RUGBY PREVIEWS: Saltash look to move another step closer to Twickenham in RFU Senior Vase

img_7292 Saltash rugby

SALTASH will be hoping to move another step closer to Twickenham on Saturday when they entertain unbeaten Somerset Premier League side Winscombe at Keyham in the South West Counties Senior Vase final (2pm).

A win would leave the Ashes, who currently sit second in the Cornwall/Devon League, just two games away from a trip to English rugby’s HQ.

However, before they can even start thinking about Twickenham they have to overcome the challenge of Winscombe.

The Mendip Hills outfit have won all 19 of their league games so far and on Tuesday night reached the final of the Bristol Combination Vase by overcoming Gloucestershire Premier side North Bristol.

They also beat another Gloucestershire Premier team, Chipping Sodbury, 30-19 away in the last round of the RFU Senior Vase.

“They must have a bit about them,” said Saltash coach Richard Thompson. “It should be a good challenge.

“It’s quite nice playing somebody you know nothing about. Normally most sides you know a little bit about, but we don’t know much about them at all.”

The Ashes, who are unbeaten since January 7, are hoping for a good crowd at Keyham.

The cup tie has been moved from their Moorlands Lane ground to the Royal Navy’s artificial surface in Plymouth due to doubts over their own pitch.

Saltash played their last round match there against Withycombe and it proved a successful venue.

If they were to win they would be at home again in the South West Divisional final, which is the national quarter-final stage of the RFU Senior Vase, against either Tadley or Swindon College Old Boys.

It is cup weekend elsewhere, with a number local teams in Lockie Cup action.

Ivybridge should also have been in action in the Devon Senior Cup, but their quarter-final opponents Tiverton have pulled out of Saturday’s match, meaning the South Hams side will automatically progress through to the semi-finals where they will travel to Brixham.

OPMs are hoping they can put last week’s league disappointment behind them when they travel to Tavistock IIs in the Lockie Cup.

The Old Boys, whose promotion hopes suffered a blow last Saturday with defeat at Buckfastleigh, know Cornwall/Devon outfit Tavistock are likely to be strong. However, they believe that will be a good thing ahead of their must-win Devon Two match with Dartmouth next week.

“We are going to take this game seriously and try and build for next week,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews.

“We have played Tavvy a lot in the past – we were only up with them two seasons ago – so we know what they are about.

“We need a run out before Dartmouth and the stronger they (Tavistock) are the better.”

DHSOB are also in Lockie Cup action. They host the Peninsula Medical School at Stonehouse Creek.

They are expecting a tough game against the students, who Old Boys’ director of rugby Mike Freeman believes will be favourites.

“We’ve just got to try and take the game to them,” said Freeman. “They are pretty good but, hopefully, we can get a result.

“We have got one or two players back, but others are unavailable as it’s a non-league weekend. We’ve just got to wait and see who is available.”

Meanwhile, Tamar Saracens and St Columba & Torpoint both have rearranged league games to play this weekend.

Bottom side Saracens will host table toppers Falmouth at the Parkway in the Cornwall/Devon League.

The match has been postponed twice, but Saracens are keen to play it and hope they can push Falmouth hard.

Falmouth, who last week beat Plymstock Albion Oaks 57-6, will be odds on favourites to beat Saracens, but that suits the city side.

“We have a got a good team out, so fingers crossed with can give them a good go,” said spokesman Marc Cioffi.

“This fixture has been postponed a number of times now and I think both teams just want to get it out of the way.

“Not many teams have done well against them this season, but we have to go out confident.

“Believe it or not, the club is still positive.

“We have nothing to lose this week; it is just about pride.

“We will never go into a game with the mind-set of ‘let’s not lose by so many’ – we always go out to try and win.

“But we know it is definitely going to be a challenge.  However, as long as we can hold our own against them then we can come off with our heads held high.”

St Columba & Torpoint, bottom of Devon Two, also have a massive challenge when they host unbeaten league leaders Dartmouth at Defiance Field.

That match has also been postponed twice. Dartmouth will be crowned Devon Two champions if they win on Saturday.

South West rugby fixtures can be viewed HERE.

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