MATT SIMMONDS scored two tries as Old Techs dug deep in tricky conditions to beat Salcombe 21-11 and progress through to the quarter-finals of the Devon Junior Cup.
A gale-force wind blowing down the Weston Mill pitch made passing difficult and kicking into it almost impossible.
Techs made a dream start by scoring from kick-off. They kept possession for nearly 90 seconds before the powerful Simmonds scored on the left.
But Techs’ restart kick, which should have gone 25 metres, was blown back by Storm Callum to the halfway line, giving Salcombe a scrum from which they attacked. They got a penalty which Lee Clarke kicked to close the gap.
The hosts then struggled to get out of their half. They were not able to kick and the wind was making it hard to pass.
The visitors, whose back three always looked dangerous, had a try disallowed on 12 minutes for a forward pass before they did take the lead on 31 minutes with another Clarke penalty.
Techs had a player sin-binned at the end of the first half, but they came out for the second period in determined mood, knowing they had the elements in their favour.
It took them just five minutes to go back in front when Joel Dicken kicked a penalty. He added another three minutes later before Salcombe flanker Max Rawlinson scored a try following a scrum to tie the match at 11-11.
However, with 10 minutes to go Simmonds scored his second try after four successive five-metre line-outs. Dicken brilliantly converted from the touchline and then made sure of win with a late penalty.
Salcombe did finish on the attack, but Techs held them out.
“We were very disjointed in the first half. I think we tried to force things too much. We had the game structure in the first 15 minutes but then we just lost it. We didn’t get up in defence and allowed them to run. Their 14 and 15 were brilliant runners and we didn’t close them down quick enough and that allowed them to get behind us. And once they did that we panicked a little bit.
“In the first 10-15 minutes we just kept passing the ball five metres, but then all of a sudden we thought we could pass the ball 15 metres in the wind and the poor receiver ended up with three defenders on them. It’s not rocket science, you just needed to keep it nice and tight, suck the defence in and then pop it out wide.
“But the structure in the second half was better and we started to win ball and get some go-forward by changing the full-back and centres around. We started to play sensibly, putting the ball in the corner and playing percentage rugby, which is what we were looking for.
“I think we got a little frustrated in the breakdowns, but overall I am pleased as we did keep the structure for most of the game.”
He added: “Numbers are picking up at training now and I can see the momentum picking up as we go along.
“We have several players away on deployment with 29 Commando, but they are back in November, which is when we are likely to hit the ground running and start making an impression on the league.”
DHSOB were not able to cause a major surprise and beat higher league Buckfastleigh.
The Old Boys lost 49-0, but coach Martyn Ruskin was pleased with the side’s performance against a team in the top four of Devon One.
“They are well organised and our lads did really well,” said Ruskin. “They can take a lot of pride from that performance.
“Although the scoreline might say it was very one-sided, it wasn’t. I don’t think at no point did we look like a league below team. We just looked like a team that didn’t take opportunities whereas they did.
“Buckfastleigh admitted they thought they were coming for a far easier day at the office.
“Hats off to the lads; they set themselves some goals, they stuck at it and they looked after each other as a team, which was really pleasing.
“The lads were pleased with it. I think they avenged the demons from the first half last week (against Plympton Victoria). That was their goal.”
DHSOB will now drop into the Devon Junior Plate, which will go straight to the semi-final stage after four clubs pulled out of playing first round fixtures on Saturday.
Tamar Saracens did not travel to Dartmouth, Plympton Victoria failed to play OPMs, St Columba & Torpoint pulled out of facing Totnes, while New Cross withdrew for their match with Torrington.
Those four clubs, who had opted in to play in the cup at the start of the season, have now been told they will not be allowed to enter the plate competition and have been told will also be suspended from next season’s cup.
Techs will now visit Torrington in the last eight of the cup competition, with OPMs hosting Exeter Athletic.
DHSOB will face either Salcombe, Ilfracombe or Exeter Saracens in the last four of the plate.
Saltash claimed their first win of the season when they beat Western Counties West rivals Falmouth 32-31 at Moorlands Lane in the Cornwall Cup.
Falmouth took an early 5-0 lead but Saltash hit back with a penalty from fly-half Kieran Down and then a try by captain Lewis Wells.
Despite the tough conditions both sides played positive rugby. Falmouth scored a second try before winger Joe Rider scored and Down converted to give the hosts a 15-10 half-time lead.
That became 25-10 after the interval when Wells claimed his second try of the afternoon, closely followed by a touch-down by Down.
Falmouth closed the gap to one point before the Ashes pulled away again to make it 32-24 when winger Moriarty crossed on the left and Down brilliantly converted.
Falmouth, though, refused to give up and did score another try right at the death.
In the Devon Merit Table Division One, third-placed Devonport Services II narrowly lost 17-14 away at unbeaten leaders Newton Abbot, while Ivybridge Vandals beat Okehampton II 20-19.
In the Ellis Trophy, Tavistock II beat Plymouth Argaum II 13-0 at a windy Sandy Park.