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GALLERY: Tavistock off to a flying start after 18 months without a game

TAVISTOCK returned to rugby with a bang on Saturday by beating Tamar Saracens 42-0 at home in a pre-season friendly.

The Cornwall/Devon League outfit had not played any form of rugby for 18 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, they came flying out of the blocks against Devon One side Sarries, scoring three converted tries in just over 20 minutes.

Scrum-half George Hillson, who has become Tavistock’s new joint captain alongside Martin Budden, was in inspirational form for the hosts. The former Hartpury College student scored two impressive tries, as did fellow influential back Andrew Craddick, who has returned to the club.

Forwards Budden and Darren Guppy also got on the scoresheet as the hosts scored three converted tries in each half.

However, head coach Joel Caddy is not getting too carried away by his team’s first run-out since early 2020, although he was happy with what he saw.

“We played the way we want to try and play and which the lads enjoy,” said Caddy. “After what we have been through having a bit of fun is the big thing now.

“But I am not going to make any predictions after just that, although I would like to think we are in a good place.

“We had seven or eight players missing (on Saturday) that would be pushing the lads that played.”

He added: “But as I told the lads before the match, I wasn’t actually concerned about the result – it was more about what we did and the fact that we are actually playing rugby again.

“To end up with the score we did was just a bonus. But, fair play to Tamar, they did come back at us.”

Tavistock, who will play an Okehampton XV on Tuesday, have been boosted by Jake Le Gassick, Stuart Ansell, Mark Tween and Jack Osborne joining their club in the off-season.

The influential Andrew Schuttacker has stepped down from the role of caption to just concentrate on playing, while a lot of work has been done in and around the club over the last 18 months, including revamping their bar, changing rooms and medical room.

Tamar Saracens, meanwhile, were a bit disappointed with their display on Saturday, but felt they will have learned a lot from playing a higher league side.

“Tavistock are a very good side,” said director of rugby Pete Lethbridge. “I think in the first 20 minutes we were just off the pace a bit – we didn’t get our patterns and plays right.

“But second half we were better. Overall, there were a few positives and a also few negatives, which we have to work on.

“Second half the backs were playing well and we were getting across the gain-line but that final pass was just not going.

“Luckily, it wasn’t the 4th of September as we wouldn’t have been happy then.

“But we learnt a lot from this. Unfortunately, we took a few injuries, but I think they were more muscle pulls rather than serious injuries.”

Saracens had been due to play Cornwall/Devon side Plymstock Albion Oaks on Tuesday evening, but, due to the injuries they picked up on Saturday, they may be struggling to fulfil that fixture.

Ambitious Oaks opened their pre-season campaign with an encouraging display against South West Premier outfit Brixham on Saturday.

Plymstock lost 46-5 at Horsham Fields, but Brixham are three divisions higher than then and had put 50 points on a Devonport Services XV the previous week.

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