RUGBY PREVIEWS: Services eye away win as they head back to Keynsham for replay

DEVONPORT Services are hoping a second trip to Keynsham just 14 days after the last will prove worthwhile.

Services were losing 27-22 to the Somerset club two weeks ago in a South West One match when the referee pulled a calf muscle on 65 minutes and was unable to continue.

Devonport felt they would have gone on and won the game as they had the momentum, out-scoring their hosts 14-3 in the second half. At the time they still had a chance of finishing in the top two and so were not prepared to settle for just two bonus points and league officials ordered the game to be replayed this Saturday.

Since then, however, Services’ hopes of sneaking into the top two have all-but ended after narrowly losing 26-22 to Launceston last week.

But head coach Mike Lewis does not want this weekend’s trip to go unrewarded.

“If we had got off the bus a bit quicker the last time we went there then the score might have been a bit different and we might not have had to replay it,” said Lewis.

“So we do have to prove ourselves a bit this week, especially on the road.”

He added: “If we had won last week then replaying this game would have been great, but as it has worked you could say two points might have been fine.

“But that’s not my mentality. We try to have a never-say-die attitude and it’s an opportunity to try and get five points rather than two and we want to try and go out and take that.

“I think they (Keynsham) are a bit annoyed (about replaying). I know they were supposed to have a local cup game on Friday and they’ve cancelled that to play this as the league takes precedent so I think they will have quite a good side out.”

Services sit in fifth spot. They are one point ahead of sixth-placed St Ives, six behind Bridgwater in fourth and 11 behind third-placed Newent.

“Bridgwater are not too far in front of us and we still have to play Newent, who are up there,” said Lewis. “We also have to play (leaders) Okehampton and North Petherton, who are just behind us, so there’s plenty to play for.

“We could finish sixth and quite far off the top but we want to be finishing third or fourth and being up there. I think the players have really good motivation to try and get up there. Everyone is working hard.”

Services are missing a few players this weekend, including backs Richard West and Bentley Halpin.

“We have a few boys who are going to be coming in and hopefully they really want to have a go,” said Lewis.

Meanwhile, Services’ second team will be hoping to book a place in the Lockie Cup final on Saturday when they host Cornwall/Devon League side Liskeard-Looe in the first semi-final of the competition.

Liskeard’s head coach is Neil Bayliss, who Lewis worked with at Launceston, and the Devonport boss expects the Lions to offer his second string a tough test.

“They have a big pack and a couple of good backs and they are doing okay in their league. They have ground out some good results,” said Lewis.

“We can only have 19 players for this game when we are used to having 22 so we have to make some tough decisions.”

The winner of Saturday’s tie will face either Old Techs or Peninsula Medical School in the final. The second semi will be held at Weston Mill on March 30.

In the RNEC Cup semi-finals, Tamar Saracens will host DHSOB at the Parkway this weekend.

Sarries will be holding a VIP and sponsors day and have invited Devon president Treve Mitchell to attend the game.

“A couple of players are away so we might chop and change,” said Tamar Saracens coach Pete Lethbridge. “But we are going out to win the game and hopefully we can get to a final.”

DHSOB have been steadily improving over the season and this weekend will be a test of how much they have come on.

In the Pedrick Cup, OPMs II will host Plymouth Argaum II at King George V Playing Field for the opportunity to play University of Plymouth V in the final on April 17.

On Sunday, Devon Under-20s will entertain Hampshire in the County Championship at Ivybridge’s Cross-in-Hand ground (2.30pm).

Devon need to win the game to maintain their place in the top tier of county rugby.

Both Devon and Hampshire are winless so far in the group, losing to Cornwall and Gloucestershire.

Ivybridge’s Will Lamont, Marcus Prout, Adam Northcott, Owen Garner and Jay Toogood, Devonport Services’ Harry Groves and Plymstock Albion Oaks’ Tom Tabb are all in the Devon squad for the match.

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