MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 4th NOVEMBER 2017
TIVERTON 22 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 8
It is difficult to put a positive slant on this performance by Torquay Athletic, although that is to take nothing away from the home side. The two Teams took to the field on the end of contrasting results a week earlier.
Tiverton had suffered a heavy away defeat at high flying Kingsbridge, whilst Tics' had produced their best display of the season, coming back from 10 – 13 down at half time to win 38 – 13 against a well fancied St. Ives with a sparkling display of running rugby.
As such Torquay travelled with some optimism, mirrored by good sized travelling support; albeit it to a venue which has seldom been a happy hunting ground. Unfortunately, again the result was disappointing.
In summary Tics' conceded three tries due to inadequate first up tackling; whilst they themselves could not convert any scores from three separate gold plated chances of their own. In trying to remain positive it is true to say that at least they made those chances, with members of the naturally creative back line coming to life. Tivvy's win was based on solid set piece performances – they only lost one lineout all afternoon, whilst Tics' often struggled in this area of the game.
In dry, bright conditions on a pitch where the grass cover was quite long Tics' started, playing towards the Clubhouse. Shane Wakeham was missing from the back row due to injury and in the backs the side changed from the St. Ives win due the absence of the injured Alex Brown and wing Jack Barnes. Nonetheless their replacements were more than adequate in the guise of Andy Gormley on the wing, Lewis Harben returning to No. 8 and James Wood moving to inside centre.
Within a minute Torquay had conceded a soft try, allowing a weaving run from their 10 metre line by inside centre Henry Frankpitt to take him for a touchdown close to the posts. Surprisingly full back Jimmy Atkins missed the conversion.
This early score gave confidence to the home side and given a solid platform at the set piece they continued to use the back line whenever possible. In fact they should have scored again under the posts but Frankpitt knocked on a final pass with just a few metres to make to the try line.
Torquay were then deemed offside; the first of many such awards against them by Devon Referee Mr. Mark Simon. Tiivy kicked to within Tics' 22', but the away pack managed to steal the ball and a counter attack was mounted with Bevon Armitage putting Jonny Brown in the clear. However as the right wing ran to take on the full back he lost his footing.
A minute later Brown came off his wing to make a decisive break through the middle but although Tics' now had an overlap wide left the final pass failed to go to hand. After 19 minutes No. 6 Isaac Fahey limped off, to be replaced by Joel Hempton.
A Wood penalty from hand put Tics' 17 metres out on the right for an attacking lineout. A front ball throw was taken and a drive quickly set up making rapid progress to within two metres of the try line.
Here Tivvy were penalised for collapsing the maul. As it was still moving forward with momentum a try had seemed inevitable, but only a penalty instead of a penalty try was awarded. Unsurprisingly Tics' reprised the attacking lineout option and scored off fourth phase with Captain Jon Woodhead getting the touchdown. Wood's conversion attempt from close to the touchline was not successful and so scores were tied at 5 – 5.
Then an Alex Jeffery break and a kick ahead finding touch on Tivvy's 5 metre line put Tics' back on the attack, during what was probably their best spell of the game as a whole. A charge down of a clearing kick by Josh Castleton kept up the pressure and then from a scrum five to Tics' Harben picked up at the base and charged infield “around the corner.” However a try scoring pass to the onrushing Wood was not sympathetic enough and was knocked on just three metres from the try line, with the defence breached. another chance had come and gone and, as it turned out, Tics' would only create one more clear cut opportunity to cross the line in the dying minutes of the match.
Next, Jeffery was somewhat unluckily pinged for coming around a scrum to thwart his opposite number, when the ball appeared to be in play and beyond the back row's feet. Atkins stepped up to restore the lead with his kick so it was 8 – 5 after 33 minutes played. Half time came without any further scoring.
For the first ten minutes of the second period play was largely confined to the area between the two 10 metres lines until a Wood penalty for Tivvy offside took the visitors up close to the opposition 22.' However the lineout throw went long and Tivvy cleared their lines.
In the 50th minute Liam Murray came on with Calvin Bradley moving across to hooker. Then a penalty by Wood 35 metres out and to the left of the posts found the target to level the scores in the 56th minute.
After a Tivvy lineout just inside their own half Frankpitt again set off on a long willowy run and aided by a missed first up tackle he broke through to score under the posts, giving Atkins an easy conversion for 15 – 8 ; another solo try conceded from distance.
Tics' penalty count then reached ten, but although Tiverton profited by kicking to touch only 8 metres out the Torquay pack salvaged the situation by securing turnover ball.
With just ten minutes left to play Tics' sustained considerable pressure close to their try line and seemed to have kept the home side at bay until the ball was transferred quickly wide right, where winger Euean Howells beat the defence from the 22' to touch down in the corner. A good conversion by Atkins gave Tivvy the comfort of a 22 – 8 lead.
A precautionary retirement for Jacob Loewy following another committed and industrious performance saw Tics' have to make a number of positional changes.
In a last gasp effort to salvage a late try and possible losing bonus point Brown came off his wing once more and sped his way diagonally left and then straightened to within two metres of the try line, where he was tackled from behind. A rare threat from Torquay, but one which once again did not reap full dividend.
Tics' remain seventh in the League Table following this result, but now face two further away games in a row, as the fixture list has been unkind. First up are fourth placed Kingsbridge with a 2.30. pm KO at High House on 11th November.
A week later Torquay return to Tiverton for a Devon Intermediate Cup tie. It goes without saying that the Team will have to improve on this performance to get any return from those two matches.
15 – Joel Ashworth, 14 – Jonny Brown, 13 – Bevon Armitage, 12 – James Wood, 11 – Andy Gormley, 10 – Ed Barnes, 9 – Alex Jeffery,
1 – Calvin Bradley, 2 – Josh Castleton, 3 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 – Jon Woodhead (Captain), 6 – Isaac Fahey, 7 – Jacob Loewy, 8 – Lewis Harben.
Replacements: Liam Murray, Joel Hempton and Ben Spear (all played)
With Tiverton III's dropping out of DMT2 the Extras had no game. Meanwhile the Colts travelled to Devonport Services for a Merit Table match. The first quarter was evenly contested with open rugby predominating. After Callum Widdecombe had kicked a penalty the young Tics' turned round at 12 – 3 down.
However, within ten minutes of the re-start Services opened up a 33 – 3 lead with three converted tries, as Torquay fell off tackles. It did not get any better as the physically larger Devonport side wore down their opposition and Tics' lost their shape. Five more converted tries followed as Services ran out comfortable winners by 68 – 3.