SALTASH’S hopes of securing their first Western Counties West win since October were cruelly ended by a late Sidmouth penalty at Moorlands Lane.
The relegation-threatened Ashes were beaten 11-10 by fellow strugglers Sidmouth, who had trailed 10-8 with five minutes to go.
The defeat leaves Saltash with a mountain to climb if they are to avoid an immediate return to the Cornwall/Devon League.
They are six points off safety, having played more games than most of their relegation rivals.
The win for Sidmouth has moved them nine points clear of second-from-bottom Saltash and into 10th spot.
Saltash opened the scoring with a penalty by Max Venables, but Sidmouth cancelled that one out before half-time and then went 8-3 up immediately after the break with the game’s first try.
But the home side hit back and took a 10-8 lead with a push over try by Steve Hillman, which Venables converted.
However, their hearts were broken five minutes from time when Sidmouth kicked a long-range penalty.
Saltash’s neighbours, Devonport Services, though, did do them a favour by beating third-from-bottom Crediton 26-10 at The Rectory.
Services had been disappointed to lose 29-0 last weekend in their replayed league game against Kingsbridge, but they bounced back to claim a fourth win in five matches that has lifted them up to seventh.
In their first match on grass since mid-December, Services took the lead when Rhys Williams caught a high ball and kicked forward himself and won the race to it to score under the posts to give Matt Anstis an easy conversion.
And it got better for Services when new signing from Launceston Eddie McGinley scored after a good run from his own half by Williams.
Crediton kicked a penalty to make it 12-3 before Callum Perkin was just denied a third try for Services in the 18th minute.
In the second half, Services did get the third try their threatened when Anstis went over. He also converted to make it 19-3.
The bonus point try for Devonport was scored by Perkin following a move started by Joe Daley and involving McGinley.
Crediton’s only try came four minutes from time when they scored with catch-and-drive move.
In the Cornwall/Devon League, Plymouth Argaum’s five match winning run was ended by leaders Bude, who triumphed 28-3 in north Cornwall.
However, Argaum did make the league leaders work hard for their bonus point win, particularly second half.
Argaum’s only points on the day came courtesy of a penalty by Tom Richards.
Plymstock Albion Oaks moved up to fourth in the division with a hard-earned 18-13 victory over 10th-placed Honiton at Horsham Fields.
Those two matches were the only ones to survive in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Tamar Saracens’ big match with leaders Wessex was one of the matches to be postponed in Devon One.
New Cross did move above Tamar Saracens and into third spot with a 14-3 win over Totnes in the only game to survive in that division. New Cross, though, have played three more matches than Sarries.
Totnes’ defeat was a boost to relegation-threatened OPMs, who trail them by two points in the league standings. Both sides have now played the same number of games.
In Devon Two, Old Techs’ game with Torrington at Weston Mill had to be abandoned due to an injury to a home player.
Meanwhile, DHSOB were not able to make a dent in their minus 13 point deficit, losing 21-10 to Salcombe at Stonehouse Creek.
The Old Boys looked like they might be heading for four valuable points on their vice-presidents and sponsors day. They led 10-3 with little more than 10 minutes to go, but conceded two tries and two penalties late on as Salcombe achieved the double over them.
Winless Plympton Victoria, who sit above DHSOB after the Old Boys’ 25 point deduction for registration errors, lost 82-0 away at promotion-chasing Ilfracombe.
Meanwhile, Ivybridge were left without a game in National League South West after Dings Crusaders refused to play after arriving at Cross-in-Hand due to the state of the pitches.
The match had been switched to Ivybridge’s second team field, but Dings did not feel that was playable either.
It leaves Ivybridge with a major backlog. They have only played 15 matches this season, with some teams in that division having played 19.