DEVONPORT Services closed the gap on Western Counties West leaders St Ives with a hard-earned 17-10 win at a wet and muddy Chard.
Second-placed Services are now just eight points behind St Ives with a game in hand and the Cornish side still to play at the Rectory.
They led 3-0 at half-time against Chard before going 17-0 ahead with tries by Jack Evans and Andy Pond, which were both converted by Richard West.
But rather than push on they had to weather a comeback by the home side to claim the four points.
“It was wet and muddy and it certainly was not a spectacle,” said Services coach Mike Lewis.
“There was never a danger of a proper rugby game breaking out. There were a lot of mauls, a lot of pick-and-goes, a lot of knock-ons and a lot of scrums. It was a tough afternoon.
“We knew they liked to play a tight game even on a dry track from when we played them before.”
Lewis admitted his team probably got too concerned about trying to claim the try-scoring bonus point.
“We had quite a few penalties in the first half and we probably could have kicked a few and made the gap a bit wider, but I think at the back of our minds was trying to get the five points,” he said.
“We may be pushed trying to get tries too much in the first half and we were only 3-0 up at half-time.
“We probably should have kicked a few more points, which may have demoralised them and may have given us that momentum to get those extra tries. We kept going for the corner all the time. We went away from what we usually do well – building that score.
“But, to be fair, the boys did really well. They had to dig deep.
“We knew it was going to be tough to get five points, but it is a win.”
Meanwhile, Devonport Services seconds will host Tavistock at the Rectory on Tuesday night in the quarter-finals of the Lockie Cup.
Saltash’s Cornwall/Devon League and RFU Senior Vase double header with Withycombe was postponed late on due to a waterlogged pitch.
They will attempt to play the fixture this coming weekend.
Tamar Saracens’ Devon One match with Old Techs also fell foul to the weather, while Ilfracombe pulled out of travelling to play OPMs in Devon Two.
Plympton Victoria conceded a walkover against Buckfastleigh under the rules for lower league clubs, but the teams did play out an entertaining ‘friendly’ at Marsh Mills.
Due to Six Nations weekend, Plym Vic were short of players but by making it a friendly they could borrow a couple from Buckfastleigh and have a good 15-a-side game. Buckfastleigh ended up winning 26-3.
Conditions were tough and there were lots of mistakes, but both sets of players appeared to enjoy the run-out.
Buckfastleigh went 14-0 up with tries by Sean Devenish and Tim Wigley, which were both converted by Harry Laity.
Plym Vic came back with a penalty by Jordan Mitchell before Ryan Currie was controversially ruled to have scored just before half-time when he appeared to ground the ball out of play.
There was only one try in the second half and that came from Jack Chew after just three minutes of the restart following an interception.
DHSOB also travelled to North Tawton for a friendly. They were also short of players so conceded the league walkover.