Tribute Devon One

South Molton 15,

With this win Salcombe assured themselves of another season in Devon One, although the danger of relegation was largely hypothetical unless Torrington pulled off an unlikely win at second-placed New Cross.

Nevertheless, Salcombe launched themselves into the game and Molton as if their lives depended on it and playing down the slope and with the wind, they established a 17-3 lead at half-time.

This was a huge performance by the Crabs, who were without six regulars and with two players nursing injuries. They were fortunate to have the hugely talented Anthony Squire playing at 13 and his two tries were pivotal, but the ball had to be won to get it to him.

In the end he was one of 15 players who played their hearts out and put on a superb second-half defensive display to deny the home side. The quality of that defence showed, especially the three times when Salcombe had a man in the bin and they did not concede a point.

The game started with the Crabs exerting great pressure on the home side and consistently winning ball.

Employing two fast flankers in Richard Gregson and Darren Hopkins paid off as they were usually first to the breakdown with the more sturdily built Stuart Winzer, captaining the side in the absence of brother Lewis, quickly on hand to lend weight to the breakdown. James Palmer and Scott Lowry at second row lent pace and solidity to the pack and the indomitable Jez Foster at loose head, together with James Turner and Jim Winzer, rocked the formidable Molton front row.

Pressure was duly rewarded when Lee Clarke, having a virtuoso game at scrum-half, kicked a penalty to open the scoring. Chris Drew, who had only just passed a late fitness test on a back injury, was conducting himself sedately and so had handed the kicking duties to the youngster.

This was quickly followed by Squire's two tries, both resulting from good possession but both needing the centre's strength and balanced running to take him over. Clarke converted both and late in the half South Molton kicked a penalty to bring up the half-time score. From a Crabs standpoint the second half was all about defence as Molton now had the slope and the wind. Their strength lies in their pack, and this made Salcombe's task simpler as the attack was on a narrow front and Rupert Bevan, Oli Masters, Mark Parnowski and Squire all came into the defence, making crunching tackles.

Drafted in to fill the slot at full-back, veteran Mark Lidstone fielded the high ball well and was even seen to make a tackle or two as well as putting in several good runs out of defence. South Molton eventually got their two tries but could convert only one and so the game ended.

This week the Crabs play their rearranged league game at Plymstock, kick-off 3pm with the home side looking for a four-try bonus point win to take them into the play-off spot for promotion. Salcombe want to build on last week's win to carry them forward in buoyant mood for their tour to Bratislava and then on May 4 to play Buckfastleigh in the Barry Cup at Twomeads, kick-off 3pm.

Speaking of recent rumours that have been circulating regarding the demise of the club's youth section, club chairman John Sprague said:'The mini and junior section at Salcombe was very much in business and would continue to be so for many years to come. Inevitably there are ebbs and flows of youngsters and the demographics of Salcombe are not always helpful.

'As usual we will be mounting a recruitment campaign in time for the start of next season.

'We are hosting the Primary Schools' Tag Competition on May 2 and and are looking to that to reinforce the message that Salcombe is a great place for youngsters to learn rugby.

'We will always ensure that any child who comes to Salcombe gets game time which often larger clubs with bigger numbers cannot provide.

'Lastly I should mention that Salcombe is an attractive club for the parents to relax in while their children play rugby.

'If you are interested in your child playing at Salcombe, look out for the adverts in the Gazette during August and September or contact Martin Gautier, Chairman of Junior Rugby at Salcombe on 07757 954311 or Yvonne Billings at the Clubhouse on 01548 842639.'