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First XV - Match centre

Torquay Athletic
Sat 23 Feb 14:30 - South West Division - Tribute Cornwall/Devon Full time




This was the third attempt to get this fixture completed. The first visit on 8th December ended early following a tragic event on the touchline. The game had been re-scheduled for 2nd Feb. but snow and icy weather conditions in Cornwall prevented travel.

Unfortunately on this occasion Tics' were shorn in their starting lineup of five forwards and two backs (all those forwards carrying injuries from the tight home win a week earlier against Plymstock Albion Oaks). This was in addition to the long term absences of Coach Lewis Harben and Captain Jake Bury – both with medial knee ligament tears.

The game saw the First Team debut of Mitch Squibb, with front row specialist Josh Lydon moving to open side flanker and the versatile Ash Sharp occupying one of the centre spots. Tight head prop Nick Wright stepped up from the Extras for his first Chiefs appearance this season. Apparently Lanner were also not at full strength but what they did possess was a weightier pack. Tics' eight had been pushed about in the last away fixture at Plymouth Argaum, although there a more experienced side had found a way to win.

Here the Team started brightly, despite playing up the end to end slope of a pitch which is shorter than most by at least 15 metres, with a tiny in goal area. However the playing area is as wide as that at the Rec. The pitch was firm with a good covering of well cropped grass and the weather still, although cloudy, with a light drizzle starting some half an hour into the game.

Using some penetrative and pacy running from the backs Tics' scored two tries before the break to deservedly lead 10 – 14; wisely electing to use the wide channels to stretch the home defence whenever possible during that first forty minutes.

Very shortly after the break they added a third try (described below), again using the wide out spaces, when the home side had been reduced to fourteen players following a yellow card for foul play just on the cusp of half time.

At that stage and with a 10 – 19 lead and the slope in their favour the Tics' side were favourites to get a valuable away win, despite selection and positional difficulties - but it was not to be. There was no lack of endeavour, but although securing good field position on a number of occasions a rather inexperienced Torquay side could not find the required patterns of play to execute – especially at several attacking lineouts.

In the second half the forwards tended to want to fight fire with fire by taking on the home pack with a series of pick and go's – all thwarted one way or another. What would probably have been the better option was to trust to the backs, who had produced some strong runs in the first period and who had troubled the home defence.

By contrast, after unsuccessfully attempting to use their own backline to puncture the Tics' defence early on Lanner then realised that their best chance of a come back was to use narrow based forward power, keeping the ball tight and indeed all of their three tries came from this source and were scored by forwards.

Lanner persisted at initial kick off time and on any first half re-starts by kicking the ball long left. However on each occasion right wing Jonny Brown was able to catch securely with time to return the kick with interest.

So it was in the first minute that Torquay were able to put pressure on the home side in their own half with quick line speed at a Lanner lineout. Such enabled scrum half Gavin Blacoe to charge down an attempted clearance kick, then to react quickly to gather and run through from the 22', outpacing the wrong footed home defence. Mawgan Penrice converted for 0 – 7 in only the second minute.

At the first set scrum Tics' eight were pushed off the ball and a scrum penalty awarded to Lanner – duly kicked to reduce the arrears to 3 – 7 in the sixth minute.

Tics' then tried pace again with a well weighted run and chip ahead by Brown down the left, but a Lanner defender reached the ball first within the in goal area to touch down for a 22' drop out.

Tics' first penalty led to two separate five metre attacking lineouts and on both occasions the Referee then penalised Lanner for dragging down the catcher (first Tom Whitford and then James Davies). On the second occurrence the Lanner no. 8 was shown yellow.

Unfortunately the third lineout in this sequence saw a Tics' overthrow and the chance gone. However it was only a temporary lull in Tics' attacking intentions when the strong running Tom Drake and then Sharp ran a Lanner clearing kick back. On this occasion a Tics' put in scrum was stable enough to allow No. 8 Isaac Fahey a comfortable pick up at the base and he fed Ben Spears wide left. The winger used power and pace to beat two defenders and touch down. A Penrice conversion made it 3 – 14 in the 31st minute.

When Brown again returned the Lanner re-start kick the home side were penalised, but a Penrice shot at goal went just wide.

With just four minutes plus injury time to go to the break Lanner created a crucial score going through several pick and go phases after an attacking lineout before prop Dan Job crossed the line for 10 – 14.

When Tics' conceded a fifth penalty on half way there followed a frantic period of defending as Lanner again persisted with forward drives. However, only a metre short of the try line one of their props was pulled up for stamping and shown yellow; so Tics' were able to reach half time with a lead intact.

Isaac Fahey was off the field during this period, but he returned for the start of the second half, duly strapped up. Fortunately he showed no ill effects of a knock.

Then Brown ran back a Lanner kick upfield to set up quick ruck ball giving Penrice time to measure an excellent cross kick to the waiting Fahey who was hugging the right touchline. He secured the ball on the full, stepped inside the opposing winger and then threw an outrageous dummy to take the full back out of the equation. His try from the 22' made it 10 – 19.

That score remained until the 58th minute when Lanner were awarded a penalty for a Tics' high tackle Nick Prout kicked a long penalty for 13 – 19.

This galvanised the home side who then went ahead from a forwards lineout catch and drive close to the Tics' line with Mark Carlyon getting the touchdown and Prout converting for a 20 – 19 lead.

Lanner were further encouraged when a Torquay penalty kick from deep continued to bounce down the slope, finally going dead. Therefore scrum back to Lanner in an attacking position and using their power at the set piece lock Ollie Reynolds was able to run in from short range. Surprisingly Prout missed an easy conversion, meaning that at least Tics' still had a losing bonus point.

However the visitors wanted more and spent most on the final seven minutes remaining on the attack. Two five metre attacking lineouts to Tics' came and went with Lanner resisting the rolling maul. Then, as Tics retained possession an accidental offside amongst the Torquay forwards, gave a final scrum to Lanner, who were able to secure and kick dead for the final whistle.

Next up for Torquay in the League is South Molton (away) on 2nd March. Travel by cars.

15 – Tom Drake, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – Luke Hedges, 12, - Ash Sharp, 11 – Ben Spears, 10 – Mawgan Penrice, 9 – Gavin Blacoe,
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Mitch Squibb, 3 – Nick Wright, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 – James Davies, 6 – Carl Turner, 7 – Josh Lydon, 8 – Isaac Fahey.

Replacements: Josh Castleton, Mike Cavanna and Joe Widdecombe

Paignton cried off a Second Team friendly at the Rec.. meaning that the only other game
was for the Colts in their Plate competition at Astley Park against Brixham Under 18's. Brixham prevailed for the third time in fixtures between the two this season by 27 – 7 with Jake Shinner getting Tics' consolation try.

Please note that the next home League game for the Firsts will be v Tavistock on 9th March, when the kick off time will have moved to 3.00 pm. That match is kindly sponsored by the Past Players Association with a buffet starting at 2.00 pm in the Presidents' Lounge.

Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.


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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Honiton 26 108
2. Bude 25 103
3. Penryn 24 103
4. Plymstock Albion Oaks 25 89
5. Torquay Athletic 24 79
6. Liskeard-Looe 26 65
7. South Molton 25 61

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