THE first set of Plymouth Combination rugby finals take place on Wednesday night at the Rectory.
The Pedrick Cup will be first up at 6pm and will see Plympton Victoria take on OPMs seconds.
That will be followed at 7.30pm by the RNEC final between Saltash IIs and Devonport Services IIs.
The second evening of Plymouth Combination cup finals – the Lockie Cup and the Ellis Trophy – will take place the following Wednesday (April 26) also at the Rectory.
After narrowly missing out on winning the Ellis Trophy last season, perennial Devon Two strugglers Plympton Victoria are determined to try and win the Pedrick Cup and give their club a major boost.
They could not have come closer to claiming silverware last year. They lost the Ellis Trophy final 17-15 to Devonport Services IIIs, but missed two late penalties to win – one which bounced off the crossbar.
“It’s a big important day for the club,” said Plym Vic team manager Chris Hunt.
“It is always important for small clubs to get to a cup final as it is something to aim for.
“We are putting quite an importance on the day, even more so because we haven’t won that many games during the season.
“We have done better than we normally do – we have won a couple – but this is a big day in our season.”
Plym Vic are hoping their former coach Howell Phillips will be at the Rectory on Wednesday evening to watch them take on OPMs, who are another club he has links to.
The popular Phillips had to step down from coaching the team midway through the season after being diagnosed with cancer.
“He’s got some radiotheraphy during the day but he’s hoping to make it,” said Hunt. “His son is captain of OPMs seconds, so he’s got a vested interested in both teams.”
He added: “We got to the Ellis Cup final last year and we came very close to winning. We were just a kick away from winning.
“I’d say our expectation levels are pretty high – as long as OPMs seconds are their seconds. If that’s the case then I think it should be a pretty even game.”
Although they finished second-from-bottom of Devon Two, Plym Vic do feel they have made improvements over the last couple of seasons.
“There have been improvements,” said Hunt. “We have played some half decent rugby this year, but obviously there are still improvements to be made.
“However, there is no better way to end the season than with a cup final, especially if we could win it. It would illustrate to the lads that what we are doing and the hard work they are putting in is paying off.”
Like most lower league clubs, player availability has been Plym Vic’s major problem.
“Because we’ve got a small squad we have inconsistency,” said Hunt. “On several occasions myself and other members of the coaching staff have had to take the field so we haven’t had to forfeit the game.”
Plym Vic’s opponents on Wednesday, OPMs may be in Devon Two but they have been able to field two teams all season, which many clubs higher up the league structure can only dream about doing.
They are also keen to lift a trophy after a frustrating season for their first team.
They finished third in the league and reached the semi-finals of the Lockie Cup and Devon Junior Cup.
Wednesday’s RNEC final also pits two clubs who have been so near to achieving major success this term.
Saltash will finish third in the Cornwall/Devon League and reached the semi-finals of the RFU National Senior Vase.
Devonport Services, meanwhile, had looked on course for promotion to South West One, but they have fallen off in the last couple of months and will have to make do with either third or fourth place in Western Counties West.
Both clubs will be hoping their second teams can pick up a trophy on Wednesday.
However, whatever happens, Saltash will get another chance to win some silverware the following week when their thirds play Plymouth University fourths in the Ellis Trophy.