Monday 13 March, 2023, by Oli Masters
Salcombe wrapped up their league campaign against top of the table visitors Plymouth Argaum who needed to win the match to guarantee themselves finishing as champions of the Devon 3 league.
The Crabs knew that a win would not only crash the party for the opposition but also cement a deserved 4th spot finish in this tough and punishing division. This is a season that has seen some serious and lengthy injuries and at times had boys looking for their boots who might have thought they’d not need them ever again, that said if you are going to retire don’t keep your boots.
The home side actually started off the better side frustrating the larger opponents with speed in defence and a set piece that seemed to rattle the table topping Plymouth side. Skipper Toby Woods set the tone in the first scrum of the game snatching one against the head and leaving Argaum guessing about how to break down a team that were making few mistakes and posing more of the questions. Salcombe even took the lead with yet another interception try from number 10 Eoghan Grace and conversion by Lee Clarke, the latter ending the season as the leagues top scorer from any team.
The lead was short lived however, a failed exit routine led to Argaum getting off the mark, this swiftly followed by a second, gave them a one try lead at the break but the Crabs far from out of the match. Sadly despite a brave display from all concerned second half injuries meant positional changes and an empty bench that just couldn’t compete with a team who bought 5 subs and two spares – just in case. Argaum may have thought the afternoon would be a bit of a procession but their relief was obvious when they scored the last of their 4 tries to put the game out of reach and ensure their status as league winners condemning Salcombe to finishing 5th, fair possibly, but it felt to the playing squad like scant return on a season as attritional as this.
Then with the final whistle The Crabs had to endure the indignity of clapping politely as Argaum lifted the cup on Salcombe soil. An experience rather like hearing your parents in the bedroom, you accept it’s going to take place and it’s probably allowed but on balance you’d rather not be close by when it happens.
Difficult to list noticeable performances after such a hard fought battle from the whole team but worthy of special mention would be wing Graham McNicholl drafted in at the 11th hour and even filling in at scrum half for a time. Lock Dom Loomes who broke out of Derriford in order to play and to Dan Sinnott who leant him his spare scrum hat. Man of the Match went to Dan Hepburn who produced another stand out performance from the second row dominating and disrupting every line out and using his indefatigable engine to cover every blade of grass on the pitch.
This season more than last has been an example in how to use the weapons you have rather than worrying about the ones you are facing and the Crabs will do well to take the experience and learn from it to really mount a challenge for the title next season. Case in point this match unlike some losses this season where Salcombe had been the plucky underdogs really felt like the match was theirs to win and for the first half it really was which is to the credit of the squad and the management team, absorb the lesson and come back stronger for it, once bodies are healed.
The playing squad would like to offer their sincere congratulations to Plymouth Argaum, the league table doesn’t lie and they are deserved winners, the Crabs wish them the best for next year.
The playing squad would also like to thank the volunteers and staff in the bar, kitchen and throughout the club along with Nick LV for the players catering. Thank you also to the supporters who consistently give their own afternoons to cheer on a side playing a modest level of community rugby, your support is truly valued and appreciated. Lastly thank you to John Sprague for what you leave in the changing room after each match even if the result is not the one we want.