MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 26th JANUARY 2019
By Website Admin
TORQUAY ATHLETIC 38 v PIRATES AMATEURS 7
As they would have hoped following a four try bonus point win in Penzance by 15 – 24 in early October Torquay Athletic duly won this return as comfortably as the scoreline might suggest.
Fortunately the inherited dire injury list from the previous week's loss at Penryn improved; meaning that both Josh Castleton and Jake Bury could take their places in the starting lineup – the latter in his preferred back row slot.
However full back Tom Drake was ruled out with a shoulder in jury, despite finishing the game at Penryn. Josh Mackin returned after a long injury lay off, but played in the centre, with John Berry as his partner (the latter also returning following weeks out with a wrist problem).
The game started in fine drizzle with a strengthening wind. By the time Tics' started the second half kicking towards the sea there was rain sweeping down the pitch into their faces.
Pirates had travelled by cars and for the first five minutes looked as if they had not recovered from a long drive; conceding two tries , both under the posts.
First, from the Tics' kick off the Pirates full back fumbled the ball sending it backwards into the in goal area where he was forced to touch down, giving Torquay a 5 metre attacking scrum before they had touched the ball. Tics' dominated this set piece for large parts of the match and a quick heel was switched to Mackin at first receiver. His impact was immediate, breaking three or four poor attempted tackles to score.
Pirates did not help themselves by kicking the re-start kick out on the full, yielding a scrum back to the home side on half way. From this James Wood at full back made a decisive break going right and on the opposition 22' he timed a pass to Isaac Fahey who did not have to break stride to get in under the posts again. Mawgan Penrice converted both these scores so it was 14 – 0 very early on.
Tics' next attack offered a four on three advantage , but a forward pass saw the chance pass by. In the 23rd minute tight head prop Lloyd Penhalagan retired after sustaining a gash to the top of his head. He was replaced by Josh Lydon.
There was then a lull in Torquay's attacking impetus until two penalties against Pirates gave Tics' field position until another forward pass blighted a scoring opportunity.
The wet ball was also adversely affecting Torquay's forward momentum as a series of knock-ons ensued (from both sides). However, as those who watched the Bristol v Exeter Chiefs game on TV will appreciate seasoned professionals were also guilty of spilling ball in worsening conditions.
Nevertheless there were still some pieces of skill that shone out; one of these being a Jon Woodhead take of a pass around his boot laces to set off breaking tackles through centre field. He was twice more involved in this move, allowing Tics' to threaten in the red zone; culminating in a five metre attacking lineout.
Castleton threw well all match, despite the conditions and a catch on this occasion was mauled ot the line with Bury getting the touchdown in the 38th minute for 19 – 0. A conversion attempt from out wide by Penrice hit the right hand upright and bounced out so at half time the score remained at that margin.
Two minutes after the break Pirates had a prop yellow carded on the totting up procedure after not releasing the tackled man.
When Torquay made their first incursion upfield courtesy of a bull dozing run by Woodhead it led to the same player being adjudged held up over the try line. Tics' forward domination continued with a pushover try dotted down by Fahey. In the aftermath of the score some “afters” led to a yellow card for another Pirates forward as instigator with Bury also seeing yellow for retaliation. 49 minutes had passed. Meanwhile Penrice converted from wide out and against the prevailing wind so it was 26 – 0.
Despite being down to thirteen men Pirates responded with a try almost immediately as No. 10 Isaac Blackbourn burst through tackles from the 22' on a diagonal run towards the posts, before sliding in to score and then kick the conversion for 26 – 7. In truth it was the first and last time that the visitors truly threatened the home try line, although their second half performance was altogether more convincing .
Once they returned to a compliment of fifteen on the park Pirates seemed to stem the domination that Torquay had exercised thus far at scrum time.
James Davies then made way for Ryan Dunn to come into the back row with Tom Whitford moving up one to lock.
Then a quite unusual try; albeit well thought out and worked, with Tics' forwards thinking on their feet. A defensive lineout to Pirates five metres from their own try line was caught, but Torquay did not engage in a maul, so that when Woodhead burst around the end of the line to attack the ball catcher he was not offside. Instead he ripped the ball and simply fell over the try line unhindered for 31- 7 at the end of the third quarter.
After 64 minutes scrum half Gavin Blacoe retired with a groin strain. Wood moved into the no. 9 slot with Tony McCarthy going on at full back..
Tics' attacks now became more sporadic and although they only conceded six penalties over the 80 minutes , four of these followed in short order, giving Pirates three separate attempts at a short range catch and drive, but on none of those occasions could they break through the Tics' defensive set.
Torquay then scored a fine try late on. A scrum on the opposition 22' wide out left saw a quick heel. A strong carry off the back from Fahey found Mackin in support and his gained ground allowed Wood to finish off an accurate and rapidly executed score. Penrice converted for 38 – 7, giving some symmetry to the scoreline (with nineteen points scored in each half by the home side).
Despite the deteriorating conditions Tics' had amassed more points scored than any other side in the same League on this wet Saturday.
Next up is another long trip to Lanner. Players will know from the first incomplete game that despite having won only six out of seventeen matches the Cornish outfit are obdurate on their short and sloping home ground, where their three defeats have come against sides in the top four of the League.
15 – James Wood, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – John Berry, 12 – Josh Mackin, 11 – Luke Hedges, 10 – Mawgan Penrice, 9 – Gavin Blacoe,
1 – Josh Castleton, 2 – George Helmore, 3 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 4 – Jon Woodhead, 5 – James Davies, 6 – Tom Whitford, 7 – Jake Bury, 8 – Issac Fahey.
Replacements: Ryan Dunn , Josh Lydon and Tony McCarthy (all played).
It was a case of dejavu for the Extras in DMT2SW. In October at the Rec. Kingsbridge Seconds could only muster ten players. Torquay lent and played thirteen a side. Although the opposition actually won that game the Merit Table Administrator agreed that Tics' should be awarded a 20 – 0 win.
On their visit to Kingsbridge for the return our Seconds, with a squad of nineteen, found the High House Club in the same position as in October, with just ten players. Again Tics' lent for a fourteen a side friendly. Tics won that encounter 19 – 8 but were once again awarded a 20 – 0 Merit Table result. Credit is due to those Torquay players who agreed (not for the first time this season) to turn out in opposition colours so that twenty five players could get a run-out.
The Colts were worthy winners at TVN with a 43 – 5 win over Exeter Athletic There was a need to adapt to certain conditions, according to Coach Adam Last. The prescribed game plan was well executed in a match which started with fourteen per side, but within which Torquay found themselves down to thirteen after ten minutes.
Four first half tries by Chris Brogden, Jake Brady (2) and Harrison Gill helped to place Tics' at 26 – 0 up by the break. There was scrappy set piece, but lots of space to use. The match was eventually reduced to twelve per side when Torquay added tries through sipper Peter Alderson and two from Ben Thomas. Conversions were kicked by Louie Smith (3) and Jake Shinner (1).