DEVONPORT Services moved back up to second in Western Counties West with a hard-earned 28-20 home victory over fifth-placed Wadebridge.
They are now three points ahead of St Austell, who they meet next week, but the Cornish side do have a game in hand.
However, if Services could beat Saints next Saturday they would be favourites to claim runners-up spot and a play-off place.
“(Leaders) St Ives are gone now – we are not going to catch them – so it is now all about just picking up the wins,” said Devonport team manager Kieran Leach.
“We have five games left and if we win them all we will get that play-off spot.”
Services had to come from 13-7 behind early in the second half on Saturday against a Wadebridge side who they had drawn with away from home.
“We kept our patience and didn’t panic. We managed the game well. As it was tight, rather than go for tries from penalties we went to keep putting points on the board rather than chancing it.”
Services, who are unbeaten at home this season, did miss out on the try scoring bonus point, which they would have liked, but getting the win was the most important thing for them after back-to-back defeats.
Devonport, playing at the Rectory for the first time since December 17, made a good start and went 7-0 up in the opening 10 minutes when Toby Knowles gathered a Richard West chip kick after Wadebridge had lost the ball in their own half. Matt Anstis kicked the conversion from the touchline.
But rather than push on, Services started giving away a lot of penalties and Wadebridge took advantage to score a converted try and then kick a penalty to go 10-7 up.
The hosts did have a bit of pressure after that and Anstis missed a penalty on 33 minutes but in the dying moments of the half Services gave away three penalties themselves, but Wadebridge could not do anything with them.
However, the visitors did got 13-7 up early in the second half with another penalty.
“We then started playing well,” said Leach. “I think that was our wake-up call.”
Anstis put over a couple of penalties to pull his side level before they went 20-13 ahead when lock Andy Pond scored under the posts following a free-kick on the 22.
Wadebridge, though, showed why they are in the top five by regrouping and putting Services under pressure. The hosts defended well but after five minutes camped on their line they eventually conceded a second converted try.
The match in Cornwall had ended 20-20, but Services were not going to settle for a share of the points again.
Anstis kicked another penalty after Wadebridge were caught offside and then replacement flanker Joe Page crossed from a catch-and-drive move after the visitors had picked up a yellow card.
Services did give away a few late penalties but they were able to hold out for a valuable four points.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks claimed their third win in four league games with a 20-13 victory away at Hayle.
Eighth-placed Oaks also managed to score four tries to return from Cornwall with a full five points, which moves them seven points ahead of ninth-placed Argaum.
“At home Hayle have not really been dominated by anybody, so it was a really good result for us,” said Oaks coach Callum Cload. “We got five points, which is what we wanted.”
He added: “We got ahead and looked to have got comfortable, but we then let them back into the game again, which was a little bit frustrating.”
In perfect conditions and on a surprisingly good pitch, Oaks scored two early tries to go 10-0 up. Tom Richards got the first from the back of a maul, before Cload went over for their second after good play from scrum-half Lance Davies.
But Oaks gave away too many penalties that allowed Hayle to cut the gap to five points at the break.
However, Plymstock turned on the style in the opening 20 minutes of the second half and scored two more tries, with Jack Green going over after more good work by Davies and then Dave Hall went over in the corner.
Oaks took their foot of the gas after that and Hayle came back but the visitors were able to hang on.
That match was the only one played in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Title-chasing Saltash’s game at Bude was called off on the day. However, they will play OPMs on Sunday at Moorlands Lane in the Lockie Cup.
SAM WILLMINGTON kicked a late penalty to secure Plympton Victoria a narrow 18-15 victory in a scrappy 60-minute match at Marsh Mills.
Saints arrived short of numbers so turned the league fixture into a friendly and borrowed a couple of players from the host club.
Saints dominated territory early on, but Plym Vic defended well and then took the lead on 13 minutes with their first foray into the visitors’ 22. Jason Cleverley was the man that broke the deadlock when he crossed from close range.
Try scoring chances were few and far between after that and Plym Vic went in at half-time 5-0 up.
But Saints levelled straight after the interval when Axel Nicks crosseds under the posts. Surprisingly, though, the visitors missed the conversion and Victoria went back in front almost straight away when fly-half Mike Hagan scored a fine individual effort to make it 10-5.
The visitors responded when Mike Greaves scored from a clever short line-out after Plym Vic had been penalised.
And Saints then shocked Plym Vic by taking the lead for the first time when they kicked forward twice and Seamus Clancy won the race to ground the ball.
Plym Vic, however, finished strongly and Sam Stockdale showed good strength to reach out and score their third try.
The hosts were then held up over the line before winning a penalty in front of the posts from the resultant scrum, which Willmington kicked for victory.