DEVONPORT Services began their preparations for the new Western Counties West season with a hard-earned 22-17 win over Plymouth Fiji Rugby at the Rectory on Saturday.
The Fiji side had the better of the first half but only led 7-3 at the interval thanks to a converted try by Joe Nat in the 34th minute.
All that Services could managed in the first 40 minutes was a Ben Harper penalty.
However, the home side upped their game after the change of ends and it took them just six minutes to go in front when forward Andy Pond dived over after Services had gone inside following a five-metre line-out.
The visitors, who were strong in the contact area, thought they had hit back straight away from a tap penalty, but the referee ruled they had been held up over the line and Services defended the five-metre scrum well.
And on 60 minutes, Devonport scored a second try through Callum Perkins on the left, which Tim Wheal converted. That made it 15-7.
Fiji, however, responded and closed the gap to three points when the powerful Lopeti Faha went over from a line-out move.
The South Sea Islanders had their tails up after that but the game was won after the visitors were turned over attacking and player-coach Jamie Shone ran 70 metres unopposed to score under the posts. He converted to make it 22-10.
The Fiji side, largely made up of servicemen in the region, kept going and winger Tule Seru crossed the whitewash on the right to leave them just five points behind. However, there was not time for them to add another try.
Plymouth Fiji, who pushed an Ivybridge XV hard two weeks ago, hope to enter league rugby in the near future and they would certainly do some damage in Devon Two if they did.
It was definitely a physical run out for Services, who open their league season with a home match against Wadebridge Camels on September 5.
Wadebridge, who finished fifth last season, look like they could be one of the teams to watch this year, if their performance against National Three South West side Ivybridge on Saturday was anything to go by.
Ivybridge took a squad of 31 players down to Cornwall and played three 30 minute matches against Wadebridge.
The Bridgers fielded their second string in the first match and were beaten 29-7 before gaining revenge in the second game when their first team won 24-7.
Ivybridge, who were missing a few key players like Tom Scoles and Jordan Anderton, then mixed up their squads for the third match and narrowly won 12-10.
“They won on the score overall, but we won two out of the three games,” said Ivybridge team manager Neil Thomson.
“It was a good run out and it was nice to take 31 players away.
“Wadebridge have got a good structure and they should go well this season.”
Ivybridge are now turning their attentions to Friday’s match at National Two South side Launceston.