Sunday 30 October, 2022, by Oli Masters
Salcombe backed up last weeks win on the road with a great home performance against local rivals Dartmouth to maintain pressure on a congested top half of the Counties 3 West table.
Salcombe started strongly, playing into a robust wind, they controlled the speed of the game nicely, combining well with some neat offloads and gaining plenty of yards with the ball in hand. Dominating possession they were undone in this early period with a succession of needless penalties that were punished with the wind carrying resulting kicks deep into Crabs half.
Undeterred and with exit strategies limited to running the ball Salcombe continued to look impressive and were able to string multiple phases together utilising their set structure but also a more expansive off the cuff style exemplified nicely by the back row of Cattell, Gibbens and Bonar who kept the ball live and repeatedly allowed a swift return to Dartmouth territory.
After 20 minutes of spirited resistance from the visitors the pressure told as quick recycled ball found its way to Gibbens who drove over. The Crabs continued to squeeze to possession dominating what was left other first half with further tries from wing Steve Moran and number 8 Cattell. One piece of play in particular was unlucky not to finish with points following a sweeping move from an attacking line out allowing fly half Lee Clarke to split the defence with a deft kick just behind on rushing tacklers, sadly the bouncing ball miraculously evaded a red hand despite numerous chasers for what would have been the perfect training ground move.
The second half started in much the same way as the first half ended, a second score from Gibbens and neat finish from right wing Sam Wilkins who latched on to the end of a flowing move to round the last man and score under the posts. Despite these scores Salcombe will feel an element of frustration as several more tries were left un-scored and the potential to make up some ground on the teams above them points difference in the league not maximized. A daft yellow card for Clarke didn’t help this but it did allow for a certain amount of experimentation with personnel. Salcombe emptied their bench and tried some new combinations and give a debut Morgan Coombes who showed heaps of potential in the back three. Allowing Dartmouth to get a consolation try was slightly careless but it was a game that was won a long time prior to that moment and a match that the Crabs never looked like losing.
Notable performances were across the whole squad and was in truth a team showing with each member adding valuable contributions on multiple occasions. Centres Wills and Hills were solid in defence and creative in attack, second row pairing of Loomes and Goodman put in a lot of dirty work both seen and unseen and the front row pairing of Woods & Sinnott gave the foundation for everything that followed. Man of the match went to Jay Hannaford for some huge hits, vital turnovers and generally leading from the front with the ball in hand.
Thanks as always to the club staff in the bar and kitchen, the referee, Dartmouth RFC, Nick LV from LV Catering for the post match meal. Also a big thank you to tracksuit sponsors Duncan Lilburn and Neil Elliott of Lilburn and Elliott Construction along with George Henry Moore of Salcombe GHM.