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Devonport Services show their squad strength in pre-season win over higher league Brixham

KIER MURPHY and Kyle Browne scored tries against their former club as Devonport Services upset higher league Brixham at the Rectory on Friday night in an entertaining pre-season match.

Services triumphed 26-21 with scrum-half Murphy bagging two tries to go with one from Browne and one from youngster Toby Moss.

Brixham had arrived with virtually a full strength side, but they had an evening to forget with backs Harrison Cully and Mitch Pinkus appearing to limp off, forward Sam Thomas getting knocked out and prop Russell Morris getting sent off.

The match certainly showed the strength of Services’ squad as they fielded two completely different teams in each half.

“As pre-season wins come that is one of the better ones,” admitted Services head coach Mike Lewis.

“We are coming into the season with optimism and I think this re-enforces it a little bit.

“The first half was 7-7 and then we swapped teams at half-time and that opened up the game quite a bit.

“For periods of the game we played some good stuff.

“The weather stopped both teams from playing a bit, but I really enjoyed the game, not necessarily for the skill or the rugby we played but for the endeavour, heart and passion the players showed to play for this club. You can see everyone wants to play for this club.”

The match certainly had a bit of an edge to it with so many players in each side knowing each other. Brixham’s team included former Ivybridge players Scott Puleston and Mitch and Billy Pinkus, as well as former Albion players Cully and James Love and Plymouth-based Dean Avery, while Services had former Fishermen Browne, Murphy and Tom Goodman in their squad.

“There is a bit of friendly rivalry,” said Lewis. “A few of our players left to go there and have now re-joined, but I think it was all in good spirits. I think that added to the spectacle. There was a healthy crowd and I think they enjoyed that.”

Lewis admitted he is really pleased with the depth of Services’ squad now.

“That is the brilliance of this year,” said Lewis. “We have tried to create that depth. We want our seconds in that Merit Table to go well and really compete. We are trying to give a great platform for our 15s, 16s and colts to come up through and come into a decent side.”

However, Lewis knows his team cannot get carried away by Friday’s win.

“There are going to be teams in our league that are better than the league above, there always is,” he said. “We have to take this with a little pitch of salt, but at the same time use it to motivate ourselves. It shows how much potential we have at this club.”

Brixham, who have brought in the likes of Love, Billy Pinkus, Avery and Jack Bond this summer, took an earlier lead when back-rower Puleston scored and Love converted.

Services had a really good spell after that and earned penalty after penalty but could not make their line-outs tell and eventually Brixham relieved the pressure.

As the first half wore on the heavens opened but just before the break Services levelled the match when former Brixham player Browne, who re-joined Services in mid-week from Newton Abbot, skipped through to score and Richard West added the conversion.

Devonport had the luxury to be able to field a different XV for the second half and their new-look side, featuring a number of youngsters, went in front of 46 minutes when full-back Moss went over in the right corner for an unconverted try.

Five minutes later Brixham hit back when Thomas powered over on the right. However, as he touched down he collided with another player and there were a worrying few minutes before he was able to be helped off the field by the medical staff.

Despite the lengthy break, the rain and the gale-force wind, former Albion and London Scottish back Love brilliantly converted to put Brixham 14-12 ahead.

But Services responded instantly when former Brixham scrum-half Murphy showed great support play to finish off a fine backs break and young fly-half Alex Mawdsley added the conversion.

It got better for the hosts when Murphy, who was only playing 20 minutes as he makes his comeback from injury, added a second when he took a quick tap penalty and sneaked over, much to his delight. Mawdsley again converted to make it 26-14 to Services.

That seemed to wake Brixham up and former London Irish academy prop Joel Armitage got them a try back with 15 minutes to go, which Love again brilliantly converted to leave his side just five points behind,

The game got a bit heated then and a minute after some handbags, Brixham prop Morris was shown a red card for what the referee deemed foul play.

There were no more scores after that although Services came close with a kick and chase by Moss.

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