Monday 9 January, 2023, by Oli Masters
Salcombe celebrated its Vice Presidents day in style on Saturday as the a large and suitably hydrated crowd were treated to one of the Crabs best performances in recent years.
Much of the hard work was done in the first half playing into an easy 3 try wind the defensive effort to not only shut out the visitors but repeatedly repel them with a defensive cohesion that has been seen in patches this season but never so unwaveringly. Such was the ferocity in the tackle that frequent territorial gains were made even without the ball as defenders dominated the collision and wore the travelling Newton side down to complete a first half shut out. Salcombe even managed to get on the score board despite the fierce wind when on a rare incursion repeated short carries by the forwards got within touching distance on the try line with Number 8 James Lake forcing his way over.
Playing with the wind in the second half the game plan was altered to take advantage of the conditions and playing with a bit more freedom that this preferential “breeze” allowed, the Crabs were able to cut loose and enjoy playing some more expansive rugby. Their second try came curtesy of what is becoming a trademark long range interception from fly half Eoghan Grace, before bagging his second shortly after by more or less walking under the posts unchallenged from a 5 meter penalty. The bonus point was wrapped up quickly when unrelenting pressure on the Newton Abbott try line resulted in a yellow card for the guests and an excellently poached try from flanker Matt Gibbens after more sustained pressure – this was converted by Lee Clarke finishing with a clean sweep from the boot.
A slight blot on the copy book for Salcombe occurred when an increasingly desperate Newton side now playing more and more erratically were able to gather a speculative chip and chase and score out wide, a shame but this is the same side that gave Salcombe a bit of a lesson in the reverse fixture and not a side to be taken lightly. Definitely a work on for next week but the positives hugely outweighed any negatives this week and with targets for the second half of the season locked in the Crabs will look to carry this momentum through to the next fixture in two weeks time.
Notable performances are too many to mention, the defensive shift in the first half particularly from the pack was something quite special and set the groundwork for the second half ensuring the ascendancy for Salcombe. Man of the Match went to Steve Gatty Gatland who enjoyed the better of his battle at scrum time, set the tone early on with his personal tackle count and offered the sort of mobility an ball carrying usually associated with the back row.
The matchday squad would like to thank Newton Abbott RFC for a great day of Rugby, the Club Staff and volunteers, Nick LV for the players meal and catering for the dignitaries, and all of the sponsors and VP’s whom the players hope enjoyed their day and evening, the squad certainly enjoyed the support from the touchline.