MATCH REPORT – TORQUAY ATHLETIC 22 v PENRYN 23
SATURDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2018
An unwelcome home defeat for Torquay Athletic meant that crucial ground was lost on the early promotion pacesetters with Tics' moving down from fourth to fifth in the Table.
However, it is a long season and only five rounds of matches have been played. Nevertheless in its heart of hearts the Club knows that a few more of these reverses would make a quick return to Western Counties West extremely difficult. There are fortunately a lot of positives to work on in the camp, including the best training attendances for many a year, exemplifying a desire to work hard to improve.
In the recent past Penryn have been something of a bogey side at home for the Tics' and so it proved again here, with the four points gained keeping the visitors in second place in the Table for the time being.
For Torquay there were certain extenuating circumstances which saw a deserved half time lead of 17 – 6 being overhauled. One of these was a series of injury disruptions which first saw Player / Coach James Wood removed after only 14 minutes. Just before half time the outstanding Jonathan Woodhead came off with a knock; although he was compelled to resume six minutes later, although not fully fit, when Bertie Turner was brought off as a precaution following a knock to the head.
Turner's replacement at hooker Josh Castleton then became another injury victim only a few minutes later, forcing another pack re-shuffle, which saw normal back rower Shane Wakeham revert to No. 2 at scrum time.
Late on in that second period, with fifteen minutes plus injury time remaining there was some controversy culminating in scrum half Alex Jeffery being yellow carded, as Torquay were pinned beneath the shadow of their own posts, conceding a series of penalties. Jeffery's dismissal came as result of the totting up procedure.
Unfortunately for Tics' Penryn took immediate advantage of the extra man to score a converted try to give them a 17 – 21 lead.
Overall Torquay fell foul of Devon Society Referee Lucy Smith's interpretation of events at the breakdown too often, contributing to a total penalty tally of thirteen against the home side compared to six against Penryn. All but four of these against the men in black and white were conceded in the second half, during which Tics' consequently found difficulty in establishing continuity in their play; conversely allowing Penryn to build up more attacking momentum.
On a dry and sunny day, with a light breeze Penryn went ahead 3 – 0 in only the second minute courtesy of a long range penalty from half way by full back Mitchell Vague, when Torquay went offside.
After this faltering start Tics' came back strongly, with attitude, going through a series of phases, taking the ball first right and then left until, playing with a Referee's advantage for a Penryn high tackle, Captain Jake Bury jinked inside and found his way to the try line from 15 metres out. Mawgan Penrice converted for 7 – 3 in the sixth minute.
However the Cornishmen came back themselves with their Captain Andrew Seviour punching a hole in Tics' defence with a bustling run up the middle. Torquay were again penalised in front of their posts giving Vague a second penalty success from the 22' to make it 7 – 6. Wood then retired with Tony Brierley coming off the bench in the 14th minute.
After a spell of possession enjoyed by both sides Penryn were pinged for another high tackle and Penrice drove a penalty over from 30 metres out for 10 – 6.
Torquay then attacked strongly but were not able to recognise space in the wide channels on two occasions, each of which would have given their wingers a good opportunity to stretch their legs.
Following a Penryn 22' drop out Tics' came back with forceful driving play up the middle by the forwards, ending with Woodhead being adjudged held up over the whitewash. The resultant 5 metre scrum saw Tics' eight get a positive shove on against what had appeared to be a heavier pack, allowing Josh Mackin at the back to get the dot down from the base under the posts. A routine conversion made it 17 – 6 in the 28th minute.
Penryn's Coaches immediately responded by making two pack changes, which from thereon appeared to stabilise their set scrum. The visitors then responded with an attacking lineout from six metres, but not for the first nor last time Woodhead managed to steal the ball, so allowing the home side to clear.
However a neck roll offence gave Vague another pot at goal, but from a good position he unexpectedly pushed his kick wide. With five minutes to the break both Arron Graham and his opposite number saw yellow for a spate of handbags and then Joel Hempton replaced Woodhead. At the break it remained 17 – 6.
Early on after the resumption Penryn pinned Torquay back and following a close-in attacking lineout the home side were forced to defend a number of pick and go's. Finding this method barred Penryn chose to release the ball to the wider channels and succeeded in eventually creating a gap for no. 8 George Jones to cut back inside and score. Vague's conversion made it 17 – 13 in the 45th minute, giving the visitors something to build on . Bertie Turner was then retired.
Penryn came back on the attack and again Tics' had to defend driving play deep in the red zone and under their posts. Penryn elected to scrum when a Tics' forward came round the side of a maul illegally. Jeffery alertly disrupted the visitors heeled ball but the Referee's interpretation of events was different and a yellow card followed for the Tics' No. 9.
Two more Penryn scrums ensued after additional infringements and on the second of these it was the turn of the Penryn eight to put the squeeze on and Jones scored at the back of an advancing scrum for his second try, converted by Vague to create a 17 – 20 lead.
This gap was widened to 17 – 23, as Vague took advantage of another Tics' penalty concession to kick from distance.
On a by now relatively rare incursion into Penryn's 22, courtesy of two penalties awarded to Tics,' the ball was planted 5 metres out down the left touchline. From here Dunn found the jumper with his first throw after another pack re-shuffle and Torquay managed a third try by mauling to the line with Bury getting his second score – the Captain showing that he is growing into the Team and his new surroundings with positive effect.
Penrice's conversion from only five metres in seemed to be heading wide but at the last it drew in, only to kiss the far post and bounce out – small margins ! Thus it was 22 – 23.
Try as they may Tics' could not force another score. Jonny Brown came closest with a run down the right followed by a chip, chase and re-gather. However Penryn had two defenders at home and the right wing was bundled into touch five metres short.
A frustrating second period for Tics' was summed up in the dying moments when Wakeham won a Penryn scrum by taking a strike against the head, only for the scrum to be re-set as Jeffery gathered the won ball, with the visitors once again given the put in from which they were able to kick the ball dead, bringing a close to proceedings at 22 – 23.
Next week Torquay have their longest trip of the season to play Pirates Amateurs at the Menhaye Field, Penzance. Kick off is 3.00 pm and the Coach is booked to leave the Rec. at 10.00 am. On paper it should be well within Torquay's compass to bounce back with a win against a side lying second from bottom of the Table, with only one victory. However much will depend on availability of players for the long journey, given the injuries sustained not only by those who were forced off against Penryn, but also by others who suffered various knocks, but who saw out the 80 minutes.
The following Saturday, 13th October, is a free date, which will hopefully allow an improvement in a growing injury list.
15 – Tom Drake, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – James Wood, 12 – Alex Brown, 11 – Arron Graham, 10 – Mawgan Penrice, 9 – Alex Jeffery.
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Bertie Turner, 3 – Josh Castleton, 4 – Jon Woodhead, 5 – Tom Whitford, 6 – Shane Wakeham, 7 – Jake Bury (Captain), 8 – Josh Mackin.
Replacements: Tony Brierley, Ryan Dunn and Joel Hempton (all played).
In other results Tics earlier victors Honiton show their undoubted promotion credentials with a 14 try away 0 – 92 thumping of Withycombe. On current form the East Devon Club should be able to assume top spot when they play their outstanding game in hand away to Lanner on 13th October.
Meanwhile Tics' Extras won their second DMT2 SW match by a margin of 17 – 24 away to Plymouth University Thirds; whilst the Colts had a friendly at TVN and overcame a Plymstock Albion Oaks Under 18's by 34 – 14, scoring six tries in the process.