RUGBY PREVIEWS: Services look for cup final win in Lewis’ last home match

DEVONPORT Services will be hoping home advantage will be key as they bid to claim the Devon Senior Shield for the first time on Saturday (3pm).

Services will host South West One West league rivals Crediton at the Rectory in the county final – in a match that will also be head coach’s Mike Lewis final home game.

Devonport are unbeaten at home in three years and will be favourites to lift the trophy, but they will be wary of Crediton, who they struggled against in both league games this season.

Crediton beat them 18-17 at their place before Services narrowly triumphed 16-13 at the Rectory in January – a game that went down to the very last play.

“At home we didn’t play our game-plan and played into theirs,” said Lewis.

“They had a really good defensive performance in that game and we struggled to break them down.

“So we know what to expect and we know what we have to do going forward into this weekend.

“We love playing at home and in front of our own crowd and hopefully we can live up to the expectations of the season.”

After this week’s cup match, Services will have just one more fixture – a possible title-decider away at St Austell.

Lewis knows his team have the chance to do something very special in the next seven days.

“We have two big games now,” he said. “We are obviously focusing on this one but then we have St Austell the week after (in the league). If we could win both these games then it would be the perfect end to the season.”

He added: “Previously when we got to January we have tended to slip off a bit, but his year we re-set in January and started concentrating on the basics again and rebuilding our game-plan to try and build for moments like this.

“For some of the boys that have been here for 10 years or so, it would be a fantastic end to a great season.”

Lewis, who is standing down after six years as Services head coach at the end of the season due to work and family commitments, is hoping for a big crowd on Saturday to cheer his team on.

“I’m sure they (Crediton) are going to bring a good number down,” said Lewis. “I think there might be a good 500 people here or more.

“As a club we don’t normally charge for entry but Devon RFU say we have to for this cup final game, which is a bit unfortunate as we pride ourselves on being a free club to watch. As a club we are disappointed we have to charge.”

Admission will be £5 for adults and both clubs will get a share of the gate from Devon RFU.

The last time Services reached the Devon Shield final, they narrowly lost 24-20.

Meanwhile, Devonport club secretary Fraser Pearson is hoping Lewis does get the dream ending to his six-year stint as head coach that he deserves.

“Who knows what will happen in the next two games,” said Pearson. “But I for one know that Mike Lewis has done everything he can to get us here. It is up to the players now to finish it off.”

He added: “Mike has done an excellent job in recent seasons getting us promoted to South West One West, aided by assistant player-coach Richard Goldsby-West, where we have been pushing for further promotion.

“Mike’s commitment and dedication to the cub have been second to none.”

He added: “We have offered Mike a position on the committee and we do hope to see him around this club for many years to come.”

Devonport Services, though, are not the only team in cup action this weekend.

The two Lockie Cup semi-finals will be played on Saturday, with Plymouth Argaum hosting higher league Saltash at Bickleigh Down and Tavistock welcoming lower league OPMs to Sandy Park.

The winners of the two games will meet in the final at the Rectory on Wednesday.

Tavistock and Saltash, who have both been in good form in the Cornwall/Devon League, will be favourites but neither are taking anything for granted against their Devon One opponents.

“We are definitely not taking OPMs lightly,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.

“They have some decent players. I know some of them as they have been playing for Devon U18s, so they will not be a push-over.

“I think it will be an interesting encounter.

“We are still clarifying who will be playing for us as some people are away.”

OPMs have named some of their promising colts in their team. Matt Smale will start at fly-half, while Aaron Trinder will line-up at seven, with Ethan Millard starting on the bench.

Saltash are showing Plymouth Argaum plenty of respect by naming a strong team for their trip to Bickleigh Down.

Their side is very similar to recent weeks, although they will hand a debut to Billy Dover at full-back, while Ollie Crawford could also make his debut from the bench.

Andrew Walsh is back from injury and lines up in a strong backline that also includes Will Morton, Jay Moriarty, Danny Snook, Kristian Davis and Kieran Down.

Argaum are set to welcome back key forward Dan Smith after four weeks out with concussion, but winger Justin Rowe is unavailable, while the club are waiting on the fitness of veteran Jamie Venner, who has a slight hamstring problem.

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