MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 2nd MARCH 2019
By Website Admin
SOUTH MOLTON 30 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 8
This was an eventual comfortable win for South Molton, although they were made to work hard for the victory, scoring twelve points through two tries at the end of eighty minutes and in time added on in what was a full bloodied contest. The win was based on forward power and domination, which was established at the first set scrum and largely continued throughout.
All of their tries came through the forwards, with two from scrum pushovers and another from a five metre attacking lineout catch and drive. The scorer on each of these three occasions was the burly and hugely experienced No. 8 Dan Smith.
Tics' never stooped attempting to play constructive open rugby by seeking to get the ball crisply along the line to the wide channels in order to keep the ball away from the home forwards as much as possible. Indeed some of the catching and passing by the visitors was the best seen for a number of weeks. Had they used this initiative for the full eighty minutes a week earlier against Lanner they would surely have prevailed in that match.
This was the fourth week in a row that Torquay have had to concede size and weight to the opposition pack due to the legacy of a long injury list. On this occasion last week's Captain, Isaac Fahey failed a late fitness test on his ankle and Jon Woodhead had not recovered sufficiently from a badly bruised back sustained two weeks earlier. Add to that the continued absence of Shane Wakeham, Jake Bury and Lewis Harben.
The always busy George Helmore returned at hooker, with Carl Turner continuing in the back row, joined on the open side by reliable defender Jacob Loewy, who was playing his first League match of the season as open side flanker. Such changes gave Torquay no loss of dynamism in defence, but conceded the weight and power advantage.
The twelve points added by Molton in the final minutes of the game came when Tics' were down to thirteen after two pack members were yellow carded for high tackles.
This meant that Molton were finally able to ram home the second half advantage of playing down the end to end slope. However Torquay will be ruing a high penalty count against (fifteen), at least half of which were for high tackles – a matter that was probably exaggerated by Molton's ball carriers using good, low body positions going into the point of contact. Still, this is a matter which Tics' have fallen foul of quite often recently and needs addressing.
Carrying a back injury himself James Wood was hoping to start on the bench, but this went by the board when another “returnee” Jack Barnes was detained on a morning job appointment in far off Kingsbridge and never arrived. Wood therefore fluctuated between first receiver and full back until he retired ten minutes before the end.
Played in dry conditions with only a light wind Torquay kicked off down the slope, but Molton played their way patiently back up to the opposite half. A penalty against Tic's for a high tackle enabled Molton to get into the 22' for two consecutive lineouts and whilst playing advantage for a second high tackle they managed to get the ball to open side flanker Brendan Darley who ran through a gap after a number of pick and go's had sucked in the Torquay defence.
Fly half Callum Stone converted for 7 – 0 in the seventh minute. Torquay won their first penalty in the 22nd minute in front of the posts, a short distance out and Mawgam Penrice took the chance for a routine kick and three points (7 – 3).
Under more pressure Torquay defended stoutly, but at the cost of a series of penalty concessions. Two five metre out attacking scrums allowed Molton to show their dominance at this set piece and from the second of these Smith dotted down after a pushover for 12 – 3 on the half hour.
Tics' came back strongly from the re-start, but Ben Spears, wide on the left was tackled into touch at the end of a promising move.
Then a ten minute injury time stoppage in the centre as home lock T. Clarke sustained a suspected dislocated knee, in a fair tackle. On the resumption Josh Castleton replaced Helmore in an attempt to shore up the set scrum. Such appeared to have the desired result in the ten minutes leading up to half time, but Helmore returned for the whole of the second half as Castleton's hand injury, sustained two weeks earlier, was not standing up to the demands of a need for full throttle defensive duties.
At the end of the half Tics' were awarded a penalty on half way, but the Referee mistakenly blew for half time without allowing the same and any resultant line out to be taken.
Tics' started the second period brightly with a bullocking run by Spears putting the away side in the right area of the field. A penalty to Torquay was kicked to touch eight metres out but Molton managed to steal the lineout ball and clear.
Then in the 49th minute another penalty for a high tackle on the edge of Tics' 22' gave Stone the chance to increase the lead to 15 – 3, which he duly did by bisecting the posts.
Almost immediately Torquay responded positively despite a misdirected pass behind the backs putting the visitors on the back foot. However, Wood recovered the ball deep in his own half on the left and conjured some space by beating a couple of ball chasers. The move was carried on up the left with good support from Loewy, Helmore and Spears, all showing good hands.
The ball was then switched at speed to the right finding Lloyd Penhalagan who was stopped just short of the try line. Quick re-cycling to Nathan Pring saw the right wing dart over to touch down. Penrice's attempted conversion from the touchline kissed the outside of the post so it was 15 – 8 in the 58th minute.
The high tackle penalty count against Torquay continued; although the visitors were disappointed that two such tackles by Molton were either not seen by the Devon Referee or not interpreted as such. The second of these led to Turner requiring treatment, but he was able to continue.
Stone missed with a very kickable penalty and then as Tics' continued to defend centre Ash Sharpe won rare trunover ball at a ruck, before Tics' were pinged for a tenth time and then idle backchat gave Stone another ten metres less to reach the posts with his kick, which he duly did to make it 18 – 8.
Tics' response was to again move the ball sweetly upfield but 10 metres in front of the posts No. 8 Smith got his hands on the ball to slow down ruck ball and the visitors were penalised for holding on.
The penalty count against continued for Torquay with Tom Whitford shown yellow for a high tackle, followed by a brief on-field dust up. Wood then retired as James Norrish came into the forward pack off the bench. Another penalty and Molton kicked to five metres out on the right before executing a catch and drive to score – Smith again getting the touchdown under a pile of bodies. 23 – 8.
Now playing the ten minutes added time Penhalagan was next to feel the Referee's displeasure, also being yellow carded for a high tackle. Despite this Tics' could still muster enough spirit to work their way to six metres from the Molton line before the home side managed another steal to kick clear.
When Molton returned to the opposite end another penalty against Torquay enabled choice of a 5 metre out attacking scrum from which, against the much depleted Tics side, another pushover came about with Smith getting his try hatrick. Stone' s conversion for 30 – 8 was the final action of the game.
15 – James Wood, 14 – Nathan Pring, 13 – John Berry, 12 – Ash Sharpe, 11 – Ben Spears, 10 – Mawgan Penrice, 9 – Gavin Blacoe,
1 -Liam Murray, 2 – George Helmore, 3 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 4 – James Davies, 5 – Tom Whitford, 6 – Carl Turner, 7 – Jacob Loewy, 8 Josh Mackin (Captain).
Replacements: James Norrish, Josh Castleton (both played) and Jack Barnes.
At the Rec. the Extras were pleased that Plymouth University Thirds were able to bing a full squad of twenty one to play a DMT2SW Merit game.
Unfortunately, partly because of First Team calls our Seconds lacked recognised backs, with only three such players starting and the rest of the threes' made up of normal pack players. Such included Jonathan Woodhead who spent twenty minutes in each half playing at centre to try and get some fitness back – but he did not chance further pressure on his sore back by packing down. The younger and quicker students were able to run out winners by 38 – 19.
The Colts won a Plate Merit match at TVN against Withycombe Under 18's despite having the bare bones of a side and giving debuts to two new recruits. It was a young squad, with only five second year Colts present.
Desire and effort got the young Tics through in a hard fought match, although Coach Adam Last said that better game management in the red zone should have yielded more points.
As it was two tries were scored by Ben Thomas. Chris Bodgen converted one and kicked a penalty in a 15 – 0 win which was characterised by strong Torquay defence, allowing Withy' only two visits to the home 22' all game .
Next Saturday both our Firsts and Extras are home in League action to Tavistock with a 3.00 pm KO at the Rec. and TVN. The match is kindly sponsored by the Past Players Association, for whose Members a buffet will be served in the Presidents Lounge from 2.00 pm