MATCH REPORT- SATURDAY 24th NOVEMBER 2018
TORQUAY ATHLETIC 43 v TOPSHAM 7
Torquay Athletic won this League encounter convincingly after being given an early scare when Topsham went 0- 7 up in the second minute after turning ball over on Tics' 10 metre line and mounting a swift attack going right to left, with scorer Jiggy Tapp having the time and comfort to run around behind the posts to facilitate a conversion by scrum half Ben Hancock.
However that was the first and last time that the visitors genuinely threatened the Torquay try line.
Tics' were without talisman second row Jon Woodhead, due to injury, but managed to dominate the set scrums and after a couple of early mishaps the line out went well enough to yield four tries through close in catch and drives.
In the front row Bertie Turner and Liam Murray returned from injury, whilst in the backs' centre Alex Brown did the same, with Arron Graham appearing on the left wing following a prolonged lay-off. Mawgan Penrice was absent, so James Wood stepped into the No. 10 shirt, with Tom Drake at his preferred position of full back.
Heavy overnight rain and persistent, although lighter, precipitation during the morning and the match produced a pitch which was holding water in some isolated areas and such conditions made ball handling difficult at times, allied to low temperatures – in fact a thoroughly miserable day, weather wise.
Following the initial shock of going behind Torquay were level by the tenth minute, having just squandered an earlier chance to put points on the board, when Bertie Turner, sent clear by Wood , lost his footing only metres from the line, with a Tic's back in the clear outside him.
However during this move Topsham had conceded a penalty, so Tics' kicked to touch and from short distance a catch and drive was set up with Captain Jake Bury getting the touchdown. Wood converted from wide out.
The first scrum of the match was re-set, but the next pack down yielded a second penalty to Torquay and again the option was taken to secure another five metre attacking lineout. Tom Whitford caught the ball and transferred it to Bury at the back, who peeld off and twisted over to dot down. It was thus 14 – 7 at the end of the first quarter after Wood's conversion hit the left hand upright and bounced over.
A last ditch tackle by full back Ollie Gibbon then prohibited another score by home right wing Jonny Brown, only a minute later.
Tics' remained on the offensive for the next ten minutes and thought another score had arrived when the Tops full back misjudged a grubber in the in goal area and failed to touch it down. Of two Tics' chasers Jonny Brown reached the ball first but the Referee adjudged that his touch down had occurred after the ball had rolled over the dead ball line.
Next Lewis Harben showed determination with a run through the middle, carrying on as Tops defenders fell off tackles. Unfortunately when he was held up over the line he needed treatment to a recurrent ankle injury and retired. This time the Topsham pack held the Torquay eight at the resulting scrum five, but the ball was moved left and off second phase No. 8 Josh Mackin broke through to score for 19 – 7 after 33 minutes play.
Mackin scored again four minutes later to bring a four try bonus point. This, after Graham had caught a clearing kick and chased his own grubber through into the 22' before securing the loose ball on the ground. Support was quick and Mackin scored off first phase ball with a strong run to make it 24 – 7.
Topsham then made a rare incursion into Tics' 22', but their efforts came to nothing and half time arrived.
The early stages of the second period were characterised by fractured play with a series of knock-ons and Topsham failing to throw straight for the fourth time at their own lineout, hence failing to build any attacking momentum.
Ash Sharp had replaced Harben and in the 57th minute another long term injury victim in the shape of Lloyd Penhalagan replaced Liam Murray, whilst newcomer Dan McKenna was given a home debut at No. 9.
It was not until the final quarter that Tics' started another scoring sequence and it came from another attacking lineout. The drive separated into two pods and perhaps it was fortunate that the Referee did not penalise the home side. Instead Jake Bury got his try hatrick after the reconstituted eight man maul moved infield and then out again for him to get over under a pile of bodies. 29 – 7.
As the light faded entering the final ten minutes Tics' returned to Topsham's 22' and in front of the posts secured another scrum penalty. Again this was kicked to touch to exploit Tops discomfort at combating the rolling maul and sure enough Bury made it four tries, with Wood converting from the right touchline to make it 36 – 7.
Then a break by Wood scything and tip toeing a path through a tired defence to set up another attack and inside the Topsham 22' centre Nathan Pring took over to barge through in the corner – a try which Wood again converted for 43 – 7.
With the visitors visibly wilting Tics' came back strongly from the re-start kick, running the ball from deep down the left wing channel, but a poor pass could not be taken in a promising position and the attack came to an end; as did the match. Tics' forward domination had yielded six of the seven tries scored and with more sympathetic passing in the conditions the 50 point tally might have been reached.
Tics' remain in fifth spot in the League Table following this win, with the deficit on the second promotion spot cut to eight points after previously unbeaten leaders Plymstock Albion Oaks were soundly beaten at Honiton.
Bude take over at the top with Penryn remaining in third after their opponents Withycombe failed to raise a front row for their home match versus the Cornish Club; thus conceding the match points.
Tics next game happens to be at home on 1st December (KO 2.30 pm) with the Exmouth based Withycombe, who now hold up the rest of the League, being the opposition.
15 – Tom Drake, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – Alex Brown, 12 – Nathan Pring, 11 – Arron Graham, 10 – James Wood, 9 – Josh Hunt,
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Bertie Turner, 3 Josh Castleton, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 – Joel Hempton, 6 – Lewis Harben, 7 – Jake Bury, 8 – Josh ackin,
Replacements: Dan McKenna, Lloyd Penhalagan and Ash Sharp (all played).
The Extras had no game when DHSOB's cried off for lack of players on Thursday and attempts to find an alternative home game were unsuccessful, which ( and not for the first time this season) was a disappointment for twenty two home players itching to get on the park.
Better news for the Colts who made the journey to South Molton and came back from a 12 – 7 half time deficit to score four tries and win 24 – 17 in what Coach Adam Last descibed as a cracking game of rugby and a good advert for the Under 18 competition. The young Tics evidently galvanised themselves to hold out for the last five minutes against strong South Molton pressure.
A reminder that the popular Past Players Christmas Lunch takes place on Friday 14th December @ 7.00 pm for 7.30 pm. Tickets are said to be selling well. Colin Whitford will be at the Club on Saturday 1st December to collect monies for tickts which are priced at 20 pounds per person for a 3 course meal. If you wish to speak to him before then please call 07795 294309