OLD TECHS showed tremendous character to retain the Lockie Cup on Wednesday night by beating DHSOB 31-28 in a classic final at the Rectory.
Devon Two runners-up Techs had agonisingly lost the Devon Junior Vase and the David Butt Memorial Trophy finals this season by just one score.
The 12-10 Devon Junior Vase loss at the hands of Exeter Saracens was still fresh in their minds, having only occurred five days earlier.
And Techs appeared to be still carrying a hangover from that defeat in the first half against DHSOB.
They trailed their city rivals 21-8 at the break, with DHSOB in inspired form led by Lopeti Faha and teenage full-back Tommy Pullinger.
Mentally it was a tough challenge for Techs to come back, but they did it.
They upped their game second half and that led to DHSOB losing their discipline. However, it took Techs until the last minute of normal time to finally get back ahead of their rivals.
The match had everything and certainly entertained the crowd inside the Rectory, although most did struggle to tell the teams apart with one playing in black and the other in dark green.
Techs, who will be playing in Devon One next season after winning promotion, opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a penalty from Billy Evans.
But DHSOB did not let them add to that and it was them who started to dominate territory.
The Stonehouse Creek club took the lead in the 23rd minute when fly-half Atunaisa Kovula went over on the left. His try was brilliantly converted from the touchline by youngster Pullinger.
Old Techs captain Evans, kicking in the absence of Paul Ansell, who broke his arm in Saturday’s Devon Junior Vase, missed a penalty on 25 minutes.
However, four minutes later he showed great strength and determination to score on the left after some good play by Techs. That was the first real time in the game they had been able to put some passes and phases together.
It looked like Techs might go in at the break 8-7 up, but DHSOB shocked them by scoring two tries in four minutes at the end of the half.
Both were scored by the impressive Faha, playing on the left wing. Techs just could not stop him. His second try he pushed off three tacklers.
Those two tries both came out wide but Pullinger brilliantly converted them both to give DHSOB a 21-8 half-time advantage.
Within minutes of the second half, Techs had cut that down to 10 points with a drop-goal.
Techs, with Evans impressing, then started to turn the screw with their pick-and-go game.
DHSOB started to lose their discipline and they had two players sin-binned on 53 minutes.
Techs got penalty after penalty but could not seem to score. The game was held up for a while after a fight broke out but after talking to his assistants, the referee decided to just warn both sides.
Eventually Techs’ pressure did tell with experienced lock Phil Ingleson crossing on the right from close range for a try that Evans converted to leave Techs just three points behind with 20 minutes to go.
Eight minutes later Evans kicked a penalty to level the match, but they knew that would not be enough as DHSOB were ahead on tries scored.
Evans had the chance to put his side in front four minutes later but he surprisingly missed a penalty kick and Techs also suffered another blow with a serious looking shoulder injury to Ingleson.
In the last minute of normal time, Techs missed a drop-goal but were awarded a penalty for an earlier infringement.
Most people were surprised to see them go for the corner, but it proved a good decision as from the line-out they drove inside before prop Rudi Baker went back down the blindside to score in the corner, much to the delight of the Techs supporters.
And it got better for them six minutes into injury-time when James Douglas went over on the right following a line-out to make it 31-21.
But DHSOB finished strongly and, with the last play of the game, Faha completed a hat-trick, which Pullinger converted.