MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 24th MARCH 2018
TRURO 27 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 19
Torquay Athletic returned from Cornwall once again without any League points; although agonisingly only a single match point from securing a losing bonus point.
It was not for lack of effort and commitment of those who travelled to play a Truro side, who are likewise fighting the threat of relegation. Without a Second Team or Colts to call upon it is perhaps remarkable that the Cornish side look as if this win might enable them to stay in WCW for another season.
As it was Tics' had to call up a Colts and five regular Second Teamers to the squad. Centre Josh Mackin agreed to play despite being chosen to play for Devon Under 20's the following day and it later transpired that Jacob Loewy, wearing his usual no. 7 shirt, had played for more than one half with a broken hand. Unfortunately following a later x- ray he has been told that this must be the end of his season.
The match took place in constant rain on a soft pitch. Such conditions have suited Tics' in their last two winning home League matches against Kingsbridge and Tiverton, but in both of those matches the weight and power of Jon Woodhead and prop Calvin Bradley had been present and used to advantage, especially in adding to Tics' effective ball carrying options. On this day they were amongst personnel not available.
So it was that worryingly at the first set scrum the Truro eight pushed Torquay's pack off their own put-in; an occurrence which was to happen more than once. All match Torquay were under pressure in this particular set piece and owed much to the ability of No. 8 Lewis Harben to pick up at the back of a retreating scrum and make yardage. His prominent industry was not restricted to attacking, as he did more than his fair share in a significant tackle count by the visitors.
On concession of Tics' first penalty Truro kicked to touch 20 metres out down their right. From the lineout they peeled off infield,working their way across the width of the pitch in three phases before wing Matt Cross was first to react to a loose ball on the ground and he ran over from 10 metres out. Playing only his second game of an injury hit season fly half Mark Richards converted well from wide out for 7 – 0 in the fifth minute.
Using the slight slope to their advantage Torquay worked their way upfield. Wood kicked a penalty to touch to within 10 metres out on his left. Torquay's catch and drive looked a more reliable weapon than that of the home side throughout; made possible by another Carl Turner accurate throwing display.
However following carries by Harben and Mackin a knock on halted progress. Then Truro indiscipline gave Torquay chances to move back into the red zone from two separate penalty kicks to touch. On Tics' fourth successful lineout completion the pack used pick and go's to move closer to the posts, but were then adjudged held up over the try line.
Although under pressure at the resulting scrum Harben picked up and went. A few more pick and go's and the same player was on hand to crash over wide right. Five minutes of sustained Tics' pressure had brought its due reward and it was 7 -5 after 10 minutes.
Truro responded with a long carry by a prop into Tics' 22', but with the try line beckoning a tap tackle managed to bring him down and dislodge the ball. Although Tics' were again pushed back off their own scrum put-in possession was retained and Alex Jeffery put in a good clearance.
Play then fluctuated in the middle third until experienced prop Darren Jacques broke through the middle and timed a pass to his left to put Richards in under the posts. 12 – 5 lead after 25 minutes.
Then a penalised high tackle on centre Ben Spears enabled Wood to kick to within 5 metres down the right. This time the catch and drive was met with Truro defiance, so Tics' moved the ball along the back line. At the next breakdown Torquay's hard working forwards got across re-cycled infield again until more pressure with pick and go's proved too much for the home side to resist and Tics' scored; although there was some debate on whether James Norrish or Josh Mackin secured the touch down. Anyway, Wood converted to tie the scores at 12 – 12 after 32 minutes.
For much of the remainder of the half Torquay were very much on the defensive, but Truro's attempted driving mauls had thus far not been a match for Torquay's efforts at this style of play, so half time was with Torquay able to keep their line unbreached again.
On the resumption Dan King came on for Josh Castleton to add bulk to the front row. However Tics' were pinged at the first scrum and Truro worked their way emphatically down the left before lock Ethan Patterson spotted a gap in the defence and ran through to score, with Richards converting for 19 – 12.
Tics' came back on the attack as another Truro offence enabled Wood to kick to touch close to the Truro 22.' This was followed by good Torquay ball retention until a forward pass broke up the play. The home outfit took full advantage by rumbling forward a full 20 metres at the resulting scrum and then, playing advantage, they moved the ball left to right where Euan Boon got over in the corner despite a last ditch tackle. 24 – 12 in the 57th minute.
Mike Cavanna then replaced Julian Martin on the right wing. Torquay's attacks were now more sporadic, but in their own half the visitors were tackling themselves to a standstill to stem any further flow of points against. A limping Isaac Fahey was then forced to retire. Mackin moved to first receiver in an attempt to give Wood more space wider out.
With five minutes to go Richards made the game seemingly secure with a close range penalty in front of the posts for 27 – 12., but the away side did not give up hope of securing a losing bonus point. As Truro conceded an eighth penalty Wood kicked to 20 metres out down his right. Another secure Torquay lineout and the ball was taken infield, where Truro conceded twice more; the second of which penalty brought a yellow card for Patterson.
Duly encouraged Tics took a quick tap penalty and Harben managed to get over the line with Wood successful with a tricky conversion for 27 – 19.
Playing out time Truro kicked the re-start long, but the ball went dead over the in goal area, giving Tics' a scrum back on halfway. However although they tried there was not sufficient time to add to the score and the final whistle sounded.
Whilst this result enabled Truro to move five points above Tics' in seventh place the loss kept Tics' in eleventh spot, only one point off the second relegation spot, now occupied by Falmouth.
Burnham will now be relegated in bottom place and Tics' face them at home on 7th April , KO 3.00 pm. The pressure is still very much on for all sides in the bottom half.
15 – Tom Drake, 14 – Julian Martin, 13 – Ben Spears, 12 – Josh Mackin, 11 – Josh Hunt, 10 James Wood, 9 – Alex Jeffery,
1 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 2 – Carl Turner, 3 – Josh Castleton, 4 – Tom Whitford (Captain), 5 – James Norrish, 6 – Isaac Fahey, 7 – Jacob Loewy, 8 – Lewis Harben.
Replacements: Mike Cavanna, Dan King and Mitchell Squibb (all played).
The Colts match v Exeter Saracens had to be called off with both the Rec. and Torre Valley North waterlogged by heavy overnight rain. The Extras had no scheduled game.