SALTASH overcame a Barbarians side 36-35 in an entertaining hastily-arranged pre-season friendly at Moorlands Lane on Saturday.
The Ashes had been due to play Bodmin in their final warm-up match but their opponents pulled out of the fixture, having also done the same to Old Techs earlier this month.
But rather than not have any game, Saltash made a plea to rugby community and they were able to get a Barbarians team of players from a host of other Plymouth Combination clubs and even some visitors to the area.
And the Barbarians side, despite having never played together before, actually proved tough opponents. They had a few outstanding individuals and will have given Saltash a few pointers on what they still need to work on before opening their Cornwall/Devon League fixtures away at North Tawton on Saturday.
“We got the call on Thursday that Bodmin could not make it and so Axel (Nicks) managed to put a Barbarians side together,” said Saltash assistant head coach Steve Hall.
“It might not have been the structured opposition we would have liked, but we were able to look at some different players as we had a fair few at the Bournemouth Sevens.
“I thought the pack in the first half were really good, but maybe didn’t link up with the backs, whereas in the second half it was probably the other way around. However, it is a bit difficult in an open flowing game like that.”
It was certainly an open game, particularly in the second half, with Saltash scoring six tries and the Barbarians five.
Saltash, playing up the slope, took the lead on 20 minutes when flanker Michael Allen scored in the corner.
But the Barbarians hit straight back with impressive number eight Harry Wilford, who is planning on moving to the area, scoring under the posts and influential fly-half Jordan Blair converted.
Saltash did take a 10-7 half-time lead with Jay Moriarty touching down in the left corner five minutes before the break.
The hosts increased their lead after the interval when scrum-half Lewis Stuart took a quick-tap penalty and dived over for a try he converted.
But then the Barbarians scored two quick tries through half-backs William Hunt and Blair.
Powerful second-row Devon Bennett-Murray showed his strength to edge Saltash back in front from the re-start before he made one for Dave Draper as the hosts went 29-21 in front.
The impressive Wilford and Blair both scored second tries for the Barbarians to put them 35-29 ahead before Saltash captain Phil Eatwell scored a fine try under the posts to secure his team the win.
Meanwhile, an Ivybridge XV overcame Topsham 80-21 at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
Wingers Matt Burns and George de Mendonca both scored a hat-trick of tries, with fellow back Tom Scoles also bagging two. Adam Northcott and Ben Collins also touched down for the hosts.
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