward step and strength with the ball was a constant threat. Man of the Match however went to Masters who I’ve been told was outstanding all match and whose defence and work rate was second to none.
The Crabs have a home game against Totnes next week where so many of the squad who took this defeat personally will make it a point of individual order to correct some of the errors, lay down a marker for the league and transition from a team of plucky underdogs who work hard to a team that are genuinely a threat no matter who you are or league position. Until then the Crabs will rest up, train hard and come back stronger.