TORQUAY ATHLETIC 22 v PAIGNTON 8
MATCH REPORT – SATURDAY 3rd FEBRUARY 2018
This was a vital win for Torquay Athletic against their nearest rivals and enabled Tics' to trade places with Paignton in the League Table.
In the corresponding match at Queens Park Paignton had dominated at scrum time and enjoyed the lions's share of possession and territory. In snatching an 8 – 9 win in that fixture Torquay were indebted to an injury hit front row in lasting the pace, and cutting down on early indiscipline in the second half so as to starve Cherries of penalty kick opportunities..
Ultimately they had also seen out the match with a remarkable sequence of keep - ball driving play on the half way line, which denied Paignton the opportunity to launch last ditch attacks.
In this return fixture Torquay dominated possession and territory to a huge extent. Indeed, it was just over 30 minutes before Paignton actually entered the Torquay half with ball in hand.
With five changes in the backs' from that first encounter the Tics' Coaches decided on a conservative approach by largely playing ten man rugby and using the pick and go to put the visitors on the back foot.
The tactic worked, although playing with the fairly strong wind in the first period Torquay reached the turnaround only 5 – 3 ahead. Such was due largely to magnificent and obdurate defence at close quarters by the Cherries.
It is understood that at half time the Torquay Team talk was of “more of the same” and thanks to the discipline which the Team showed in following the game plan Paignton's brave resistance could not be sustained for the full 80 minutes and despite going against the wind in the second half Tics' steadily built attacking positions and patiently worked another three tries; so that all of their scores had come from the forwards.
A neutral Brixham Committtee man present made what is probably a most salient point at the end; which is that Tics' possessed a half back combination which had been shrewd and experienced enough to run the game to the chosen tactics.
With the wet weather continuing during much of the previous week and heavy rain persisting during hours of darkness and in the early morning the ground had looked unplayable shortly after 9.00 am. However, such coincided with a high spring tide and as that receded and the weather rather miraculously went against the forecast, with sunny periods and a drying wind, the pitch did what it very often does and “self mended” to leave a very sticky, in parts, but eminently playable surface.
Tics' kicked off towards the sea end and set about attacking with gusto. Paignton served notice at the first two scrums that this set piece remains one of their strengths; but the Torquay eight (although without the influential Calvin Bradley - struck down with a chest infection) gradually came to terms with this.
James Wood was given an early penalty chance but his kick hit an upright and bounced out. The same player then cross kicked to find touch 5 metres out. Paignton won their lineout, but aggressive Torquay spoiling made it difficult for them to exit and after Alex Jeffery had run the ball back Cherries conceded again in front of their posts (offside). Wood was again uncharacteristically off beam with his shot at goal.
In the tenth minute Tics' got over the try line but were adjudged held up. As the pressure on Paignton's defence mounted they conceded another penalty, which Wood kicked to 5 metres out. Paignton snuffed out the danger at Tics' lineout but soon infringed again and Wood set up another short range attacking lineout, as Cherries lost tight head Mark Palk to a leg injury.
From the lineout backs' joined the drive and Andy Gormley got over the try line, but London Referee Mr. Donal Treacy was unable to confirm a valid touchdown and decided on “held up” once more.
Further chances to Tics' came with a 5 metre scrum and a 5 metre attacking lineout, but they were pinged; first for an early engage and then for a not straight throw. Nevertheless the home side maintained the pressure and finally the pack got Liam Murray over the line in the 32nd minute. 5 – 0.
Lloyd Penhalagan was then yellow carded for a no arms tackle allowing Paignton a rare visit to the cricket square end and with 7 minutes remaining Torquay's backs went offside. Mike Sandercock sent over a 30 metre penalty from in front of the posts for 5 – 3.
Play then reverted to a familiar pattern with Tics' enjoying possession inside the visitors 22', but not being able to add to their score before half time.
Straight after the re-start Paignton were twice penalised; first for foul play and then for a scrum offence. Murray had retired with a bang to the face, with Jon Woodhead reverting to the front row and James Norrish coming in at lock..
When Tics' threatened with another close in lineout Paignton jumpers read the throw and stole the ball for the first time. Isaac Fahey came on for Shane Wakeham, who had started despite suffering from a heavy cold.
After a long injury stoppage Tics' broke Paignton's admirable resistance, mauling a lineout take 8 metres out on the left, with Norrish getting the touch down. Wood drove his conversion strongly against the wind to add the “extras” and it was 12 – 3.
Paignton then received a yellow card for stopping a short tap penalty. Back came the driving play tactic from Torquay and after Cherries had resisted yet another lineout take and maul the ball was switched wide to the right. Paignton were stretched but managed to drive Tony McCarthy into touch, just short. From the resulting lineout it was Tics' turn to steal the ball and after a re-set a well controlled maul enabled Isaac Fahey to emerge from a pile of bodies with a valid touchdown. It was 17 -3 entering the final quarter.
Then, playing catch up, Paignton enjoyed their best spell of attacking possession and as they had done in the Queens Park encounter scored their sole try of the match wide out, with left wing Henry Hoare speeding in to dive over in the corner. 17 – 8 with 18 minutes remaining.
Paignton then went offside in front of their own posts, but Wood eschewed the kick at goal and once again elected to put Tics' in an attacking lineout position, hopeful of securing the bonus point try. However two attacking Tics' lineouts later Paignton managed turn over ball and cleared.
As play switched to the opposite flank differences of opinion between a host of players led to a long stoppage in play and Mr. Treacy calmed things down by showing yellow to one player from each side.
Paignton then went down to thirteen man with another yelllow shown for a tip tackle. Wood again kicked the penalty to touch down the right and with only a few minutes remaining Torquay got the four try bonus point score with more driving play and hooker Carl Turner emerging with the ball. 22 – 8.
Paigtnon refused to lie down, given that a converted try would bring a losing bonus point, but although the game finished with the visitors attacking inside Tics' 22' they could not add to their score; so it remained 22 – 8.
This had been a compelling and full blooded rugby match to keep a large and vocal crowd on its feet. Tics' win was well deserved on the day but it is earnestly hoped that both Clubs are able to pull away from the drop zone to ensure that financially valuable derbies like this can continue for another season.
Torquay now move on a week to 10th February when St. Austell return to re-play the earlier match, which was abandoned when Tics' led 21 – 15. Kick off at the Rec. is again 2.30 pm, which will allow spectators to retire after to the warmth of the Clubhouse and the spectacle of England v Wales, which has a late kick off.
The Colts won a Merit Table match versus Paignton by 16 – 15 at TVN; whilst the Extras away DMT2 match at South Molton had been called off after pitch inspections in the morning. This had been the second time in two weeks that the Seconds had been denied action, with Sidmouth unable to raise a side to travel to the Bay a week earlier.
15 – Josh Mackin, 14 – Tony McCarthy, 13 – Ben Spear, 12 – Andy Gormley, 11 – Arron Graham, 10 – James Wood, 9 – Alex Jeffery,
1 – Liam Murray, 2 – Bertie Turner, 3 – Lloyd Penhalagan, 4 – Jon Woodhead (Captain), 5 – Tom Whitford, 6 – Shane Wakeham, 7 – Jacob Loewy, 8 – Lewis Harben,
Replacements: Isaac Fahey, James Norrish and Chris Robson-Close.