MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 1st DECEMBER 2018
TORQUAY ATHLETIC 52 v WITHYCOMBE 3
As the scoreline indicates Torquay Athletic won this match quite comfortably and with all due respect to Withycombe, such was to be expected. The East Devon side have unfortunately be going through a difficult patch of late and a heavy 76 – 0 defeat at the hands of Topsham had been followed last week by having to surrender the match points to Penryn, when Withy' could not field a front row for their home match.
One has to look back to September for their only two wins this campaign – both at home to Hayle and Lanner.
The first half saw Tics' garner six tries with some ease and the match at that stage took on the look of a training run. Such was largely due to the sensible use of the wide channels, playing simple and accurate rugby by popping the ball along the back line for three of those tries.
However Torquay's second half display was far more stuttering. Part of this was due to a spirited performance from Withy', whose half time introduction of No 8 Alex Taylor from the bench and back from injury, introduced far more penetrative go forward for them.
It may have also been partly due to Tics' playing into the much wetter half of the pitch, where ground conditions were not so reliable. From the early part of the second half Torquay were up against fourteen men, after a Withy' prop was dismissed for a blatant punch, following a scrum.
Unfortunately part of Tics' problems in that second period appeared self imposed as the home side started to lose technical discipline and shape; often using the less reliable method of long miss passes to try and get beyond the final Withycombe defender.
After a week of very heavy rain a full morning's dry respite proved sufficient to avoid switching the game to Torre Valley North. Conditions were overcast, but with no appreciable wind.
Within the starting XV there was a return for Mawgan Penrice, playing at full back. He again struck the ball sweetly for some wide out conversions. Up front Lloyd Penhalagan started at tight head and James Davies in the second row in place of the unavailable Joel Hempton.
Tics' were 7 – 0 up after five minutes as Withy' handed the home Team the initiative, with their starting drop out going straight out on the full. Quick lineout ball off the top on the Withy' 10 metre line was carried on with a good break from Alex Brown at first receiver. The centre was making his 50th First Team appearance. He maintained continuity with a clever looped one handed offload allowing fellow centre Ben Spears to run in strongly from the 22' and score under the posts.
A minute later James Wood ran back a clearing kick to put Jonny Brown in the clear down the right touchline, but the pass was adjudged forward by 19 year old visiting Referee Cameron Pettit – on exchange from Denver, Colorado, who put in a very competent officiating display.
Jonny Brown was not kept quiet for too long and in the twelfth minute he came off his right wing to finish off a swift pop-pop-pop back move in the left hand corner with Penrice converting from the touchline for 14 – 0.
When Withy were twice penalised Wood kicked to five metres out and, as against Topsham a week earlier, the catch and drive was in good working order with Jake Bury getting the touchdown.
There was no respite for the visitors as from the re-start Tics' moved the ball economically through the hands of Alex Brown and Spears to put Jonny Brown free on the right and he ran in behind the posts to enable a simple Penrice conversion and a score of 26 – 0 and a four try bonus point, all within the first quarter of the match.
Again Torquay showed enterprise from the kick off with Carl Turner on a strong carry through centre field, taking the ball up to the 22.' Withy conceded a penalty at the breakdown and in a familiar pattern Wood kicked to the touchline five metres out, followed by a catch and drive and Bury's second try. 31 – 0 in the 24th minute.
Dan McKenna then replaced Spears in the backline; the latter nursing a tweaked hamstring.
In a rare visit to Tics' 22' Withy' got on the scoreboard for the only time in the match with a penalty 20 metres out in front of the posts by Paddy Haddard.
Tics' then returned to exerting territorial pressure as Withy' were forced to carry over, yielding a five metre scrum to Tics'. An efficient and controlled drive saw scrum half Josh Hunt able to apply downward pressure on the ball at the back and Penrice hit another wide out conversion to make it 38 – 3 at the break.
Far from being demoralised Withycombe came out on the attack and if anything the “out of the blue” punching offence, correctly leading to a straight red card, appeared to galvanise their efforts even further.
In the six minutes to elapse after the break Tics' conceded five penalties and much territory as a result. Jon Woodhead had come on for Davies and McKenna had moved to No. 9 in place of Hunt. That Withycombe then gave a thorough examination of Tics' defensive capabilities for a full ten minutes. was perhaps not a bad thing because of the recognised much sterner tests to come in the following weeks
However despite Withy' getting within a whisker of a touchdown by pummelling the Tics' defensive line with a series of pick and go's the home try line was kept unbreached.
Relief came with an accidental offside offence against Withy' and after the resulting scrum Torquay worked a passage downfield.
Then finding himself in a backline going right to left Captain Bury threw an outrageous dummy, with a large hole opening up for him to run through from the 22' and dot down under the posts with Penrice's conversion following to make it 45 – 3.
The Skipper is amassing a formidable try scoring tally (having scored four the previous week v Topsham) and is fully justifying his appointment as on-field leader, despite his being newly arrived from Teignmouth only this term.
The final eighth try came with a sniping run from the 22' by an alert McKenna, whose speed off the mark took him through the first line of defence on won ruck ball. This enabled Tics' to breach the half century mark, with the Penrice conversion making it 52 – 3 in the 57th minute, with some injury time still to play. However the final whistle sounded immediately after the conversion kick.
This result keeps Tics' in fifth place in the Table, although the points margin between them and top of the Table Bude was cut to eight points, as the North Cornwall side were unable to record a bonus point in what was a valuable away win for them at Plymstock Albion Oaks.
Our visitors for the next home match in two weeks time, Honiton, put in a strong performance for an 11 – 44 away victory at South Molton; whilst Penryn replaced Plymstock in the second promotion spot (six points above Torquay) with a 6 – 32, four try win at Pirates Amateurs.
15 – Mawgan Penrice, 14 -Jonny Brown, 13 – Ben Spears, 12 – Alex Brown, 11 – Ryan Hanauer, 10 – James Wood, 9 – Josh Hunt,
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Bertie Turner, 3 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 – James Davies, 6 – Isaac Fahey, 7 – Jake Bury (Captain), 8 -Josh Mackin.
Replacements: Josh Castleton, Jon Woodhead and Dan McKenna (all played).
Next week Tics' make the long journey to the Duchy to play Lanner, a mid table side who some may regard as having a typically Cornish Club set of results: Failing to win on the road in six attempts; but winning all but one of their home ties, including a surprise toppling of Honiton. Consequently Tics' will need to be at their strongest and best for this journey.
The Extras travelled to Salcombe, with the South Hams outfit currently top of DMT2 SW. But three late player withdrawals in the First Team squad meant that they went there with a bare fifteen, although the game was able to start with contested scrums.
Manager Rob Harman said a couple of players suffered dead legs, but stayed on; albeit with much reduced mobility and a yellow card for a high tackle did no favours to the cause.
The result was a 26 – 5 loss, although the general feeling was that if replacements had boosted squad numbers the result could have gone either way and that the scoreline slightly flattered the home victors.
ADVANCE NOTICE: - The Boxing Day match for the Chris Penford Cup will kick off @ 12.30 pm.