Sunday 4 December, 2022, by John Sprague
11 minutes from the final whistle Salcombe were 10-20 down and their faithful supporters were working out how this would affect their league position and wondering how they would pick themselves up for the visit of league leaders, Tamar Saracens next week. They hadn’t been playing well, too many dropped passes, penalties and wrong options taken and it looked like a bad day at the office for the Crabs. Paignton were clearly the better side on the day.
Then in a Deus ex Machina moment Salcombe clicked and started playing as if they meant it. 3 tries in the last 10 minutes, 2 converted, took Salcombe to 29 points, a 4 try bonus point and denied the home side a losing bonus point. Salcombe all match had much the better of the tight and with a heavier pack they had dominated the contact area. As a result the last 10 minutes appeared to be just too much for an exhausted looking Paignton who simply ran out of legs when Salcombe at last put some coherent play together.
The game had started with honours about even but it quickly became clear that when they got the ball Paignton had some lively backs who made inroads into the Salcombe defence. The Crabs started to concede penalties and a couple of injuries had a disrupting effect. Paignton got a penalty and followed this up with a try wide out which their excellent kicker converted with ease to give them a 10-0 lead. Salcombe replied in a lovely move with the ball moving through the hands and a slick interchange of passing saw Kieron Clarke score close to touch. Brother Lee failed with the conversion into the wind and this was followed by Paignton converting an enormous penalty from around 45 metres out. So at half time the score was 13-5 to Paignton.
Salcombe narrowed the gap when some slick work enabled the impressive Dom Looms working hard in the second row to touch down to bring the score to 13-10 to Paignton who quickly added to their total with another converted try. The match appeared to be lost to Salcombe with Paignton leading 20-10 and Salcombe not able to make any headway.
Then the miracle happened. on the 70th minute Looms finished off a surging forward move to bring the score to 20-15 and at least a losing bonus point. 4 minutes later Toby Woods did what good hookers often do and finished off another forwards thrust close to the sticks which Clarke converted. Salcombe now led 22- 20, had the 4 try bonus point and only needed to hold out for the last 5 minutes. Not content with that Looms, clearly wanting to buy the obligatory jug, finished off yet another forward move with his 3rd try of the match which Clarke converted, 29-22 to the Crabs.
However committed a Salcombe supporter you may be, it is hard not to feel some sympathy for the home side who didn’t even get the consolation of a losing bonus point. But good sides are ruthless and sensing that Paignton were physically on their knees, the very fit Salcombe side made plain that they are a good side at this level.
This week Salcombe are at home to Tamar Saracens at Twomeads, ko 2.30 and next week, 17 December, another home game this time against Totnes also 2.30 ko.