PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks claimed their biggest win of the season on Saturday as they ran in 10 tries to beat Withycombe 60-5 at Horsham Fields in the Cornwall/Devon League.
The first half was tight and Withycombe actually took the lead before fifth-placed Oaks came back to take a 15-5 advantage into half-time.
But the hosts totally ran away with the match in the second period.
“It was a really good win in the end, but we made hard work of it in the first half going up the hill and against the conditions,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“It was 15-5 at half-time, but second half we figured them out and moved the ball a bit better and scored some really nice tries.
“They (Withycombe) were really good in the first half-an-hour – they kept us quiet and tackled really well. But when they got tired we really started to move the ball. It was a good win and another five points.”
Fifth-placed Oaks now have a 16-point gap between themselves and sixth-placed Tavistock. Although they are 11 points behind third and fourth-placed Bude and Cullompton, Taylor says they need to use them as a target now.
“We are 11 points off third,” said Taylor. “But we have Bude in a few weeks and then Cullompton and hopefully we can chase then down a bit, but a lot will depend if we can get the numbers out.”
Oaks also have not given up hope of reaching the Devon Cup final. Once again the county cup competitions are being run as internal leagues and so scores against fellow Devon opponents count.
“I think we are only three or four points behind Cullompton (in that competition),” said Taylor. “We still have to play North Tawton and Cullompton and if we win them then we could be in the final.”
Number eight Ryan McKibbin and winger Mike Puleston both scored two tries for Oaks on Saturday against Withycombe, with Andy Porter, Joe Brearley, Alex Broughton, Sean Wills, Ryan Wills and Joel Moran also going over for tries. Pete Keanie kicked five conversions.
Tavistock moved up a place in the table, despite a frustrating 8-0 away defeat to North Tawton on Friday evening.
Tavvy’s rise up the standings was due to Torquay Athletic surprisingly not been able to fulfil a fixture at Liskeard-Looe, which meant the south Devon side were docked five points.
But Tavistock were annoyed to once again return from North Tawton empty handed. It was the third match running at Taw Meadow where they had lost and not scored any points.
They had gone into the fixture in good scoring form, having run in more than 40 points against Withycombe and Saltash in their previous two games and 34 against Oaks in the match before.
They did have a try disallowed against North Tawton and Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy felt Friday’s low-scoring affair at Taw Meadow was down the referee not allowing the game to flow.
“There were nearly 300 people there expecting what should have been a hell of a game like the first one was, but it was ruined,” said Caddy, whose side had drawn 26-26 with North Tawton in a thriller at Sandy Park earlier in the season.
“They (North Tawton) put together six phases at the start of the game but after that if either side got over three phases you were lucky before the referee decided someone had infringed in some way.
“There were some very strange decisions made.”
He added: “I have no issues with the fact we lost, but the referee made what should have been a really good, entertaining game all about him.
“I think he gave around 50 penalties and there was no consistency. It was just such a shame when you have a crowd like there was up there watching.
“We also picked up some injuries as well to add insult to it.”
However, Tavistock’s seconds had a better weekend as they overcame their Saltash counterparts 34-12 at Sandy Park on Saturday in the Ellis Trophy.
PLYMOUTH Argaum made it five wins in a row at home by edging out city rivals Old Techs 20-7 on Saturday in a hard-fought match at Bickleigh Down.
Techs were again struggling for players and coach Shaun Bedford-Smith started on the wing, but the visitors really frustrated Argaum, who could not really get into the game.
With 10 minutes to go, the match was finely balanced at 12-7, but a late try and a penalty made the game safe for Argaum, who had beaten high-flying South Molton the previous week at home.
“It was a dog of a game,” said Argaum’s Stuart Quarterman afterwards. “And it took us a while to get going.
“I was happy with 12-0 at half-time and I thought we would turn the screw in the second half, but it just didn’t happen.
“In the third quarter we were really, really flat. Our tempo dropped. We made some changes to try and get it back and then some more. But just playing simple rugby was the best way to do it. We didn’t try anything fancy and we just ground it out in the end.
“The thing you get when playing Techs is that you know that every 50-50 needs to be earned – and that was evident.
“I think they probably had us in the scrums, although we did deal okay with that, but they definitely had the edge without pushing up all over the park.
“It was a really hard game, but there was a good rapport between the players.”
Techs chairman David Evans was proud of the players that did turn out and performed well, but again frustrated because he felt it was another game they could have won had they had a full team out.
“The boys that played really did dig in,” said Evans. “But from our point of view it is just disappointing that every week we have a different side out.
“Up until Friday we only had 12 players and Shaun (Bedford-Smith) has had to play again, but we have got the promise that other people will be back next week.
“The boys that played really dug in well, especially considering one of our wingers was a flanker and the other was our coach.
“You can’t fault the people that turn out for us every week and, as the opposite said, anyone playing Old Techs know they will be in for a hard game. We never roll over – we will always fight to the end.”
Despite their makeshift team and playing uphill, Techs started well at Bickleigh Down, although they did not really get close to scoring with most of the play in the opening 20 minutes taking place in the middle third of the pitch.
Techs’ really disrupted Argaum’s set piece, but gradually the hosts started to get more territory and they took the lead in the 24th minute when Ceirion Humphries finished off an impressive drive from a line-out.
Five minutes later, Argaum got a second with scrum-half Chris Perkins getting over on the left and Jake Turfrey converted to make it 12-0, which was how it stayed until the second half.
Techs came out flying for the second period. They missed a penalty on 47 minutes but continue to press and eventually full-back Tom Ryan scored a great try under the posts. After good play from Jack Courtney and Paul Beckwith, Ryan cleverly chipped the ball over the last man and regathered to score. He also added the conversion.
Both sides knew that whoever scored next would probably win the game and it was not until the 71st minute that another score came – and it was Argaum who got it.
Techs, who had impressed at the set-piece, lost a line-out in their own half and Argaum attacked quickly from the turnover. They went across the park and centre Craig Meleady did brilliantly to slip through two tackles and score in the left corner.
In the final minute, Turfrey added a penalty to put the gloss on the win.
Devon under-20 full-back Fred Smale scored a hat-trick of tries as OPMs turned on the style second half to beat struggling Totnes 52-12 at King George V Playing Fields.
OPMs were only 7-0 up at half-time with Smale scoring their only points in the first half.
But, despite going down to 14 men, OPMs ran riot after the interval scoring seven more tries.
As well as Smale, Lewis King (2), Chris Harmer, Corbin Turner and James Robinson also touched down for tries.
“They (Totnes) turned up with just 15 but in the first half they did really well.
“They had the wind at their backs and they just picked and drove and they did really well. There was one passage of play where they kept the ball for 14 phases.
“We were only 7-0 up at half-time but second half we just cut through them really.
“I was a bit disappointed we conceded two tries – one was very soft. But we are training on astro and we are just not used to low contact so we are going in far too high and they had some big lads that just bounced off.
“But it’s nice to get another win after those three very narrow defeats (against Tamar Saracens, South Molton and Salcombe).”
Meanwhile, Plympton Victoria enjoyed a 26-17 friendly win over Plymstock Albion Oaks on Saturday.
Jordan Blair scored twice for Plym Vic, who also had Dan Warne and Martin Hough scoring.
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