DEVONPORT Services will start 2020 at the top of South West One after two tries in the last five minutes secured them a 15-10 victory over North Petherton at a muddy Rectory.
Injury-hit Services had suffered last-gasp agony the week before when they conceded a late converted try to lose 22-20 away at Newent, but this time it was them that left it late.
Neither side managed to bag any points in the first half, despite trying their best.
However, after the interval Services, who had the luxury of changing their shirts at the break, took the lead when winger Kyle Browne went over in the corner to make it 5-0.
But mid-table North Petherton, who Devonport had beaten 41-21 at home at the start of the season, hit back.
Matt Stevens scored their first try when he went over after the visitors went wide following a tap penalty at a scrum.
Jack Rees brilliantly converted from the touchline to put North Petherton ahead before he added a penalty to edge his side 10-5 ahead.
At that point, Devoport were probably wishing they had moved the game to the artificial pitch at Keyham.
But, with time running out, Services dug deep and from a penalty they went to the corner and from the line-out they got a big dive on and fly-half Richard West was the man that got the ball down.
And, with 80 minutes up, the hosts got another penalty. It was not an easy kick and so Services went for the corner and it proved the correct decision as from the line-out Andy Pond was driven over to seal the win.
“Conditions did not help,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach. “They were awful, but the lads battled really well.
“It was a real hard-fought win but we have achieved our aim of being top at Christmas.”
Leach did admit that it is a good job there are no games planned for the Rectory for a few weeks as the pitch did take a battering.
Services’ second team also won as they beat Cullompton 33-27 at home in Devon Merit Table Division One.
Meanwhile, Saltash dropped down to second from bottom in Western Counties West after they lost 26-5 at home to Wiveliscombe in a match that was abandoned on 69 minutes.
Some at Moorlands Lane on Saturday felt the game should never have started and the conditions did make the contest quite farcical.
The mud and heavy rain played into Wiveliscombe’s hands, who used their forwards well, especially in the second half.
The Somerset side had started the day behind the Ashes but they are now up to 10th and Saltash have dropped down two places.
Saltash did get the start they wanted when hot-shot winger Will Morton went over in the corner to give them a 5-0 lead.
But on 20 minutes the visitors went in front and never looked back. They were 14-5 up at the break before adding 12 points in the second half.
Eventually the referee decided it was unplayable but as more than 60 minutes had been played the result stands.
In the Cornwall/Devon League, Liskeard-Looe were left frustrated that there game with Torquay was abandoned on 49 minutes.
Liskeard were leading 10-7 and looked in command. The hosts impressed in the scrums, matched Torquay in the line-out and looked to have the sharper backs.
Flanker Nathan Wills scored Liskeard’s only try, with Nick Parker converting it and adding a penalty. However, as the game did not reach the 60th minute mark the result will not stand.
Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, Tavistock’s game at Paignton was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, while Veor handed Plymstock Albion Oaks a walkover.