MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 9th FEBRUARY 2019
By Website Admin
PLYMOUTH ARGAUM 7 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 17
Back in October on a dry, wram and still day Torquay Athletic had used a fast running open game plan to put eleven tries on Plymouth Argaum in a rampant 73- 17 win, in which right wing Jonny Brown had scored four tries.
Conditions were very different for the return match in February on a sloping pitch, with parts of the surface sticky following heavy rain and a cold, strong wind blowing across the width of the pitch from nearby Dartmoor.
Not only that, Tics' travelled with a significant number of injuries and unavailability problems, leading to a wide range of personnel and positional changes from the starting lineup of the last home League game, which had seen a comfortable win against Pirates Amateurs with a 38 – 7 scoreline. Such changes were spread across the playing spectrum of the starting XV with three in the backs and four in the forwards.
Josh Castleton was the only survivor from the starting front row last time out. Thus prop Josh Lydon made his First XV starting debut, as did hooker Sam Taylor, recently transferred from Paignton.
There was also an additional challenge in the form of a mightily fired up opposition, who showed no hangover from their earlier reverse at the Rec. They had been well prepared by their Coaching staff.
As such all those in a Tics' shirt needed to “turn up” and they duly did, putting three tries and seventeen points on the board before Argaum gained some late compensation for their efforts with a converted try in the 80th minute.
With a new look and lighter pack trying to gel quickly Torquay were put on the back foot by being dominated at a number of set scrums; conceding at least three scrum penalties and being pushed back regularly by a heavier and more cohesive scrummaging home eight.
That Tics' did not suffer more from this considerable disadvantage was due to a combination of factors: First, Taylor taking two strikes against the head and secondly through excellent timely picking up at the base and the making of good ground by first Jake Bury and later Shane Wakeham.
Add to the above the fact that when deep in defence Tics' allied the two facets described above with uncomplicated clearing of their lines through deep kicks and providing a potent attacking force, when moving the ball through the hands.
A good start, playing with the slope saw Torquay take the lead within seven minutes. Taylor had already taken the first scrum against the head before a penalty kicked to touch put the visitors up to the opposition 22.'
Good runs by Mawgan Penrice and left wing Ben Spears were a foretaste of things to come as Torquay stretched the home defence by moving the ball to the left, then across the whole width to the right and back again with Spears bumping off two defenders on his way to the line. 0 – 5.
Soon Tics' were back on the attack with two penalty offences by Argaum enabling the setting up of field position. On the second of consecutive attempts at lineout catch and drives Tics' were adjudged held up over the line. Argaum pushed too early at the resultant scrum five and Captain Jake Bury reacted quickest with a tap free kick and a dart and dive from five metres out, managing to telescope his carrying arm over the line to dot down. It was 0 – 10 in the fifteenth minute.
Argaum then enjoyed their best spell of possession and territory so far before a Tics' breakout nearly led to another try, after the home side had knocked on inside the Torquay 22'. The ball was pounced on by centre Andy Gormley who mad good ground to the opposite 22.' before being caught.
Argaum then came closest to scoring from an attacking lineout, but just when accuracy was needed in a series of pick and go's Jake Bury managed a turnover just two metres from the try line. Five minutes prior to that Josh Castleton retired with a damaged hand, although he was to return for the final quarter at hooker. Dan King deputised from the bench.
That Torquay did not score again before the break was due to some committed last ditch tackling by Argaum – a facet which continued throughout the match.
After the break Argaum, now playing with the slope, established greater dominance at scrum time, so Torquay rang some changes with Tom Whitford moving up from No 6 to the second row and Ash Sharp introduced on the flank.
Tics' still appeared more fluent in possession, but with the ball getting ever more slippery they tried too often to force matters with long miss passes to the wide channels, making drift defence for the home side easier.
Then with 20 minutes to go a blow for Tics' and for their Captain Bury who went down in considerable pain with what was later diagnosed as a torn medial knee ligament. He was carried off the pitch, after an influential all action performance.
Nevertheless with ten minutes plus time added on to go Tics' went further ahead. This time the ball was moved with short accurate passes reaching Spears out wide. His dash down the left and then cute step inside the covering full back enabled him to break infield and dot down under the posts. A good individual try. Penrice's conversion made it 0 – 17.
Torquay then faced a full six minutes of intense Argaum pressure inside their own 22.' However the try line was not breached until burly lock Dan Smith seemed certain to score with a decisive burst, but he dropped the ball over the try line.
The same player had struck twice in the 73 -17 defeat at the Rec., but he was not to be denied and did manage to ground the ball at the end from short range, with full back Dungemans converting from wide out before the final whistle sounded.
This was a gutsy performance in which Torquay always seemed to have a bit more nous than the hosts in breaking down a determined defence. Conversely Tics' own defence, although seldom tested close to the try line, had coped well through a commited display.
Next week sees the visit of fourth placed Plymstock Albion Oaks, who lie one place and fourteen points above Tics' in the League Table. Torquay have a game in hand (at Lanner on 23/02) and if they are able to manage a home win still stand a theoretical chance of overhauling Oaks into fourth place, as the visitors have difficult away fixtures at Bude (third) and Penryn (top) still to come, plus a home game v Honiton (second).
Kick off at the Rec. v Plymstock Albion Oaks will be 2.30 pm. This is Vice Presidents' Day and those Vice Presidents wishing to attend the pre-match buffet are asked please to contact Chris Edwards (ideally by text on 07986 889838), who is collating numbers.
15 – Tom Drake, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – Luke Hedges, 12 -Andy Gormley, 11 – Ben Spears, 10 m- Mawgan Penrice, 9 – James Wood,
1 – Josh Lydon, 2 – Sam Taylor, 3 – Josh Castleton, 4 – Joel Hempton, 5 – James Davies, 6 – Tom Whitford, 7 – Shane Wakeham, 8 m- Jake Bury (Captain).
Replacements: Dan King, James Norrish and Ash Sharp (all played).
Unfortunately the Extras Merit Table fixture away to Argaum Seconds did not take place. Despite promptings two weeks ahead Argaum did not respond until Thursday morning before the game to advise that they could only muster two players (in addition to the eighteen required for the First Team game). This is the fifth time that a Plymouth based Merit Table Club has cried off from a Merit fixture because of a lack of numbers. The situation has been made worse by such cry-off often coming late in the week before the scheduled match.
The Colts had a somewhat disrupted build up to their Merit game at Tavistock. First their full back was stuck in traffic and was late to arrive for the start. Second the two remaining replacements were both props and thirdly the centres pairing was of two players who normally occupy the back row.
Coach Adam Last reported that playing against the wind in the first half the young Tics' were forced on the defensive within their own 22 ' for more than 50% of that period. Eventually they conceded a penalty goal and a converted try to go 10 – 0 down.
During this period one of the replacements was called on to substitute for the starting prop who had sustained an injured hand.
However Ben Thomas scored on the stroke of half time to make it 10 – 5 before changing round with the wind in their favour.
Tics' scored soon after the resumption, again through Thomas, with a well worked front peel at the lineout to level the scores An injury to Tavistock then led to uncontested scrums for the remainder. From one of these Tavvy regained the lead with a try for a 15 – 10 lead.
With ten minutes left Pete Alanson barrelled over the try line with Chris Bogden converting for 15 – 17. A bonus point win came two minutes from full time following good hands putting Nathan Tissot over in the corner for a good 15 -22 win.