MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 10th MARCH 2018
TORQUAY ATHLETIC 22 v KINGSBRIDGE 17
A really vital and well merited home win for Torquay Athletic in their fight to avoid relegation. Such was also a dividend on the back of well attended and productive training sessions in the build up week. On the day these were two pretty well matched sides, with Tics' making best use of a very wet and sticky pitch by adapting quickly to a forwards driving game . Such reaped due rewards, with two of their three tries coming through Captain Jon Woodhead.
The conditions suited Kingsbridge less so, given the recognised potency of their backline, but they still managed to look dangerous on occasions, especially in broken field play and when they were able to instil pace, with quick tap penalties or counter attacks.
Both Teams require credit for providing interesting fare throughout with their different strengths on a pitch which, within the past nine days, had suffered first from snow and then flooding from the sea, followed by further waterlogging from nearly 24 hours of continuous rain through Friday.
The visitors showed early attacking intent from the kick off towards the cricket square, when left wing Chris Carevali was able to take the bouncing ball at pace and in his stride to make ground deep into Torquay's 22.' However Tics' were eventually able to slow the attack, steal ball and kick clear to half way.
Subsequently another clearing kick by Alex Jeffery and a good ball chase put Torquay deep into the opposition 22' for the first time until the home side conceded a penalty.
The rolling maul is very often a Kingsbridge weapon of choice close to the try line, but here they were outdone by Torquay's efforts at this discipline. Twice within a short pace of time the home forwards made good yardage from the 10 metre line up to the opposition 22', following lineouts.
Considering the wet ball both sides adapted well throughout to the lineout set piece.
After a fairly evenly matched first quarter of an hour Tics' fly half James Wood looked to cause problems with a diagonal chip into the visitors 22'. However, despite a good ball chase by Tony McCarthy, from full back Kings' managed to retreat in time and salvage the ball.
Tics' then settled well into a pattern of forwards pick and go's down the left, taking play into Kings' 22' until a knock on halted progress. However at the resulting scrum the visitors went accidentally offside, allowing Torquay a five metre scrum put in just eight metres out.
No. 8 Lewis Harben picked up at the back and ran infield but over the try line he was adjudged held up. He did the same at the resulting 5 metre scrum, but this time was stopped short. However the ball was re-cycled to the left of the posts where Woodhead on the charge proved too powerful for Kingsbridge to stop. His try was converted by Wood for 7 – 0 in the 20th minute.
However, within a minute Kingsbridge were level. Rushed up defence down Torquay' left gave a Kings' back a chance to “step” and avoid a defender. He then ran down his side's right flank exploiting a lack of cover and found right wing Ollie Wotton in support. With good timing and accuracy they worked in tandem to take Tics' full back out of the equation with a simply executed two on one move. George Banfield's left foot was trusty for the conversion to tie the scores.
Tics' penalty count against was starting to mount and when another was conceded, unnecessary backchat meant the Team was marched back a further 10 metres. Kingsbridge kicked for an attacking lineout and although Torquay were able to thwart the attempted drive to the line the visitors maintained their presence inside the 22' until a turnover by home forwards allowed the ball to be cleared upfield.
The visitors then counter attacked from deep on a quick tap penalty putting Tics' on the back foot. A no arms tackle was penalised and Banfield made no mistake with a penalty in front of the posts just 24 metres out for 7 – 10; shortly after which half time arrived.
Into the second period and Tics' quickly rested back the lead by the 45th minute. Following consistently good keep ball driving phases by the forwards Torquay advanced into the opposition 22' once more. Wood then switched the ball left, with Arron Graham beating the first defender and making ground away from the touchline, infield.
Playing advantage after a rare Kingsbridge infringement close to the try line Woodhead managed to squeeze over for 12 – 10.
Seven minutes later Tics' gained an advantage when Devon Referee Mr. Steve Clark showed no patience to scrum half Jack Evans, who was guilty of a deliberate knock down at the base of a scrum. A yellow card saw him removed. Wood kicked the resulting penalty for 15 – 10.
Tics' were gaining in confidence, consequent upon a committed display. Then danger, as Kings' ran back a clearing kick and they moved the ball down their backline first right and then left, using the full width of the pitch.
Then more fine driving play by Torquay to get into the opposition 22' once again. A break through the middle by prop Calvin Bradley was supported well by Isaac Fahey. Bradley refused to be put down, pumping his legs to further his advance. After Fahey had kept the ball alive Jeffery then picked out Josh Mackin in space and a straight run took him over the try line from 15 metres out. Wood converted to put some daylight between the sides at 22 – 10 entering the final quarter.
Kings' then broke out of defence and only last ditch tackles stopped them scoring, following a strong run through the middle by Captain Ben Glover. A penalty to Kings' was kicked to touch but Tics' stole the ball deep in defence, only to concede another penalty, meaning they would have to defend another close in lineout to the visitors.
With 14 minutes of a hard slog left Coach Ed Barnes decided to introduce fresh legs with Tom Whitford and Isaac Fahey being replaced by James Norrish and Chris Smith. Having taken an earlier knock hooker Bertie Turner retired after another industrious shift. Josh Castleton slipped into the hooker position.
Then some confusion following an injury stoppage as the Referee held a long conversation with Woodhead and produced a yellow card to the home Skipper.
Aainst fourteen men Kings' sought to cash in on their advantage and Tics' has to defend a scrum eight metres out from their own line. However,as he tried to exploit a gap in Tic's backline centre George Banfield knocked on with the line seemingly beckoning.
Then Tics' conceded a tenth penalty and compounded the matter with more backchat giving Kings' a further ten metre advantage. Not surprisingly Kings' elected to scrum from five metres out. From quick heeled ball they were able to create an overlap and Tom Leman ran in to score under the posts with Banfield converting to bring it to 22 – 17 with five minutes to play.
Then Torquay were galvanised by the return to play of Woodhead and a knock on from the re-start kick by a Kingsbridge player gave further encouragement.
Tics' played out time reverting to driving forward play and when Kings tried to break out for a final time their winger was tackled into touch within his own half of the field and the whistle sounded for full time. A great Team effort.
A special mention to the centre partnership of Josh Mackin and Chris Robson-Close, both continuing to play out of position, as needs must. Mackin is normally a back row specialist but has to be satisfied with a place outside the pack since his return from Newton Abbot and Robson-Close is a hooker, who has adapted very well over the last two games, since returning from a long injury lay off.
This win was very necessary in the light of other results, with fellow struggler's Paignton and Tiverton both recording home wins and Crediton creating a surprise with an away draw at form Club Sidmouth.
In a League of fourteen Teams Burnham on 19 points now looked doomed to occupy the bottom spot at the end of the season. Above them only seven League points separate Crediton in thirteenth spot from Truro in seventh within the botttom half of the Table.
Tics' final five matches are all against sides in that bottom half, comprising Tiverton (H), Truro (A), Burnham (H), Chard (A) and Crediton(H). Consequently survival is very much in Torquay's own hands.
15 – Tony McCarthy, 14 – Arron Graham, 13 – Chris Robson-Close, 12 – Josh Mackin, 11 – James Alexander, 10 – James Wood, 9 – Alex Jeffery,
1 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 2 – Carl Turner, 3 – Calvin Bradley, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 – Jon Woodhead (Captain), 6 – Isaac Fahy, 7 – Jacob Loewy, 8 – Lewis Harben,
Replacements: Chris Smith, Josh Castleton and James Norrish (all played).
The Extras travelled to Kingsbridge to contest a DMT2 match with the Kings' Second string. Although scoring three tries of their own they came out on the wrong side of a 31 – 17 loss. Kingsbridge had their home Colts match v Barnstaple called off and some of their very strong squad of Under 18's were drafted into their Seconds to profitable effect.
Meanwhile the Colts managed to raise a bare squad of fifteen to go to Sidmouth in a Plate Colts Cup match, but were well beaten by 48 – 5. They must now win two remaining ties at home to Exeter Saracens and Devonport to progress to a final, to be played at Sandy Park. It is good however that Torquay were able to put out three sides when many other Clubs are struggling to do the same.
Please note that the home game v Tiverton in WCW this coming Saturday (17/03) will revert to a 3.00 pm KO …..........as will ALL home League matches between now and the end of the season.
Also, this coming Saturday there will be a buffet lunch for Vice-Presidents starting @ 2.00 pm.