Tuesday 7 March, 2023, by Oli Masters
Salcombe gained a small measure of retribution over a side that well and truly beat them in the reverse fixture last month – Topsham may even have breathed a sigh of relief at a result that could have easily gone the other way. In a performance of the season contender with standout displays throughout the side, the only thing lacking at the end was the all important W. The Crabs can hold their heads up high with this showing however, the heart, determination, intensity in both attack and defence was there in buckets with Salcombe actually leading until ten minutes from time when the visitors got their third try to take the score agonisingly out of reach. This was to the despair of the squad who until this point had gone toe to toe with a much larger side with a full squad who regularly put out 3 senior teams each week.
Salcombe took the early lead with a long range interception run in from fly half Eoghan Grace, followed quickly by a kicked penalty from Lee Clarke to bring up a 10 point lead. Despite not having all of the possession Salcombe felt fairly comfortable, the scrum performing admirably in the face of a large weight disadvantage and the midfield defence time after time disrupted the flow of the visitors attack forcing mistake after mistake. They were unlucky not to capitalise more on opportunities presented to them until Topsham scored a try of their own before half time, this despite a number of red shirts claiming to have prevented proper grounding. However with the score 10 – 7 at the break the reds had the momentum and really fancied taking the second half to the opposition.
With renewed intent the Crabs built on good territory and pilled forward earning repeated penalties after numerous infringements. One such penalty saw a move straight from Thursday’s training session and with the forwards pummeling the try line the ball was spun wide to the waiting Jordan Tebb who went through two tackles to score under the posts for a well deserved try.
Sadly more or less straight from the restart Topsham all but levelled to make it 15-14 in the reds favour. Not letting up, Salcombe threw everything at their opponents, a clean break from the half way line from Neil Elliott brought the excited crowd to their feet but he was brought down with 10 meters to go and the ball could not be recycled. Excruciatingly Topsham took the lead shortly thereafter with a score out wide that looked to those close by like a double movement but had possibly been coming despite all the pressure from Salcombe. The match ended 15 – 19 and if the bounce of the ball had gone the other way on occasion or a different interpretation been given it may have been different but as it was disappointment was the overall flavour left in the mouths of the men on the pitch albeit tinged with blood, mud and sweat.
There were too many notable performances to list, everyone of the squad emptied the tank completely and gave all they had in the face of a huge task against an extremely capable and talented Topsham side. Worthy of mention however is Sam Wilkins making his first start at full back, Matt Gibbens captaining the team at home, James Cooper and Martin Gloyns, neither of whom could have picked a better match to end their retirement and the welcome return from injury of James Lake and Daffydd Bonar . Man of the match could have gone to any of 10 different players but recipient of the award was Jay Hannaford who was a rock at scrum time and left his mark in various Topsham bodies in defence.
The Playing squad would like to thank Nick LV for the players meal along with all the staff and volunteers at the club in the kitchen and on the bar. A big thank you also to all the ex-players watching on from the touch line, the support is always welcome especially from friends of the club and those who have worn the shirt themselves.