MATCH R REPORT – SATURDAY 2nd DECEMBER 2017
BURNHAM-ON-SEA 30 v TORQUAY ATHLETIC 19
Although Torquay Athletic retained eighth position in the League (out of fourteen Teams) this loss at still bottom side Burnham means that the Tic's are now only five points clear of the two relegation places and it was perhaps fortunate for them that four of the sides below them also lost on this Saturday.
Once again taking a very patched up side following further injuries sustained in recent weeks Torquay fielded no out and out backs replacement and started with prop Calvin Bradley playing at inside centre – needs must!
Played in dry weather on a level and very well kept pitch Tics' first half efforts were blighted by the same shortcomings displayed a week earlier in the home loss to Truro. This was in the set piece. During the first thirty minutes Burnham's pack dominated the set scrum and Torquay's lineout was again prone to faltering.
It took fifteen minutes before Tic's were able to penetrate the opposition half with ball in hand. During this period home No. 10 Tim Piper slotted a routine penalty from in front of the posts when the visitors were adjudged offside. Burnham should really have profited further but were being held back by poor handling skills, with numerous knock-ons. Unfortunately at this stage Torquay could not benefit because being of the back foot in the resultant scrums. However matters would change as the match progressed .
Burnham's existing dominance in this particular area was finally rewarded when their eight pushed Torquay off the ball on half way. Very much on the front foot their Captain and No. 8 Ross McKelchan picked up and set off, before releasing fellow back rower Finn Duffus to score under the posts. Piper added the extras to register a 10 – 0 lead in the 27th minute.
Immediately Shane Wakeham came off the bench for Torquay, but rather than occupy his normal open side flanker slot he went to inside centre with Bradley reverting to hooker, consequent upon an injury to Josh Castleton. Bradley's extra weight stabilised the scrum, notably upon the opposition put in.
Tics' most promising attack so far ended with a converted try on the half hour. Moving the ball to the right space was created for full back Tom Drake in the wide channel. He almost scored but off secure second phase the ball was moved a short way infield to Joel Ashworth. Despite his slight frame the speed and determination of his incursion took him over the line despite the attention of two would be tacklers. 10 – 7.
Burnham returned to the Torquay half, but Tics' defence was generally sound until the backs were again deemed to have crossed the offside line in front of their own posts, with Piper slotting the penalty to give his side a 13 – 7 half time advantage. In the meantime Tic's prop Harry Snell had retired with a wrist injury.
On Burnham's first attack upon the resumption they almost scored but right wing Connor Howard dropped the ball with the line at his mercy. Despite accompanying frustrated groans from home supporters the Referee had not spotted the infringement and whilst Torquay players paused the ball was moved very swiftly to the opposite wing where Lee Vaughan had a virtual walk in. Piper kept up what would be a one hundred per cent kicking success to move the score to 20 – 7.
By now Torquay's set piece was functioning much better, but in trying to exit their own 22' by running the ball instead of kicking downfield a forward pass gave Burnham a scrum 20 metres out and from it the home Team took advantage of being able to split the back line. Lee Vaughan came off his wing and carrying the ball in both hands evaded defenders to score a little too easily. With Piper's conversion it was now 27 – 7 in the 52nd minute and Burnham appeared to be home and dry.
Nevertheless Torquay did find a positive response and put pressure on their opponents after a good break through the middle by Bevon Armitage. Burnham were penalised 10 metres out in front of their own posts and with renewed confidence in winning their own put in Torquay elected to scrum. Jeffery moved right at the base and passed to Ashworth, who trusted in his own ability to make the try line despite other backs' in support on an overlap. He converted his own score again for 27 – 14 in the 55th minute.
Torquay were enjoying their best spell of the match and strong driving play by the forwards took the ball 20 metres upfield and again Burnham infringed under pressure and had a replacement forward sent to the sin bin.
However Burnham were next to add to their score when Torquay were penalised at a scrum and Piper elected to kick for goal for 30 – 14.
In the closing stages Jeffery went blind from a Tic's scrum and made ground to 10 metres from the try line. Further carries by Armitage and then Bradley kept up the momentum and a 5 metre scrum put in to Torquay ensued.. Again going blind Tom Whitford managed to force his way over in the corner for 30 – 19, but Torquay had run out of time to make further inroads into reducing the deficit.
Final score 30 – 19.
15 - Tom Drake, 14 – Tony Brierley, 13 – Bevon Armitage, 12 – Calvin Bradley, 11 – Ben Spear, 10 – Joel Ashworth, 9 – Alex Jeffery
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Josh Castleton, 3 – Harry Snell, 4 – Tom Whitford, 5 – Dan Woods, 6 – Isaac Fahey, 7 – Jacob Loewy, 8 – Chris Smith.
Replacements: Dan King, Lloyd Penhalagan and Shane Wakeham (all played).
With only one fixture to go to the halfway stage of the League season the bottom half of the Table (8th to 14th, inclusive) has a cluttered look with only five points separating Tics' in eigth from Burnham at the bottom. Next up are Chard at home on 9th December KO 2.30 pm. Despite their relative geographical proximity it is believed that this is the first time Torquay will have played the Somerset side in a competitive fixture.
It goes without saying that Tics' have to start winning once more, having slipped back by losing their last four League matches. However at the time of compiling this report there is encouraging news on the injury and availability front, which should hopefully give the Selectors many more options to pick a better balanced side for this Chard fixture.
The Extras travelled to Honiton II's in DMT2 short handed due to First Team calls and unavailability. Honiton sportingly lent two, so that a fourteen a side match could be played.
The Extras were 12 – 5 up at the half way point, when Honiton introduced some quality replacements and a complete second half change around saw the Lacemen run out winners by 41 – 17. The Colts had no scheduled game.