TAMAR Saracens bounced back from their heavy defeat to South Molton last weekend by edging out city rivals Old Techs 25-22 in a re-arranged Devon One and Lockie Cup double-header at the Parkway.
Techs, who had not lost since the end of September, started the better and were leading for a large part of the first period, but two tries in final five minutes of the half gave Sarries a 18-8 lead at the break.
The hosts extended that to 25-8 after the interval, but in the final 12 minutes Techs scored two breakaway tries through speedy winger Peni Turua to set up a tense final few minutes.
In the end both teams were left frustrated on the final whistle for different reasons.
“It was disappointing,” said Techs chairman Dave Evans. “It was fits and starts from us. We played well in patches and when we did we were the better team.
“But we gave away far too many penalties and we switched off for 10 minutes and conceded two tries.
“It was disappointing as we came down here confident and felt we could have beaten them.
“But we got a bonus point and they still have to come down to us.”
Tamar Saracens’ director of rugby Pete Lethbridge said: “I would say we were very dominant first half and the first 10-15 of the second half we were looking good, but then we just went to sleep. They have some really quick boys outside and they proved that.
“I should be happy but we were hoping to get the bonus point win and that didn’t happen.
“Like I said, for the first 50 minutes or so we were good and were on top. We could have stretchered our lead, but then we just decided to stop playing and let them into it. It ended up coming down to the nitty, gritty.
“But it is a win and it was also a cup game as well so there are some positives to take, but not a great deal.”
Techs started on the front foot and after some early pressure were awarded a kickable penalty that the left-footed Tom Ryan put over.
But instantly Sarries got a penalty at the other end which centre Tommy Pullinger easily slotted through the uprights.
Ryan missed a penalty to put Techs back in front, but the visitors kept up the pressure and a minute later the tricky Turua scored in the left corner after some good play.
Techs knocked on the re-start and Sarries put the pressure on and got a penalty of their own, which Pullinger kicked to reduce the gap to 8-6.
Billy Evans missed a penalty on the right on 21 minutes and so the score stayed at 8-6 until just before half-time.
Sarries got their first try in the 39th minute courtesy of back-row forward Joey Pook following a scrum 10-metres out. The scrum had come about as the referee had stopped play for a scuffle that had involved Pook and Evans.
The hosts then scored again with the last play of the half – four minutes into injury-time – with the dangerous Frazer Tatchell going over in the left corner. Techs were unhappy as they felt a line-out that the try came from was not straight and that Tatchell has been pushed into touch, but the referee was happy to award the score.
Sarries, who dominated the line-outs, missed a penalty at the start of the second half but they did increase their lead on 49 minutes when after some intense pressure winger Ryan Currie ran in to score and Pullinger converted.
The game looked done and dusted then, especially when Techs had second-row James Douglas yellow carded midway through the second half.
But within three minutes of going down to 14 men, Techs had cut the gap. Prop Danny Bond cleared his lines with a hopeful kick. He then chased it and kicked the ball forward again and it fell perfectly for Turua to pick up and run in to score his second try of the game.
And six minutes later, while still down to 14 players, Turua completed his hat-trick with a long-range effort after receiving a good pass from Watisoni Radaubale.
But there was to be no stunning comeback for the visitors as Sarries took no chances in the final few minutes to seal the win.
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria edged out a St Columba & Torpoint side 25-20 in a mix-and-match game at Defiance Field.
Saints have struggled to get a team out this season and a number of their side have been playing for Plym Vic, who agreed to return to the favour this weekend to make sure a fixture could be played.
“We were keen to honour the fixture and it turned into a proper mix-and-match game of rugby,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “Everyone had a good game, which was the main thing, and there were some great rugby played.”