SALTASH will be aiming to move to within touching distance of Twickenham this weekend when they play Swindon College Old Boys at Moorlands Lane in the quarter-finals of the RFU Senior Vase (2pm).
However, if the Cornwall/Devon League side are going to reach English rugby’s HQ, they are going to have to do it without their talisman and top try scorer Will Morton.
Winger Morton has been in sparkling form for the Ashes this season, but he will miss the rest of the campaign after breaking a metatarsal in his foot.
“Unfortunately, he is out for the season,” admitted Saltash coach Richard Thompson. “He has been a key player for us. He is a big attacking threat as he is exceptionally quick. He’s also pretty good defensively as well.
“It is a big blow as he has been a go-to man, but someone else will slot in there. We’ve got to rely on the squad.”
Thompson insists the Saltash squad are relishing this weekend’s South West Counties’ final against runaway Berks/Bucks & Oxon Premier League leaders Swindon, who have only lost once all season.
“You know when you get to the latter stages (of a national competition) you are going to be up against decent teams,” said Thompson. “So we are expecting that.
“Nick Skinnard went to watch them last week against Hungerford, but they won 85-0 so it was difficult to really judge them. However, they are a robust side, who have a big fly-half and two pretty decent centres.
“It is going to be a big challenge, but one we are certainly looking forward to.”
Thompson said Saltash will go into this weekend’s match like they did against Winscombe in the last round – not knowing too much about their opponents.
But Thompson added: “I think that puts the boys a little bit more on edge going into the game, which suited us well in the last encounter.”
If Saltash could win they would be just 80 minutes away from playing at Twickenham. However, no-one at Moorlands Lane is getting carried away.
“It would be very, very nice to get there, but we’ve got a hard game on Saturday,” said Thompson. “And, if we do get through that, then we’d also have a tough semi-final.
“But it (the cup run) has certainly livened up our season and this weekend is going to be a big occasion for both sides.”
Meanwhile, Plymouth Argaum have a vital rearranged Cornwall/Devon League match at Topsham on Saturday.
If the Bickleigh Down side, who sit in 10th spot in the table, lose to second-from-bottom Topsham then they would be in serious trouble.
Argaum are currently just four points clear of the relegation zone, with only Honiton, Bodmin, Topsham and already-relegated Tamar Saracens below them.
Topsham have beaten Plymstock Albion Oaks and Pirates Amateurs in their last two games to give themselves hope of escaping the drop.
“We have to go up there and try and get a win,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman, who admitted there is pressure on the Plymouth Combination side.
The game should have been played two weeks ago but was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
“Because this was supposed to be a free weekend we have got the usual unavailabilities,” added Quarterman.
“We have got an okay side out but it’s a different side. It would be great if we could get everyone available the same week.”
Jamie Burton and Mike Hunt are among the unavailable players but Argaum should be able to welcome back Mason Edwards, John Ireland and scrum-half Ben Glanfield. They are waiting to see if Dan Smith will be fit following an eye injury.