A MAKESHIFT Plymouth Argaum team dug deep to claim a hard-earned 12-7 Cornwall/Devon League victory over city rivals Tamar Saracens on a muddy Parkway pitch on Saturday.
The match should have been played five weeks ago but was postponed due to a refereeing mix-up.
Due to injuries, work commitments and a club trip to Twickenham, Argaum were struggling to put out a side to face Saracens, but they managed to do it and get a win.
However, they had to withstand some tough moments against a Tamar Saracens side desperate for points.
Saracens had the better of the opening 30 minutes but did not take their chances and found themselves 12-0 down at the break, with Calum Mills and Ellery Jones scoring tries for the visitors and Ali Murray adding a conversion.
But with 10 minutes to go, Saracens pulled to within a score with a try by Dylan Cooper, which Tom Rigby converted, to give themselves hope of claiming only their second win in the Cornwall/Devon League.
However, Argaum did well to see out of the game and claim back-to-back victories for the first time this season, having also beaten Topsham the previous Saturday.
Coach Gordon ‘Taff’ Howells was delighted to get the four points with so many players unavailable.
“Most of our lads were expecting a week off and I had 30 players unavailable – 18 were up at Twickenham watching the rugby,” said Howells.
“It was quite hard as it was so muddy.”
Although he felt conditions prevented his team playing the type of rugby they wanted to, Howells was pleased with the way his team defended.
“A couple of times there were missed tackles, but it can’t really be helped in those conditions, however, the majority of times we chopped them down and we got the win at the end of the day.”
He added: “We have had injuries but I can’t moan because I’ve got people who can come in and do a job in that position.
“Hopefully, next week we can make it three wins in a row.
“We’ve got Honiton next and, hopefully, we will have people back and be stronger.”
After nearly scoring from kick-off, Argaum then found themselves having to defend for the next half-an-hour.
However, on 35 minutes they got a penalty. Although Murray missed the kick at goal, Argaum kept the pressure on from the drop-out and charged down a Saracens attempted clearing kick and Mills scored the game’s opening try.
And before half-time they added a second with Jones finding a gap following forward pressing in the 22.
The game struggled to come to life, with conditions and the referee not helping the flow of the match.
Sarries thought they had scored in the 68th minute but wasn’t given. However, they kept the pressure on and three minutes later Cooper went over in the left corner.
Five minutes later, with the pitch nearly in darkness due to a late start, the home side charged down an Argaum clearing kick but it bounced dead before anyone could ground it.
Saracens coach Stuart Busfield was frustrated his team had to make do with only a losing bonus point.
“I think the guys are looking at the bonus point as a positive out of the game,” said Busfield. “But I see it as a negative because if you are close enough to get a bonus point you are close enough to win.
“But that one point might be the difference at the end of the year as the league is looking that close.”
He added: “I thought we started really strongly in the first 15-20 minutes, but we then allowed them to come into the game and play with some shape and some pattern.
“I was really pleased with our defence – we held out really well.
“I thought we had a definite try that was disallowed and their first try was a charge-down, which was mainly down to the conditions. They got a second try before we got one in the second half.
“I thought when we scored that we had our tails up and had space outside, but the pitch and conditions did not help.
“There’s lot for us to work on. The guys just need to start believing in themselves.
“Chris Cox put it beautifully after the game when he said, ‘this is a good team with quality players, but for us to do anything we have to train together’.”
Saracens face a tough test next week when they host leaders Falmouth. However, Busfield, feels Sarries will have to find a new pitch to play on after the state of the Parkway field following Saturday’s game with Argaum.
“Looking at the pitch we need to start looking for another one now because I can’t see that been playable next week,” he said.
CORNWALL SENIOR CUP
SALTASH missed out on a place in the semi-finals of the Cornwall Senior Cup after letting a 23-12 half-time lead slip at home to higher league side Wadebridge Camels.
Western Counties West outfit Wadebridge snatched a 32-26 victory thanks to a converted try two minutes from time.
Saltash had been in command for most of the game on a bleak afternoon at Moorlands Lane.
The Ashes went 6-0 up with two penalties from fly-half Harrison Reburn.
But Wadebridge responded and went 12-6 in front with two tries by Ben Hawken and a James Grubb conversion.
However, Saltash took command with a try by the prolific Will Morton, which Max Venables converted.
And the home side went 23-12 up before the break with Ryan Cruickshanks producing a great dummy to score. Venables converted that and also added a penalty.
After the interval, Wadebridge closed the gap to just one point, with a Grubb penalty and a converted try by Matt Ballard.
Venables and Grubb exchanged penalties, which meant Saltash lead 26-25 going into the final few minutes, but Ballard sealed a semi-final spot for his team with his second try.
OPMs made it two wins out of two with a 78-0 home success over Plympton Victoria in Devon Two.
The big victory followed on from their 59-7 win over DHSOB in their opening league fixture last weekend.
They proudly sit as the early divisional leaders, although Dartmouth also have a 100 per cent record in second.
Chris Harmer and Matt Thompson both scored hat-tricks for the Old Boys on Saturday, with their other touch-downs coming from fly-half and man-of-the-match Huw Moorcraft, Lewis Harmer, Matt Naylor, Chris Lewis and the returning Phil Roberts. Gavin Rae enjoyed a good day with the boot, kicking 23 points.
Plym Vic battled hard, particularly up front, but OPMs did the damage out wide.
Captain Henry Matthews said: “We had a good half-an-hour. We started a bit slower this week. We weren’t quite as strong as our last game, but we put on 78 points so we are happy with that.
“We’re really pleased with the start we made to the season, but we’ve got a massive game next week against Old Techs. We’re really looking forward to that.
“We are on a bit of a high at the minute. We just have to try and keep it rolling.”
Old Techs are up to third in the table after claiming their first league win of the season with a 31-24 victory away at DHSOB.
Techs scored five tries, but DHSOB, who had key players back this week, were unhappy with a number of decisions, which they felt cost them at least a draw.
“The players were very frustrated by the penalty count,” said DHSOB director of rugby Mike Freeman.
“There were some very baffling decisions. With the last move of the game we broke through and were going to score, but the referee stopped play because there was an Old Techs player injured on the halfway line.”
He added: “All their tries came from penalties – two from line-outs, two penalty tries and one from a five-metre scrum following a penalty. It was very disappointing.”
DHSOB, though, were much better than they were against OPMs the previous week.
They went 7-0 up with a try by Atu Kovula, which Shawn Mucunabitu converted. Old Techs responded with two tries, before Sikeli Bainivalu went over for second for DHSOB to level the game at half-time.
Old Techs scored two more tries after the interval to go 24-12 up. Their lead could have been greater had they kicked a couple more penalties.
But DHSOB refused to give up and levelled the match again with Kovula and Bainivalu crossing again.
Old Techs, though, crucially scored a fifth try to go 31-24 up, which was how the game finished.
DHSOB did pick up two bonus points but that was little consolation to them.
Next week they will travel to St Columba & Torpoint, who are still waiting for their first win in Devon Two following their relegation last season.
Saints went down 43-5 at promotion-hopefuls Dartmouth. They paid for a slow start and were trailing 31-0 at half-time.
But the young Saints side will take encouragement for their second half display.
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