Launceston secure great win with epic comeback against Saltash
Billy Martin shows awesome power and control to taking hooking to another dimension and Josh Bakehouse becomes the beast of Polson to carry with real destructive force.
Saltash visited Polson on a wet Sunday with both teams struggling to field full teams. Launceston had many of their walking wounded supporting from the touchline after an attritional start to the season.
The opening skirmishes were fast and competitive with both sets of forwards putting everything into the breakdown. Alfie Hold made a fantastic turnover under great pressure to release the building momentum. However, Saltash looked more organised and understood their game plan. They used every opportunity to feed the hard-running centres and attack the outside channels. It was obviously too early on a Sunday morning for many of the All Blacks, or was it the party the night before?
Launceston did show glimpses of the structure that they were trying to impose and put together a precise demonstration of the forwards playing off 9 and 10 to go the length of the field with real control. A score looked on the cards but Sam Jago was pinged for a double movement at the death.
Launceston then went off the boil again and conceded penalty after penalty to give control back to Saltash. The visitors didn’t need a second opportunity and imposed themselves with a good kicking game to stay in the Launceston half. An accurate grubber through caught the backs napping and they pounced to score on the left. 0-5
Saltash now had the upper hand and the Launceston line-speed was slow and they failed to close them down out wide. Good recycling allowed them to score their second under the posts with the Launceston boys resigned watching with no real answer. 0-12
Soon after, Saltash score their third as they applied more pressure through the wide channel and outstripped the defence to go in from long range. 0-19
Launceston were staring down the barrel and it was only midway through the first half. Strong words from Ollie Tomkies behind the posts attempted to rouse the boys from their lethargy. Better decision making, more intensity and better ball retention. Just better everything.
‘The chat’ seemed to have the desired effect with Billy Martin (captains man of the match) carrying well and taking several strikes against the head. Jack Goodman, and Kieran Bainbridge were starting to build a head of steam and the front row club of Kane Clements, Jake Glover and Josh Bakehouse (Coaches man of the match) started to get into good positions to work as pods and generate some concerted pressure and attacking shape.
Good retention allowed them to penetrate deep into the Saltash half and drive over on the left with Sam Jago taking the try. 5-19
That was soon followed by more pressure from the All Blacks with Tom Lowe pulling the strings. Excellent work up the middle released the backs on the right with George Mill feeding Jonny Ward who cut back inside and sliced through the defence for a great score 10-19 Half Time
The boys just needed to do the simple things well and retain the ball. Billy Martin and Freddie Ward were fantastic at the breakdown pinching balls and making a real mess of the opposition.
The second half started with Launceston on top. The teams were reduced to 14 a-side and there was more space around the park. The Launceston forwards did an incredible job of sucking in the defence but then unfortunately failed to release it at the right time for the backs to use the width. Josh Brown was as industrious as ever making some hard yards and creating panic in the defence. After good pressure and disarray in the Saltash ranks, Tom Lowe broke several tackles and sliced through to score under the posts. 17-19
Launceston then had all the possession and were camped in the Saltash half. Several scoring opportunities were missed with Josh brown being forced out just short in the left corner, Adam Howgill dropped the ball over the line after a strong driving maul and Jake Glover just came up short after a lovely dummy. It had all the supporters on their toes enjoying the grandstand finish.
With the clock ticking down it was left to Sam Jago to break blind from an attacking scrum to secure the winning score. 24-19 Full time
A great game from both teams in difficult conditions.