Chiefs overcome Torri in 'Old-School' Battle
By Richard Belli
Argaum secure back-to-back win in Bickleigh Down quagmire.
'Old-School rugby in Old-School conditions' was the way referee Rob Guy described the afternoon's proceedings and he meant that as a compliment as both teams defied atrocious conditions in a highly competitive and absorbing encounter. Whilst the amateur sporting programme was decimated across the region, the famous Bickleigh Down slope ensured that this Cornwall & Devon match went ahead enabling Argaum to put together back-to-back league wins for the first time since September.
The Chiefs, bouyed by a win on the road at Tavistock last week, were never going to take the threat of Torrington lightly with the words of warning of coach Mark Sullivan fresh in their mind. Sullivan had to ring the changes in the 24 hours leading up to kick-off with late unavailability but it's testament to the growing strength of Argaum's squad that they were able to cope without fuss.
Argaum played down the slope in the first half and after some initial sparring Jake Turfrey slotted home a penalty from 25 metres out. Torri, who themselves picked up a win last week, gathered themselves and after a series of close-quarter drives went over in the corner for a try by Harper, alerting the home side that things weren't going to be easy. The Chiefs started to get some territory and went through a number of phases before putting Tom Warboys over, Turfrey's conversion just wide. As the match ebbed and flowed Torrington got themselves back up the field but a penalty shot went wide.
Handling became increasingly difficult and a number of promising moves broke down with mis-directed passes or spilt ball but when Karl Sullivan found Owen Belli on the wing he exchanged passes with Thomas Bradshaw to go over on left hand wing. With no extras added The Chiefs lead Torrington by 13 points to 5.
Skipper John Ireland urged more from his team in the half time huddle and they certainly responded. The Argaum pack, whose set scrum was in control throughout turned up the heat on the visitors which negated any disadvantage of playing up the slope. Half backs Glanfield and Turfrey capitalised on the good platform to nurse their forwards up the pitch. After a series of scrums near Torrington's line, the visitors appeared to whether the storm but after a turnover Karl Sullivan was able to dart in under the posts, Turfrey converting.
On the hour mark Argaum put together their best passage of play when after a counter-attack, they kept their patience and ran through the phases for prop Adam Fitzpatrick to dot down in the corner and secure the bonus point. Turfey knocked over the difficult conversion from the touchline and all seemed set for the Chiefs to enjoy the last quarter. However Torrington belied their position at the foot of the table and finished strongly. The Chiefs defended well to snuff out a number of attacks but Harper was not to be denied and eventually went over for his second try, Hooch adding the extras.
Although the rain had eased off the pitch was by this time a quagmire. Both sides continued to give their all but there was no further scoring chances and Argaum ran out winners by 27 point to 12. Torrington, as anticipated, proved that they were no pushovers and they might well upset a few teams before the season is out. The Chiefs will be pleased by a good overall team performance whilst knowing that there is perhaps more to come from this team in terms of converting chances. They will be particularly pleased that the influential Dan James has now had a full 80 minutes under his belt after only returning from injury last week and there were a number of good performances within a pack that will come into its own in these conditions. Argaum move up a place in the table with Pirates not playing and two wins on the bounce is certainly a good way to prepare for a visit next week to high-flyers Wellington.