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First XV - Match centre

Torquay Athletic
Sat 16 Sep 15:00 - South West Division - Tribute Western Counties West Full time



Torquay Athletic were beaten for the first time this season; whilst Falmouth Eagles broke their duck in WCW by winning at the third attempt, since being promoted as Champions of Cornwall & Devon League. In that successful last season they won all but two matches and scored over a 1,000 match points at an average of just under 40 per game.

It is probable that Torquay may play worse than in this fixture over the remainder of the season and still manage to win, but overall there can be no quibbles with the result.

The habit of losing League matches in the further off parts of Cornwall remains and the sequence of League results against Duchy opposition poses something of a mystery. Over the past three completed seasons Tics' have won thirteen home games against Cornish opposition and lost only one; whereas, away, the stats show four wins (two being against opposition subsequently relegated) against ten losses.

As sometimes can happen when long trips away are involved Torquay did not travel with a scratch side, although there were some changes from the Team that had strained well to overcome Devonport at home the week before.

Isaac Fahey and Jacob Loewy were both unavailable and the unlucky Joel Hempton had broken a bone in his hand against Services, whilst hooker Chris Robson-Close was also injured in that same match.

So, in the pack, the versatile Josh Castleton moved to hooker, with Lloyd Penhalagan restored to loose head prop. Richard Read returned at No. 7, with Tom Drake playing his first match of the season at scrum half. Ben Spear was promoted from the bench against Devonport to take one of the wing spots.

There was heavy rain throughout the warm-ups making the surface somewhat greasy, especially so on the Clubhouse side of the Ground. Fortunately it abated before the start, although it returned just before half time. There was no appreciable wind.

Two minutes in and home centre Ben Ackner was forced to retire after taking a knock when trying to tackle Jon Woodhead on a familiar charge. Shortly after a penalty to Falmouth for obstruction offered home No. 10 Justyn Irons a shot at the posts but it went wide.

With 10 minutes gone Falmouth had enjoyed most of the territory and possession, without penetrating into the visitors 22' as play was largely confined to the middle third of the pitch.

However they did then take the lead due to an unkind bounce of the ball from a Torquay perspective. Falmouth were already showing a desire to use what appeared to be a useful backline when their Captain, Irons cross kicked from right to left.

The unpredictability of a bouncing rugby ball came was shown as it landed on the full only a metre distance inside the touchline on Tics' 22.' Normally one would expect such a trajectory to take the ball continuing on its path and out of play, but here it landed on its point and bounced up low, and (if anything) took a backward path.

Left wing Seb Firth must have been as surprised as anyone as the ball nestled under his right armpit, but he deserved credit for holding on to it without breaking stride and then switched infield to touch down and give Irons an easier conversion, which made it 7 – 0.

From the re-start a show and go by full back Tom Edmonds took the Eagles back to Tics' 22' and they largely stayed in the Torquay half for the remainder of the first period. That Torquay did not concede again until just before half time had much to do with solid and committed defence and a 100% success rate at set scrums and lineouts, plus matching Falmouth in the loose.

After 35 minutes Richard Read retired and would not return. Liam Evett came off the bench into the second row with Tom Whitford moving to blindside flanker. Torquay had not actually penetrated the home 22' at all, making their defensive display all the more laudable. However just before half time, with the rain now coming down again, Falmouth used the full width of the pitch once more.

Despite a couple of juggles on the way across the backline and a final pass which right wing Matt Poole had to pick off his bootlaces he did so, despite the greasy ball, and dived over in the corner to make it 12 – 0.

Straight into the second half and full back James Wood made 60 metres through centrefield to put Torquay in the opposition 22' for the first time. Now it was the visitors turn to apply pressure for fully ten minutes. A couple of half chances to score came and went, but Tics' were not as clinical as was necessary to break down the home defence. Evidently Falmouth had worked all week on discipline, having been profligate with their penalty count a week earlier.

Such paid dividends with the Eagles conceding only five times during the eighty minutes. Instead Torquay were penalised and Irons took a quick, tap penalty to transfer play to the opposite end of the field. By contrast Tics' conceded three more penalties in short time, eventually giving Irons the chance to settle his side with a kick straight in front on Tics' 22' extending the lead to 15 – 0 in the 58th minute.

The rain intensified in the final quarter. Torquay had not given up, but despite some in cursive breaks by Jonny Brown and then Joel Ashworth were still not able to find the right pass at the right time to break through.

Falmouth left the door open by kicking the ball straight out from outside their 22' on two occasions, but Tics' continuity was affected late on as the set piece suddenly faltered,, with three lineouts and a scrum put-in being lost in quick succession.

Eventually Falmouth made a decisive breakout and a penalty conceded for offside by Torquay enabled Irons to add three more points to make the final score 18 – 0.


15 – James Wood, 14 – Arron Graham, 13 – Jonny Brown, 12 – Jack Barnes, 11 – Ben Spear, 10 – Joel Ashworth, 9 Tom Drake
1 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 2 – Josh Castleton, 3 – Calvin Bradley, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 Jon Woodhead (Captain), 6 – Shane Wakeham, 7 – Richard Read, 8 - Lewis Harben.

Replacements: Liam Evett, Dan King and Jon Hill (all played)

Next week the visitors to the Rec. are Wadebridge Camels, who have the same record as Tics', thus far with two wins and a loss. Kick off is 3.00 pm.

Meanwhile at the Rec. in DMT2 the Extras enjoyed a high scoring win over South Molton Seconds by 91 – 14. A number of “returnees” came along, including the vastly experienced Andy Knight, who scored three tries within the first 15 minutes and added a fourth later on. Tries also went to Matt Jackson (visiting from home in Exeter) and Dan Taylor. Other scorers included Ash Sharp.

Next week the Extras are away in DMT2 action again versus Bideford Thirds with a 3.00 pm KO in North Devon

During the week a number of additional players have turned up, giving encouragement to the possibility of being able to put out four Senior Teams on a Saturday, if, say, another half a dozen players can be found. Such would enable the Quins (Thirds) to offer some “social” rugby in friendlies. If there are any such players out there they are advised to come down to the Club on training nights (Tuesday or Thursday) or telephone Second Team Manager Rob Harman on 07540 876700.

Finally, the Colts played a friendly at TVN against a strong Ivybridge squad and were on the receiving end of a 50 plus point defeat. However the players have largely come together late on and will need time to gel under Coach Gary Willis. Game time was therefore valuable ahead of a trip next week to play Honiton Colts in League competition, following the cry-off by Bideford Colts on 2nd September.

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Team selection

Team selection has not been published for this fixture yet.

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
8. Truro 26 53
9. Paignton 26 51
10. Crediton 26 51
11. Tiverton 26 50
12. Falmouth 26 49
13. Torquay Athletic 26 47
14. Burnham-on-Sea 26 24

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