OLD TECHS will play in the inaugural David Butt Memorial Trophy final after seeing off Devon One side Totnes away in extra-time on Saturday.
Techs triumphed 28-18 in their semi-final to set up a showpiece meeting with New Cross at Barnstaple’s ground next Sunday.
Yet, a victory for the Devon Two side did not look likely after the first 40 minutes, where they were second best to their higher league opponents and were lucky to only trial 8-0.
But they upped their performance after the interval and dominated the second period and should have won the match in normal time. With the game level at 15-15, Ryan Tunnicliffe missed a penalty in front of the posts in dying seconds.
However, his miss did not prove costly as a Bryan Milford try and a conversion and penalty by Billy Evans was enough for them to secure victory and a place in the final.
“We are obviously over the moon,” said Old Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“But we did make it hard for ourselves. I think we gave away 12 penalties in the first half.
“I said at half-time to be only 8-0 down was good and I did feel we could win the game.
“We said we just had to cut our penalty count down, start going through our phases and that it would come.
“To be fair, the players listened to us and that’s what we did. We kicked off for the second half and within five minutes we had scored.”
Bedford-Smith was convinced his team were going to win in the 79th minute when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts 22 metres out.
“I thought Ryan’s going to put this over and we are going to finish it, but he went and missed it,” said Bedford-Smith.
“But when we got them in for extra-time, I said to them ‘this is why we train twice a week. All the fitness we do on a Tuesday will count now’ – and I think it did.
“We did say whoever wanted it the most would win.”
He added: “I think it was a good semi-final. It would have been a good final for everyone to watch, but it was a bit too nail-biting for me.”
Techs were slow out of the blocks and found themselves on the back foot from kick-off.
In heavy rain, Totnes wasted two five-metre line-outs before home fly-half Scott Hingston kicked a penalty on 14 minutes to put his side in front after Techs’ Neil Williams had been sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.
Totnes increased their lead 10 minutes later with an unconverted try by Josh Green.
In the 34th minute both teams had players sin-binned after a brief flare up as Totnes attacked. The home team were reduced to 14 men, while Techs found themselves down to 13, with both Tony Luxton and Phil Ingleson being shown yellow.
But, while they were two players down, they actually had their first bit of sustained pressure and were rewarded with a penalty. However, they went for the corner but were not able to make it tell.
Techs, though, looked a different team after the break and took the game straight to their hosts.
The Plymouth side needed just four minutes of the half to reduce the gap to just one point thanks to a try in the left corner by winger Joel Dicken, which Evans converted.
And, with bright sunshine replacing the heavy rain, Techs went in front on 54 minutes when Evans kicked a penalty.
Totnes fly-half Hingston missed a penalty at the other end but the hosts kept the pressure on and eventually Richard Life ran in to score in the left corner after a poor clearing kick by Techs.
That put Totnes 15-10 up, but back came Techs. They wasted two good line-outs before winger Dicken showed good strength down the left winger to score his second try and level the match.
With time almost up, Techs were awarded a penalty for offside in front of the posts after Totnes made a total mess of trying to take a quick drop-out. It looked like a certain three points, but, much to everyone’s surprise, Tunnicliffe missed the kick, which took the match into extra-time.
Totnes missed a penalty in the first two minutes of the extra period before Tunnicliffe kicked one – harder than the one he missed at the end of normal time – to edge his side 18-15.
But, in a thrilling cup tie, back came Totnes with Hingston levelling the match again with another penalty.
However, five minutes from time, Milford showed great strength to force his way over from close range. Evans kicked the conversion before sealing the game in the last minute with a penalty.
DEVON SENIOR CUP
THERE was disappointment for Devonport Services in the Devon Senior Cup, with them losing 20-3 away at Western Counties West rivals Crediton.
Services had won five league matches on the bounce, including a 14-5 victory at Crediton four weeks ago, but missing key players they were unable to continue that form in the cup.
“We were just very flat,” said Services’ team manager Kieran Leach. “There was just no spark.
“We are disappointed because we wanted to go a bit further in the competition, but now we’ll just focus on playing Torquay at home next week in the league.”
In awful weather, an understrength Services took an early lead with a Matt Anstis penalty.
However, the game was lost in a five-minute spell just before half-time where Crediton scored two tries.
The home team lead 17-3 at the break and there was no way back for Devonport in the second half, despite dominating the closing stages.
Services were not helped by picking up a number of injuries. Elliott Lupson, who was making his first team debut, injured his thumb, Andy Pond also took a heavy knock, while another debutant, colt Peter Medford also had to come off early with injury.
Devonport also suffered a blow before the match by learning that prop Joe Daley faces between four and six weeks on the sidelines due to a fractured thumb.
As well as Lupson and Medford, Services also handed debuts to Morgan Gilbert and Max van Gorkum.
Cornwall/Devon League sides Tamar Saracens and Plymouth Argaum both pulled out of their Devon Senior Cup first round ties. Saracens were due to play South West One outfit Okehampton at Parkway, while Argaum were also due to entertain opposition two divisions higher in the form of Teignmouth.