SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services continued their high-scoring start to the season with a 41-21 victory away at North Petherton on Saturday.
They have scored 93 points in their first two games, having beaten Newton Abbot 52-13 in their opening fixture.
But they had to work hard for their win in Somerset on Saturday. They were only 20-13 up at half-time and there was a point in the second period where the game could have gone either way, but the visitors dug deep for the five points.
Services had to make a number of changes to their team that beat Newton Abbot. Richard West, Keir Murphy, Tyler Busfield and Matt Neyle-Opie were all injured, while Corey Jamieson, who had scored four tries against Newton Abbot, missed the start of Saturday’s game after getting stuck in traffic coming from London.
But summer signing Jamieson still managed to make his mark when he did come on in the second half by scoring a try to take his tally to five in his first two games for the club.
Alex Mawdsley, making his league debut at fly-half in the absence of the injured West, kicked two penalties to put Services 6-0 ahead.
The visitors went 13-0 up with a try by winger Toby Knowles, which Mawdsley converted.
But North Petherton, who had beaten Services 46-26 at their place last season, hit back and closed the gap to three points before Will Marsh scored a try for Devonport, which Mawdsley converted.
The hosts kicked a penalty just before the break to close the gap to one score. However, after the interval Devonport gave themselves some breathing space with tries by Sam Bennett and Jake Inglis – his first for the club. That put them 34-13 up but the hosts came back again and made it 34-21 until Jamieson settled the match with a try.
“North Petherton are a big old side,” said Services head coach Mike Lewis. “I think we were always that one step ahead, but they were always within touching distance throughout the game. We had to dig in really hard to keep them out at times as they have some real big players.
“Even though our defence was probably the best it has been in quite a while they still made yards in the contact just because they were so big and strong. That is something we really have to learn to deal with – how to get them down a bit quicker and earlier.
“There was probably a turning point at about 60-65 minutes where we kept them out and then Corey has gone away and scored that try, which has given us that bit of breathing space.
“But every score we really hard to work hard for.”
Services second team also made it two wins out of two as they beat Tiverton II 52-10 in Devon Merit Table Division One.
In Western Counties West, Saltash returned empty handed from a trip to newly-promoted Wiveliscombe, where they lost 34-24.
It was looking promising for the Ashes at half-time as they led 17-15, but Wiveliscombe hit back after the break to claim their first win since promotion.
Saltash are still looking for their first victory of the new campaign but they haven’t yet played at home.
Cornwall winger Will Morton, who was back after missing the season opener at Penryn, scored a try in the first half, which was converted by Kieron Down.
Down then added a converted try and also kicked a penalty before half-time.
The hosts had the slope in their favour after the interval and they took advantage to score three more tries, including one late on to seal the victory after Saltash had closed to three points with a try from full-back Ryan Cruickshank.
BEN HADFIELD scored a hat-trick of tries as Plymstock Albion Oaks made it two wins out of two by beating Veor 33-14 down in Cornwall.
Oaks had struggled to a 18-17 victory in their opening game away at Pirates Amateurs.
Their victory at newly-promoted Veor was more comfortable but did come at cost with highly-rated 17-year-old number eight Pete Keanie dislocating his shoulder. Keanie joins Oaks’ ever-growing list of injuries.
“It was a good result down in Cornwall,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor. “It should have been by more, if I’m honest. We did leave a lot of points out there. However, any win down in Cornwall is decent, so we are quite pleased.
“We got another injury with Pete Keanie dislocating his shoulder, which is going to rule him out for a little while and is not ideal. Our injury list is ever-growing, but we have to move on.”
He added: “Having two away games on the bounce did not do us any favours but we’ve got two wins and nine points so I’m quite pleased with that.”
As well as Hadfield, Oaks also had Tom Richards and Hayden Coles touching down for tries, with Al Murray kicking four conversions.
Tavistock have not yet managed to score a point in their opening two league games of the season.
After going down 26-0 away at North Tawton in their opening match, they lost 21-0 at home to much-fancied Paignton on Saturday.
In a tight game, Paignton were only 7-0 up at half-time with a converted try by Jordan Hodge. The south Devon side’s defence was outstanding and they increased their lead to 14-0 with a Steve Worth try. The visitors sealed the game in the 79th minute after Tavistock had picked up a red card with another Worth try, which Mike Sandercock, as he had done with Paignton’s other tries, converted.
Liskeard-Looe are also still looking for their first win of the season after losing 36-18 away at Torquay.
The Lions struggled in the first half and trailed 19-3. They were better in the second period and scored tries through centre Ollie Aggis and scrum-half James Noel-Johnson, but they could not get anything out of the game. Fly-half Nick Parker kicked the rest of their points.
OPMs scored two converted tries in the final 10 minutes to secure a hard-earned 25-14 derby win over city rivals Old Techs in their opening Devon One match of the season.
In a tight game at King George V Playing Fields, Techs took a 14-11 lead in the 69th minute, but OPMs scored straight from the restart and then sealed the win with a try with the last play of the game.
Sammie Matts had given OPMs the lead in the seventh minute with a penalty.
But Techs gradually got into the game and their pressure led to OPMs have a man sin-binned. The visitors missed a penalty before winger Dan Pullen scored a fine try, which Ryan Tunnicliffe converted to put them 7-3 ahead.
Matts reduced the gap to one point on 32 minutes and Techs kicked straight out at the restart and OPMs scored a try from the resultant scrum, with young full-back Fred Smale showing good pace to score on the right and make it 11-7.
Matts missed a penalty with the last play of the half so the score stayed at 11-7 at the break.
OPMs’ line-out was excellent, with new signing from Ivybridge Pete Abraham constantly stealing Techs’ ball. However, Techs had the upper hand in the scrum, but could not really make that advantage count.
OPMs were reduced to 14 men for 10 minute again earlier in the second half and Matts missed a penalty.
And it did not look good for them when prop Mike Walkden scored a good try after a brilliant run by Jonny Young for Techs. Tunnicliffe added the conversion to make it 14-11.
But for the second time in the game, Techs messed up a restart. They didn’t gather OPMs’ kick and Paul Roberts sneaked in to score on the left, which Matts converted to put his side four points ahead.
And the hosts sealed the game in the last minute when, from a scrum on halfway, Smale’s broke down the right wing before off-loading to Martin Skelly to run in and score under the posts.
Afterwards OPMs’ new head coach Rick Orkney said: “I thought we left a few points out there. Skelly got tap-tackled when he was clean through and we got held up over the line once as well.
“I was really pleased with the work we did off the ball. I thought we pressed very well and our shape generally was very good. When we did lose shape we gave them opportunities and when we lost our composer we gave them opportunities. We did a few silly things and we just have to cut them out. If we do that I think we will be all right.”
He added: “We had a lot of players missing, but that was a step up from last week. We played all right last week (against Totnes) but I thought we played very well for a large part of this game.
“I thought we were the better side. I was really pleased, but we just gave them opportunities to come back into the game. Yet in terms of organisation and game-plan we played very well.”
Old Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith was disappointed his team did not get anything out of the game, especially after going ahead with just 11 minutes to play, but he felt there were plenty of positives.
“It was just that bit of lack of concentration and our line-out not functioning,” said Bedford-Smith. “But our scrum went really well. I was really happy with our scrum. We have massively improved there. We were going back 10 to the dozen against them last year, but this time we were driving them back. That was a big positive
“We are disappointed we lost, but not really disappointed with the performance. It was just some individual errors that cost us the game, but it is nothing that can’t be fixed.
“I think the difference between them and us was a bit of organisation. Their line-outs worked well and they worked well off the scrum, even though they were under pressure there. They scored two tries from back-row moves and that comes from training.
“We have been up and down with numbers in training – one week we will have good numbers and the next week bad – but now that we are in the season the players need to wake up and get to training as there is nothing we can’t fix there.
“Overall, I thought it was a good game to watch. It was end-to-end with both teams giving everything.
“We actually defended well. They didn’t really come through us in open play but they worked off our mistakes. It was just down to individual errors and a lack of concentration, but we can sort that out.
“They also scored two tries off scrums which were well-executed. Sometimes you just have to go ‘that’s a good try we couldn’t do much about that’.
“But we scored a couple of good tries and didn’t give up. There is more to come from this team. We still have a lot of players to come back, which is a positive.”
Tamar Saracens had to dig deep to pick up five points against newly-promoted Ilfracombe at Brimlands in their season opener.
Saracens won 26-13 but finished the game with 13 players after debutant scrum-half Rikki Brandham was sent off after picking up two yellow cards and Chey Bryce was also sin-binned.
Centre Ryan Deacon scored two tries and kicked two conversions, with Rhys Garbutt and Jamie Lavill-Harris also touching down for Sarries, who were making their longest trip of the campaign.
“It was the first game and there was a bit of rustiness,” said Sarries head coach Pete Lethbridge.
“It was quite a frustrating day. But it’s the longest journey we are going to do and we got the result – a bonus-point win – so I’m happy with that. Some things could be better and we know there’s a lot to work on.
“We only had 13 players on the field at the end and the last 15 minutes they were camped in our 22 but we defended really well.
“It was a good work-out for us and this trip is out of the way now. It is the first time I’ve been up here and it has been dry and sunny. It is a difficult place to come and to be fair to Ilfracombe they will cause other teams problems who come up here. They are quite a youthful side and play some decent rugby. It is going to be a tough trip for whoever comes up here.”
Youngster Jack Morris scored two tries as Plymouth Argaum started life back in Devon One with a 34-19 win at New Cross.
Argaum, who were relegated from the Cornwall/Devon League last season, led 20-7 at the break, with Tom Bradshaw, Dan Smith and Morris scoring tries and new signing Billy Evans kicking a conversion and a penalty.
Captain Tom Holliday extended Argaum’s lead after the interval with a try, which Evans converted.
New Cross hit back with two tries, but in the last minute Morris added a second converted try to deny the hosts a bonus point.
“The guys were very positive afterwards,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “They looked really good going forward.
“I think they felt they let New Cross back into the game, but you have to give New Cross credit.”
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria took plenty of positives out of their opening game of the season, despite losing 36-0 to last season’s champions Salcombe at their new St Mary’s home.
Plym Vic impressed up front, but Salcombe had some dangerous backs that helped them score six tries.
“Apart from the result it was quite a successful day,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt.
“To be honest – and I’m not taking anything away from Salcombe – I think the score was a little bit flattering to them. We should have done better.
“Our pack was good and strong, but we were playing single phase rugby. Our support let us down. We had some good heavy runners who were making great runs but they were not getting the support they needed from the rest of the team.
“Occasionally we did get with the runner and we made in-roads, but we didn’t do it often enough to make a difference overall.
“They had a couple of really good players – really sharp runners – and that made a difference.
“But it is certainly not doom, gloom and despondency. We were playing against a team that should be playing in Devon One or Devon Merit One this year and is was not too bad. We could have kicked a few three-pointers later on but we went for the corner.
“It was a good game. Our scrum was good and strong and the forwards in the loose were okay. We just lacked that bit of support that would have given us better continuity.”
DHSOB were left without a game after St Columba & Torpoint pulled out of playing them at Stonehouse Creek. DHSOB were handed the walkover.
Elsewhere in Devon Merit Table Division Two, Tavistock II beat OPMs II 54-14, while Saltash II went down 53-17 at last season’s David Butt Trophy winners Torquay Athletic II.