WADEBRIDGE CAMELS 43 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 5
MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 13th JANUARY 2018
There is an adage in sport (expressing something that most people agree is true) – that the scoreboard never lies.
However, as with all things in life there are exceptions and this one is certainly a case in point. That Wadebridge Camels deserved to win is not in dispute (they netted seven tries to one against), but they had to work hard for this result throughout and the visitors ultimately felt that the scoreboard somewhat flattered the home Team.
Torquay travelled once again to Cornwall with a makeshift squad, borne out of necessity because of the unavailability of a number of players from the week before, at home to Falmouth. Hence, only two players in a backs squad of eight had turned out versus Falmouth a week earlier; meaning that six different players travelled:
Two of those backs were making First Team debuts on the wing – James Barlow and Ryan Connor. Jack Barnes switched to full back; a position he has only played twice before, since taking up rugby. In the absence of Alex Jeffery, Jacob Loewy, normally an open side flanker reverted to scrum half and returning to play after several weeks out with injury flanker Isaac Fahey slotted in at inside centre, a position he has never before occupied.
Thankfully there was a more settled look up front, but influential Skipper Jon Woodhead was ruled out, having retired before half time a week earlier with a neck injury.
Opinions in sport are bound to vary, but it seems fair to take issue with Camel's Haed Coach's reported view that his side had enjoyed dominance from the start, that allowed his side to control the game.
In the first half in particular Tics' had the better of territory and possession. The forwards went about their business with gusto, with pick and go's continually putting Camels on the back foot. However the Wadebridge tackling across their whole Team was both committed and fierce – some would say at times brutal (but fair). It is to Torquay players' credit that they kept getting up and going back for more.
Tics' profited most when they could get the rolling maul going from attacking lineouts; more especially in the second half, when the penalty count against the home side exceeded that against the visitors. In the first half however credit must go to to the Wadebridge front jumper and his lifters, who, by good timing and use of one hand managed to divert at least four first half Tics' throw-ins back to their own side.
Once the Torquay pack worked this out they chose to throw to the back – a riskier ploy in wet conditions with a slippery ball – but one that was altogether more profitable.
Torquay's backs had reasonable possession, but without familiarity amongst their personnel had to rely on straight running. By comparison Camels backs were penetrative in possession, although they were forced to go to the wide channels to get around the Tics' defence.
This they were able to do for a majority of their tries through quick service from the half backs allied to inventive movement and accurate passing.
Having kicked off Torquay enjoyed territorial advantage in the opposition half for some while. Then, after a period of pick and go's by Tics' forwards (well defended by the home side) Camels managed to pounce on a loose ball, which was moved to the left, where cover was short.
Home outside centre Will Pengelly showed deft skills using subtle changes of pace and direction, as well as the decoy of supporting runners, to outstrip defenders and run fully 80 metres to touch down. Danny Thomas converted for a 7 – 0 lead after 18 minutes.
Two minutes later they were on the scoreboard again after a piece of misfortune for the visitors. Jack Barnes went over on an ankle on the halfway line and was lying prone with “no-one at home.” Camels quickly kicked ahead to the right, where he would normally be covering. The kick ahead sat up nicely for right wing Cody Armstrong to continue his chase, collect and run down the wing to dot down for 12 – 0.
Following an attacking Wadebridge lineout on Tics' 22' Torquay initially stole the ball, but it was quickly won back and fly half Thomas cross kicked perfectly for left wing Dom Hawkey to catch, step off his left foot twice to wrong foot the drift defence and score close to the posts. Thomas converted for 19 – 0 after 27 minutes.
Torquay were now playing catch-up and following award of a penalty inside Camels 22' had to elect for an attacking close- in lineout. However this was one such occasion when Camels front jumper managed to divert the throw.
The half ended with Wadebridge enjoying their most prolonged period of possession within Tics' half of the field so far, but they were not able to add to their tally, due to stout Tics' defence and it remained 19 – 0 at the break.
On the resumption prop Liam Murray replaced Josh Castleton, with Bradley moving to loose head.
Within a minute Camels kicked a penalty to within 10 metres, but Tics' disrupted a long throw and Lewis Harben stole the ball. Then, from a scrum wide right Wadebridge moved the ball accurately and swiftly through the hands with Dom Hawkey scoring a text book threeqauarters try in the corner, which Thomas converted for a 26 – 0 lead after 45 minutes.
Straight from the kick off Tics' finally got on the board, taking Camels by surprise with the home side failing to control the ball down their left flank. Fahey took advantage with a short stab ahead and won the race for the touchdown. 26 – 5.
Tics' returned to the attack, winning a lineout on Camels 10 metre line and successfully driving a maul fully 25 metres up the left. Camels infringed and Nathan Pring put the penalty to within 5 metres. A long throw and a Tics' maul, but somehow Camels managed to steal and clear.
Next, Wadebridge scored on another long range breakout down the left flank with No. 12 Joe Pretty getting the touchdown for 31 – 5 after 55 minutes.
Lock James Norrish now gave way to Dan Woods. Tics' came back strongly with Pring firing another penalty to within 8 metres. This time Torquay set up a really powerful drive and the maul moved at a speed of knots towards the try line. Torquay players and a thin sprinkling of away supporters were expecting a penalty try when the maul suddenly went to ground, but instead the Referee decided on a home scrum put-in.
Torquay put pressure on and persevered winning another lineout 11 metres out, but for the first time in the second half the throw went awry.
Camels then added to their score, again through inventive backs' play, using the full width of the pitch. A clever run by full back Callum Wilson put right wing Armstrong free down the touchline to score from the 22' and it was 36 – 5 with 12 minutres remaining.
Wadebridge thought they had scored again wide out on the left, but to everyone's surprise the Referee called play back for reasons unknown and awarded a penalty to Wadebridge inside Tics' 22' and central to the posts. Camels elected to scrum.
The Torquay pack had not taken a backward step in this set piece all afternoon and this time managed to push Wadebridge off their own put-in. Loewy secured the ball on the ground and Tics' cleared.
Carl Turner then retired with a dead leg with 5 minutes left to play. By now Wadebridge were on top and they managed to stretch the Torquay defence by moving first right and then left, creating a rare gap through the middle into which ran No. 8 Gary Glynn to touch down under the posts from the 22,' with what was the last play of the match. The conversion made it 43 – 5, which was unkind to an unremitting effort by all of Tics' players.
It is now even tighter at the bottom of the Table after wins by Crediton and Tiverton and a home draw for Paignton. Tiverton caused the biggest upset with 15 – 18 away win at third placed St. Austell, who visit the Recreation Ground next week (KO 2.30 pm).
Falmouth now have a game in hand after their home derby against Truro fell victim to the heavy rain experienced in Cornwall yesterday.
15 – Jack Barnes, 14 – Tony Brierley, 13 – Ben Spears, 12 – Isaac Fahey, 11 – James Barlow, 10 – Nathan Pring, 9 – Jacob Loewy,
1 – Josh Castleton, 2 – Carl Turner, 3 – Calvin Bradley, 4 – Joel Hempton, 5 – James Norrish, 6 – Tom Whitford (Captain), 7 – Shane Wakeham, 8 – Lewis Harben.
Replacements: Dan Woods, Ryan Connor and Liam Murray (all played).
Meanwhile at the Rec. the Extras had what was, of necessity, a low key friendly v Paignton Seconds, who could only muster ten players. Torquay appropriately lent sufficient players (thanks to those who volunteered) to make it a 15 – a -side match and duly ran out winners scoring five tries to one in return.
An unfortunate consequence of that match was a head injury causing a retirement to scrum half Josh Hunt, who had been expected to possibly figure in First Team plans in the immediate future.
The Colts travelled to Tiverton for a Devon Merit match and found continuity a problem on the back of conceding an estimated thirty penalties against. The final score was 20 – 12 to Tiverton.