MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 3rd NOVEMBER 2018
TORQUAY ATHLETIC 35 v SOUTH MOLTON 18
This result brought back a smile to the faces of Torquay Athletic supporters. Given the fraught build up to a potentially difficult fixture there is no doubt that at 2.30 pm the Club would have been more than delighted to take the maximum five League points and deny the opposition any at all.
Fraught: Because of major injury problems – real and not imagined – which robbed the Selectors of five players who had already figured in a starting front row this season. To cover this situation Steve Smith was persuaded to come out of First Team rugby retirement two years after his boots started gathering dust and his known strong scrummaging and good lineout throwing was to help significantly.
Potentially difficult: Because South Molton had only lost twice all season and that in matches against the top two sides in the Division.
In the backs it was necessary to fix and mend with two players out of their preferred positions and a fourth, Nathan Pring, making his first appearance of the season at any level, following a serious hand injury last season.
Tics' kicked off towards the cricket square with a wind at their backs; although the same abated as the match progressed.
Mawgan Penrice was bumped twice in the opening two minutes in making tackles, but after treatment was able to carry on and proceeded to give a master class in both place kicking and ball from hand kicking.
The home side's first promising move came after a passing error, salvaged when right wing Jonny Brown tidied up and made ground from his 10 metre line to the opposite 22; where a knock on halted a promising phase.
Then a little episode of “handbags” on the touchline brought about a yellow card against Molton lock Barnaby Newell for some “afters.” The resulting penalty was kicked to 8 metres out on the left. Shane Wakeham went blind off the lineout, followed by Tom Whitford being held up over the try line.
Three attacking 5 metre scrums followed and although a pass from the base went awry Tics' again rescued the situation and the ball was moved left to Ryan Hanauer, who jinked inside and then put Captain Jake Bury in to score from close range with a deft back of the hand pass. Penrice converted for 7 – 0 in the twelfth minute.
Torquay came straight back to the attack from the re-start with first a Pring carry, continuing with more involvement from Bury. When Molton were pinged another close in opportunity arose for Tics' at a lineout but, as would happen in the second half in identical circumstances, the home pack were not able to satisfy Devon Society Referee Mr. Andy Coles OBE on the manner in which the maul was formed and Tics' were penalised and the chance gone.
On the visitors first foray into the Torquay half with ball in hand a score came about from a lineout on Torquay's 22', with the ball worked to the opposite left wing, helped by a dart by No. 8 Dan Smith. Hooker Richard Clark got over the line, but full back James Campbell could not improve the score with his conversion attempt, so it was 7 – 5 in the nineteenth minute.
Torquay then came close by running back a Molton penalty kick which failed to make touch. A weaving run by full back Tony McCarthy released Brown, who was tackled 2 metres short and then penalised for holding on.
Following a turnover by Molton they advanced upfield and a penalty gave Campbell a shot at goal but he was short from 35 metres. For the second time Penrice belted a re-start kick into space, which made touch back in the opposition half. However as Tics' sought to settle again in that half a third knock on by the backs halted progress.
Then a long flowing move from Tics' going right to left on turnover ball, putting Hanauer in at the corner; only for play to be brought back for an adjudged earlier forward pass. However Tics' stayed on the attack and got a penalty only 15 metres out and in front of the posts, which Penrice duly slotted for 10 – 5 after thirty two minutes.
Four minutes later another Molton offence was punished by Penrice with a much longer penalty kick, as Tics' took a pragmatic view on building a lead to 13 – 5. This was followed by an even better kick from just inside the Molton half as Penrice increased the gap to 16 – 5.
Another McCarthy run up to half way from the re-start came to nothing and it remained 16 – 5 at the break. The score certainly reflected Torquay's first half superiority and greater invention (they had always looked dangerous when running the ball) but greater accuracy might have yielded more tries.
On the resumption James Davies replaced Joel Hempton at lock. When a Tics' tackler failed to roll away quick enough Campbell kicked a penalty to make it 16 – 8.
Then a good try by the home side using width to stretch the defence. Bury was again involved with a straightening the line run and despite what looked like a dangerous high tackle on him Josh Mackin made the try line down the right and another long range Penrice kick moved it to 23 – 8 in the forty seventh minute.
Straightaway Tics' conceded another penalty, but again Campbell was not able to direct his kick between the posts.
In the fifty second minute Josh Lydon replaced Dan King at prop. The next Torquay score was really well crafted and once again using the wide channels Brown was able to run in after a gain line breaking surge by Mackin up middle created gaps. James Wood was involved twice, finally finding Brown with a long try scoring floated pass to the touchline, the taking of which meant the winger did not have to break stride.
Penrice's conversion attempt struck the post and bounced out – his only miss all afternoon, so it was 28 – 8 entering the final quarter.
South Molton now came to life by scoring two catch and drive tries from close to the try line in the sixty fourth and seventy first minutes. Both used a no. one jumper short throw and came perhaps a little too easily for Tics' liking as , before that, their defence had stood up well in open play, preventing South Molton from getting over the gain line time after time. Campbell was not able to better the scores with two conversion attempts so it was now 28 – 18 with nine minutes remaining.
Molton came back into the red zone with their tails definitely up, but were penalised for a rash and unnecessary piece of play by a lock, who rushed through to obstruct the Tic's defence.
It was only the second penalty conceded by the visitors in the second period, thus far, but when two became three times the initiative was handed back to Torquay starting with a penalty kick finding touch 8 metres out on the left.
Again width brought dividends with the ball moved swiftly to the right to find Davies in space. Although he had another black and white shirt in the clear on his right he elected to take on the last defender himself. Despite an exaggerated juggle of the ball, which must have given watching Tics' supporters palpitations, he managed to hold on and touch down. Penrice's conversion was the last action meaning the final score was 35 – 18.
A most invaluable win in which the whole back row had been quite outstanding. One possible thing to address is the number of occasions on which Tics' erred with adjudged high tackles in the opinion of Mr. Coles. If Referees are under directives to police this area of the game very closely (as seems to be the case) then Tics defenders perhaps need to adapt accordingly.
This result allows Tics' to replace South Molton in fifth place; eight points behind the second promotion spot. A free week might now allow more injuries to clear up before the next four games pit Torquay against Clubs in the bottom part of the Table. First up is third from bottom Tavistock (away) on 17th November.
15 – Tony McCarthy, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – Tom Drake, 12 – Nathan Pring, 11 – Ryan Hanauer, 10 – Mawgan Penrice, 9 – James Woodd,
1 – Steve Smith, 2 – George Helmore, 3 – Dan King, 4 – Joel Hempton, 5 – Tom Whitford, 6 – Shane Wakeham, 7 – Jake Bury, 8 – Josh Mackin,
Replacements : Josh Lydon, Ben Spears and James Davies (all played)
The Extras went over the Tamar to St Columba and Torpoint in DMT2 SW action, but came back with another set of injuries after a 29 – 12 loss – their first reverse of the season.
Unfortunately the Colts intended opposition cried off for want of raising a Team – the second time such has occurred in successive weeks. These are difficult times for Under 18's rugby locally with Newton Abbot unable to enter a Team in the Devon Merit competition and both Paignton and Teignmouth failing to raise sides for Saturday's scheduled fixtures.