Double Delight for Chiefs in Dartmoor Derby
By Richard Belli
Argaum complete the double over local rivals in emphatic style.
Nothing illustrates the fluctuating fortunes of sport more than the modern history of these two clubs. When Tavistock was reformed in 1970 they were initially a fixture for Argaum's 3rd XV The Drifters, but by the mid 1980's they were regular opposition for the Chiefs. With the advent of leagues Argaum's fortunes were on the wane whilst in contrast Tavistock pushed up the ladder to become an established Western Counties/Cornwall & Devon side. This season therefore has seen the first league fixtures between these two sides for well over 20 years, so despite the proximity of the two clubs victories over Tavistock (especially at Sandy Park) are something of a rarity.
Tavi have surprisingly struggled at the wrong end of the table this season whilst Argaum, came into the game on the back of 3 (albeit pre-Christmas) league wins. The visitors were certainly favourites but there was much work to do to overcome spirited opposition. Spurred on by a decent crowd the hosts weathered considerable early pressure to restrict Argaum to one drop goal attempt. Exchanges were fairly even for a while but it was clear that Argaum had the upper hand in the scrum which was going to be a telling factor on very heavy going. The ground wasn't conducive to place kicking and a Tom Richards penalty attempt went wide after 20 minutes. It wasn't until the half hour mark that Argaum gained control of the game.
Firstly, Tavistock's fly half, who had cleverly nursed his forwards with probing kicks behind Argaum's back 3 went off with an ankle injury. Then a driving maul from Argaum resulted in a penalty chance which Richards slotted; from then on Argaum didn't look back. The ring rustiness, which Argaum's coach warned of before the game, was perhaps evident as despite some good passages of play it was the final pass which didn't go to hand so a couple of decent chances went astray. Then from a series of scrums in which Argaum had total control, the referee was eventually left with no option but to award a penalty try and with Richards converting the Chiefs had a 10-0 interval lead.
Tavistock started the second period brightly and were awarded a scrum five after full back Jake Turfrey was adjudged to have taken the ball over his line. However Argaum's scrummaging strength made life very difficult for the Tavi scrum half, the ball was turned over and pressure relieved. It wasn't long before Argaum were attacking again and Jamie Burton was hauled down short of the line but the ball was again turned over. There followed a rather scrappy passage of play with some loose kicking and perhaps both sides guilty of trying to play too much rugby in the conditions.
Argaum tightened up their game and went back to basics. Another fine rolling maul was held up just before the line but scrum half Ellery Jones spotted Dan James motoring on the blind side and a simple pass enabled him to score in the corner. Shortly afterwards another turnover resulted in quick ball being spread wide for Mason Edwards to dot down, with Richards this time converting. With Argaum in a commanding 22-0 lead, matters were made worse for the home side when injuries resulted them in being reduced to 14 men. Commendably the Tavistock coach did not request uncontested scrums.
It can be hard to stay focussed when your opponents are in some disarray but Argaum stuck well to their task. In contrast to their opposition they had received no serious injuries and played their interchanges very well to keep fresh legs. The bonus point was secured when after a catch and drive lineout the ball was spread wide for Tom Worboys to grab his first score. Unfortunately the home side were further depleted when another injury saw them drop to 13. The visitors quite correctly showed respect to their opponents by continuing to play a structured game and following a 20 metre scrum drive, no.8 Mike Hunt dotted down.
Tavistock, with 2 former Argaum juniors in their ranks (Dan Cunningham and captain Andrew Schutkacker), never gave up and after a series of penalties launched a promising attack. The ball was eventually turned over and after a quick line out from Mike Hunt, fly half Tom Richards launched a cross kick which was gathered by Tom Worboys on the opposite wing to complete the scoring and leave the final score at 37 point to nil. Argaum had therefore completed a rare double over their Dartmoor rivals.