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GALLERY: Devonport Services end pre-season campaign with victory over Saltash

DEVONPORT Services completed their pre-season fixtures with a 45-0 win over Cornwall/Devon League outfit Saltash at the Rectory on Friday night.

All but one of the South West One club’s tries came in the second half as they brought on fresh players and Saltash, who were struggling a bit for numbers and playing their first pre-season game, tired.

An unconverted try from close range by forward Ignatius Oberholzen accounted for the only points in the first half.

Saltash tackled hard and were organised in defence, but they struggled in the line-out, which prevented them from really putting pressure in Services’ 22.

Devonport, who had lost to higher league Brixham and Ivybridge in their other two pre-season fixtures, had plenty of possession and territory in the opening 40 minutes, but struggled to find a way through Saltash’s hard-working defence.

However, that changed after the break and two tries in four minutes by new Services centre Tom Richards took the game away from Saltash.

Elliott Lupson then scored a try in the right corner. It looked like he had knocked it on as he grounded it, but it was given and Services got the rub of the green again minutes later when Lee Jarvis scored under the posts when the pass to him had looked forward.

Richard West, who had come on as a replacement, had his kicking boots on and converted those four quick tries and then added another from the touchline after Toby Knowles scored in the corner with seven minutes to go.

However, there was still time for Lupson to get a second and wrap up a comfortable win in the end.

Both clubs were happy with what they got out of the fixture.

“We had seven first-year seniors and quite a few were playing their first ever game of senior rugby, which is really exciting,” said Services head coach Mike Lewis.

The Devonport boss was particularly pleased with how his team stuck at their task, despite struggling to break Saltash down in the opening 40 minutes.

“In the first half were we physical enough? No. Did Saltash have more than we were expecting? Absolutely – I thought they were brilliant,” said Lewis.

“But second half just having those extra few players and having that extra fitness told and we managed to get around them (Saltash) a bit more.

“But throughout the game we really did work hard. At times it didn’t go well, but we didn’t put our heads in the sand, we just got back up and started again, which is what I enjoyed.”

Services will have a joint training session with Launceston on Tuesday but have opted not to play another pre-season match next weekend, with it being a bank holiday and to reduce the risk of players getting Covid ahead of the start of the league campaign.

Saltash, meanwhile, are hopeful they might be able to get another fixture before they start their Cornwall/Devon League season away at North Tawton on September 4.

They felt there were plenty of positives to take out of Friday’s game, especially as they were not quite at full strength.

“Like a lot of teams we have struggled to get people back and we just had the 18 players,” said assistant coach Steve ‘Albert’ Hall. “But in the first half we were really pleased.

“We wanted one hard game – and this was it as they are two leagues above us – but the boys always seem to step up a gear when we play Services.

“We did target this as a trial game. We knew the result probably wouldn’t go our way, but I was surprised in the first half just how well we played.

“Our defence was good. Our set-piece suffered as they had a much bigger pack and we haven’t had the people at training to get that firing yet. It did mean our backs did not have a lot to work off, but when they did get the ball from broken play they were able to use it, which I was pleased with.

“All in all, it wasn’t a bad for us and hopefully the numbers will start to creep back up now.”

Like Services, Saltash also have a number of former colts coming through into the senior ranks.

Hall said: “We have got a very good youth set-up and the colts coming through are well coached and some have played a bit of rugby league over the summer so they have managed to get a bit of contact rugby.”

Ivybridge’s game against a Taunton XV that was planned for Friday at Cross-in-Hand was called off.

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