MATCH REPORTS – SATURDAY 6th & SUNDAY 7th APRIL 2019
By Website Admin
TORQUAY V LANNER & SIDMOUTH II'S V EXTRAS
Torquay Athletic squeezed home with a win in the final home League game before a bumper crowd, swelled by the re-union of Pilgrim Fathers, who sponsored the match and fine, sunny weather.
As for the previous week against relegated and bottom side Withycombe, Tics' somewhat lost their way after a four try bonus point had established a 26 – 0 lead in the 33rd minute. They still managed two well crafted tries in the second half, which was just as well since Lanner maintained a spirited fightback during that period, scoring four tries of their own to add to their single first half penalty try awarded when Tics were deemed to have collapsed a rolling maul.
After two visits to Lanner the Torquay players knew that they would be in for an uncomfortable afternoon against a Cornish side which refuses to lie down. Travelling light with just fourteen players because of a typical bout of “won't travel – itis” the away side was reduced to thirteen for a short spell, whilst a right wing was treated off the pitch and then again , when a lock was yellow carded for a high tackle, just as it seemed Tics' full back Tom Drake was bound to score.
In such circumstances it would be easy to criticise the home players for going off the boil, but perhaps that would be too simplistic. Indeed, looking at it another way one needs to remember that currently Tics' are without three front row and three back row forwards – all regarded as First Team front line players and sharing various long term injuries. In addition last week's on field Captain Isaac Fahey, scorer of two tries at Withycombe, did not play, as he was starting a new job in the North Sea on the following Monday and also carrying a slight knock to his ankle from a week earlier.
On this understanding perhaps it is fairer to say that the Extras players, who have stepped in during the past few games have done a very adequate job and here the final outcome was indeed a win.
The first scrum told of things to come, as Lanner's eight managed to push Tics' back – something they would do for most of the match, except for the final quarter, when Jon Woodhead returned to steady things up.
He was involved early on with a short range charge, but was held up just short. However Lanner had strayed offside and a close in attacking lineout ensued, but Lanner held the ball carrier up over the line and then stole at the resulting scrum and kicked clear. Wing Ben Spears ran back that kick from his own 10 metre line to set up another attack, with the ball moved left to James Wood, who found Woodhead in support and this time his burst for the line was rewarded with a try after eleven minutes and a 5- 0 lead.
In the 22nd minute a midfield break by Josh Mackin, beating two men, created space out wide for Jonny Brown against the six backs defenders of Lanner and he ran in from the 22' to dot down, with Mawgan Penrice converting from the touchline for 12 – 0.
The next try followed Lanner coughing up ball on their 22' and Wood pounced to run through an unprepared defence to score under the posts and Penrice converted for 19 – 0.
Only four minutes elapsed until the next score by Spears, once more converted for a 26 – 0 lead in the 33rd minute, at which point Lanner's right wing needed brief off the field treatment – but he soon returned.
Then came the Lanner penalty try from a rare first half attack, with Woodhead sent to the bin as being the suspected perpetrator of pulling down the rolling maul. So it turned around at 26 – 7.
Ten minutes into the second half Tics' leak three penalties within a five minute spell as the pack struggled to match Lanner's set scrum go forward and the third of these led to a pushover try from 5 metres out under the posts, duly converted for 26 – 14.
Home centre Jon Berry then retired injured and his place was taken by the hugely experienced Alex Brown.
Torquay came straight back and Tom Drake was only yards out from scoring when a high tackle came in and the culprit, believed to be a Lanner lock, was yellow carded. Tics' took immediate advantage by using the wide channels after an attempted short range rolling maul had gone to ground.
Wood cross kicked to the wide right and although catcher Jonny Brown was marked he shipped the ball inside to Drake who finished off from 5 metres. 31 – 14.
Then slack play by Tics' at a lineout allowed Lanner to score a soft try through the middle, despite playing with thirteen men and the conversion made it 31 – 21. There were 20 minutes left and with some alarm bells starting to ring Woodhead was returned to the fray. Ash Sharp came off the bench to replace Carl Turner on the flank, with Turner moving to hooker.
Torquay then scored a well worked try as Alex Brown carried and passed to Mackin who finally put scrum half Gavin Blacoe over under a pile of bodies. Penrice converted from wide out for 38 – 21.
Tics discipline then took a knock as three more penalties to a rising number were conceded, the final one of which saw Jonny Brown carded yellow for backchat. Another scrum elected for by Lanner, but this time Tics' eight held the shove. Instead Lanner moved the ball from left to right and scored in the corner for 38 – 26, having created space via a loop move.
This led to Lanner becoming even more energised and a missed tackle in midfield allowed a Lanner try under the post and a conversion for 38 – 33, plus a second guaranteed bonus point. Shortly after a nervous home crowd was relieved to hear the final whistle, ending the match 38 – 33.
The game was very likely the last for the Brown Brothers, who for different reasons are likely to forego any further regular rugby. Both have given good service to Torquay Athletic.
Tics' cannot now overhaul Plystock Albion Oaks in fourth place, after the Plymouth based side won with a bonus point at home to Liskeard.
One certainty after the weekend is that Tics' will resume League matches against Paignton next season after the Cherries lost away to League leaders Sidmouth on Saturday, consigning them to relegation to Cornwall and Devon League.
On Sunday the Extras travelled to play Sidmouth Seconds in the Dave Butt Cup semi final. By the end of the week the Two's had been able to pick a starting XV fro 25 willing travellers. However over Friday and Saturday three players were sidelined with a sickness bug, another succumbed to recurrence of an injury and a fifth found himself stuck in transit from Southampton.
Such meant a furious few hours on the telephone for Manager Rob Harman, who was finally able to take a squad of 20, two short of the permitted 22 players. He was especially grateful to now virtually retired centre Andy Gormley, who broke it into a commitment in Exeter to travel down and play a half.
Overall our Seconds were too strong for the home side and ran out winners by 29 – 8, scoring two tries through Jon Woodhead, playing as an emergency No. 8 and Arron Graham. Harman made Sean Dallow man of the match for his five successful penalty kicks and two conversions.
The Team will now face Salcombe (winners over Ilfracombe on Saturday) at Crediton on Sunday 5th May with a 2.30 pm KO. NOTE The game is always played on a neutral ground.
The winners will be entitled to elect if they wish to be promoted to Devon Merit 1 Table.