REGIONAL ONE SOUTH WEST
DEVONPORT Services claimed a second Devon derby win within the space of seven days as they overcame Okehampton 21-7 in tricky conditions at the Showground.
Saturday’s success followed on from a 37-18 victory over Brixham at the Rectory the week before.
Services have won three of their opening four games since their promotion to Regional One South West and two of those victories have come on their travels.
“I’m very happy with the start we’ve made,” said head coach Ben Russell.
“We have Camborne at home next and they won again so that one will be a nice one to see where we are at.”
Russell admitted his side got lucky with the elements at the Showground. They played uphill and against the wind first half before conditions turned for the worse second half, with the arrival of heavy rain.
Chances were few and far between in the opening 30 minutes as both teams sounded each other out.
But in the 33rd minute, Services made the breakthrough when centre Tom Richards scored after some intense pressure and Richard West converted.
However, five minutes later, Okehampton levelled with a converted try by number eight Tom McGratton from the back of a five-metre scrum.
With the elements in their favour second half, Services kept their hosts pinned in their half and midway through the second period they went back in front when centre Shaun Crawford scored his first league try for the club since joining in the summer from Launceston. West converted.
And, eight minutes later, they got a third try when captain Matt Gregory scored from a scrum, which was an area Services dominated.
The visitors, really impressing in the set-piece, had chances near the end to get a fourth try but somehow Okehampton managed to keep them out, despite having a player sin-binned.
“We probably should have come away with the bonus point as well, but a win is a win and I’m very happy,” said Russell.
“The boys said it’s a tough place to go and not many teams go there and win. They mentioned that they got well beaten the last time they went up there in the league.
“And it was tough and it was proper battle – no-one gave an inch.”
He added: “To be fair, we picked the right way to play first half. We were uphill against the wind, but second half the heavens opened and we didn’t really let them get out of their half. The boys controlled it really well second half.”
Russell was particularly pleased with the way his side scrummed at Okehampton and with the strength in depth his side have shown in recent weeks.
On Saturday, they had a number of players unavailable due to injury, including Matt Neyle, Luke Stannard, Toby Knowles, Tyler Busfield, Mike Hunt, Greg Thomas, James McFarlane and Mark Friend, who have all featured in the first team this season.
City student Tom Davies did finally make his debut for Services, having been called up for Plymouth Albion the previous week.
Ivybridge had an afternoon to forget as they were beaten 78-18 away at title-favourites Camborne.
The under-strength Bridgers, who were once again forced to make late changes to their side due to illness, actually started well and took the lead with a try by Marcus Prout.
With Matt Grieveson converting that and kicking a couple of penalties they were only one point behind after 26 minutes.
But two quick tries before half-time gave Camborne a 28-13 lead at the break and then they ran away with the game in the second period. Ben Collins did get a late score for Ivybridge, but it was little consolation.
Camborne strengthened their squad in the summer with a number of high-profile signings, including last season’s Cornish Pirates captain Nicolas de Battista, who featured at centre on Saturday.
Jordan Nicholls and Ben Priddey both scored hat-tricks for Camborne, with their other tries coming from Rob Gurnett, Connor Gilbert, Jack Davis, Jordan Rose, Jago Sheppard and Harry Larkins.
“All credit to Camborne, they played some really good stuff,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony.
“I think they are up at the top of the league now and I think they will be there or there abouts.
“Our guys really stepped up for the first 20 minutes. We were really pleased with that first 20-25 minutes. Our intensity was a lot better than last week, especially defensively.
“It might have only been a short period of time but we really felt we were in the game and felt that we could take them on.
“But, full credit to Camborne, they really ground us down and took their opportunities fantastically well and the floodgates opened second half.
“We had quite a few late changes, which is very difficult to deal with. Consistency is key in this league and unfortunately for the last couple of weeks for whatever reason we have not had that consistency.
“But we’ll go back and train hard on Wednesday and Thursday.
“We have to try and analysis that performance and see where we are going to get better.
“What we are going to focus on is our reaction to a big, heavy defeat. We know that is not good enough for the Ivybridge shirt and we need to be better and I’m sure we will be. There are some great guys in the squad that will carry us through this tough spell.
“We just need a bit of consistency, which we haven’t had for the past couple of weeks, which is frustrating.”
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks maintained their unbeaten home record in Western West with a 47-21 victory over old rivals Bude at Horsham Fields.
Oaks have picked up an impressive 14 points from a possible 15 at home since their unexpected promotion, but they haven’t yet picked up a single point on their travels.
Despite playing uphill first half, they made a great start on Saturday with four tries in the opening 20 minutes, but Bude came back and scored three tries to make the half-time score 28-21.
Oaks, though, started the second half fast with three quick tries that put the game beyond their north Cornwall visitors.
“We scored four tries in the first 20 minutes, but then let them back into the game,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“Second half we scored three quick tries and then defended really well. Second half they didn’t score at all so we didn’t give them a bonus point.
“We have got 14 out of 15 points at home, so we are doing really well at home.
“If we had won last week (away at Penryn) we potentially could have been third in the league table. As it is we are joint fifth and we will take that. That is massive for us.
“If you look at the league table it is very up and down.
“But looking at it now, I am pretty confident we will stay up if we keep doing what we are doing, and that’s the main target.”
Taylor managed to get his seventh try of the season on Saturday. There was also two for Corey Jamieson, while Alex Chapman, Duncan Bibby, Jack Welch and Scott Williams also touched down, with Pete Keanie having a good day with the boot by adding six out of seven conversions.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
CLUB captain Jay Moriarty scored four second half tries as leaders Saltash continued their impressive start to the season with a 62-0 home win over neighbours Liskeard-Looe on Saturday.
However, the Ashes’ fifth big win of the season was not quite as easy as it seemed.
They struggled to get any flow in the first half down the hill. Liskeard-Looe battled hard and Saltash found decisions going against them in a stop-start opening 40 minutes.
The Ashes did get three tries in the opening 21 minutes but then had to wait until first-half injury time to get the all-important fourth and go in at the break 24-0 up.
The second half, though, was totally dominated by Saltash and they scored some impressive tries through their quick backs.
“The game didn’t really get going first half,” said Saltash head coach Steve Down. “We scored two really quick scores, but then it became a really scrappy game. Although we were 19-0 up it still felt like we were in a game.
“But second half, once the game opened up and started to flow a bit better, we got some shape and scored some really good tries with our backs.
“There are still areas to work on. We left some points out there, but we’ll be happy with that win and look forward to a rest week.”
He added: “This week we were forced into quite a lot of changes. It’s good in one way as it tests the strength of the squad and it showed we could execute a good game with different faces. I was really pleased with that.”
Saltash have scored more than 50 points in all of their five games so far. In total they have bagged 315 points in five weeks and only conceded 32.
They know there will be much tougher tests ahead with games still to come against Veor, St Ives, Redruth II and St Austell II.
And at the moment they are trying to make sure they make training intense for the players to help prepare them for those games.
“No disrespect to anyone who have played so far, but we are putting a lot of pressure on ourselves in training,” said Down. “We had 35 players at training on Thursday night and so we had a live game and played hard against each other and give them bad decisions on the refereeing side to test their patience.”
Saltash made a good start on Saturday and full-back Ryan Cruickshanks opened the scoring in the seventh minute when he ran in under the posts after good play from a line-out.
Two minutes later, Ryan Rayner added a second after a great run down the right wing by Will Morton.
Cruickshanks converted both early tries to give the Ashes a 14-0 lead.
Liskeard then put them under some intense pressure and they were reduced to 14 men with a yellow for prop Adam Coutts.
However, Saltash defended really well and, despite having a man less, increased their lead with a fine try down the right by winger Morton after good play from a line-out on the left.
But after that the game lost its way, with stoppage after stoppage and penalty after penalty.
It did not look like Saltash were going to get the bonus point before the break, but eight minutes into injury-time they did get it when Nick Blake, who came into the team late at fly-half after Lewis Stuart had to drop out, scored a great try under the posts after Phil Eatwell and Moriarty had done well returning a Liskeard clearing kick.
And once Saltash, who brought on former youth player Jack Mills for his debut, got a fifth try in the 50th minute, the floodgates opened.
Moriarty got them off the mark in the second period before Cruickshanks finished off a great team try.
Moriarty then scored two quick tries for his hat-trick before Blake got a second and then Moriarty finished off the scoring after another quick counterattack after a turnover.
Saltash also got a second team and a colts side out at home on Saturday.
Their colts set-up was celebrating their 50th anniversary and they played Penzance-Newlyn on the main pitch before the league game.
Saltash colts dominated the opening 20 minutes but only had one penalty to show for their efforts after some heroic defence by Penzance.
The visitors scored a try on their first visit to Saltash’s 22 but then another penalty edged the young hosts back in front. The Pirates, though, scored a second try just before half-time to take a 10-6 lead.
Saltash cut that gap to 10-9 with another penalty before the visitors went 24-9 ahead. The young Ashes kept going and they got the try they deserved 10 minutes before the end. They tried to add to it but Penzance did defend well.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
GEORGE HILLSON scored four tries once again for Counties Two Devon leaders Tavistock as they continued their 100 per cent start to the season with a 34-15 win at second-placed Torquay Athletic.
Tavistock’s influential scrum-half had also scored four against Brixham II two weeks ago and also hat-tricks against North Tawton and Exmouth II. He has now scored 15 tries in just five games this season.
Torquay just gave him too much space and he took advantage to help the club to a crucial victory.
Tavistock were without a host of players for the trip to the previously unbeaten south Devon side and the first half was tight.
Tavistock were only 19-15 up at the break, but they pulled away in the second period to pick up another five points and open up a six-point lead at the top of the standings.
Head coach Joel Caddy knows his side will be the team to beat now, but he says his players are relishing that.
“It’s better to be the team to beat than the team that can’t win,” he said.
“I think the lads are relishing the challenge – well, I hope they are.
“We just hope the next five games go the same way as the first five. If they go the opposite way, everyone will be thinking that the start of the season was just an Indian summer.
“We know we can’t get ahead of ourselves as we are only a quarter of the way through the season.”
On Saturday’s victory, Caddy said: “Torquay put us under some pressure, but we gutted it out.
“It was a lot closer game than we have had the previous two weeks and it was an entertaining match.
“They did make us work hard for it. It will be interesting next week as we have them in the cup at our place.”
On Hillson’s try scoring form, Caddy added: “It’s easy for people to say ‘yeah, you’re a one-man team’, but if players outside him are offering a threat, then the opposition players are in half-a-mind of who they are looking at. And if you do give George half a gap, then he is gone.”
Hillson has had to play with three different half-back partners in the last three weeks.
Chris Watts stepped in at 10 this week, while there was a debut for Jonny Harris at hooker with Hammy Kerswill unavailable.
Tavistock did have to make a lot of changes to their side this week.
“I think we had 24 players unavailable across the two teams,” said Caddy.
“If we can actually field the same team several weeks on the trot it would be interesting to see what we could do.
“We are just lucky we have a lot of players and have not picked up too many long-term injuries, but we know that could change.”
Jake Le Gassick and George Cole also scored tries for Tavistock, with Hillson kicking two conversions.
There were home wins for Devonport Services II and Ivybridge II in the same division.
Services II edged out their Brixham counterparts 24-22 in a thriller at the Rectory.
Both teams scored three tries and a penalty but just one extra conversion proved the difference.
Liam Williams, Sam Winfield and John Mason touched down for Services, with Matt Richards converting them all and adding a penalty.
Brixham had Scott Pearce, Sam Bullock and Brad McKee scoring tries, with McKee, who had played against Services’ first team the week before at the Rectory, kicking two conversions and a penalty.
Ivybridge II enjoyed a 41-22 home win over North Tawton at Cross-in-Hand.
Matt Dayment and Gwydian Jenkins scored tries in the first half for Ivybridge that were converted by Luke Martell.
Dayment added another in the second period to go with other touch-downs from Simon Danbury, Sam Wilmington and Jake Neville. Martell finished the day with four conversions and a penalty.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON
TAMAR Saracens and Old Techs both scored 59 points away from home in Counties Three Devon West on Saturday.
League leader Saracens triumphed 59-10 at Totnes, while Techs won 59-14 at Dartmouth.
Sarries have played one more game than some of their rivals but they now have an eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Flanker Jordan Maddocks scored a hat-trick of tries for them away at Totnes.
Hooker Matt Trortter and winger Ryan Currie scored early tries for Sarries, which were both converted by Lewis Swatton, before Maddocks got his first.
Maddocks then scored a second just before half-time to give them a 26-0 lead, but Totnes instantly replied to make the score at the break 26-5.
Second half, Joey Pook bagged a couple of tries before Jacob Blasdale and Reece Boase crossed. Maddocks then completed Sarries’ scoring.
“It could have been a sticky game as Totnes did put up a fight,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge.
“We were a little bit flat, even though the boys did perform well.
“Overall, though, it was a really good performance. Scrummaging went well and our line-outs were better this week.
“We picked up a few silly injuries, but we had enough into the tank.
“Totnes are a bit of a bogey side for us. They have a young side there and I think if they stick together they will be good.”
Techs were delighted with their 59-14 victory at Dartmouth, which followed on from a big 66-21 victory over Teignmouth II.
“It was a decent win, especially as we had to make quite a few changes. We only had two of the backs that played against Teignmouth,” said chairman David Evans.
“We did have some boys back, but I think this time we do have a better strength in depth so that when we haven’t got people available we do have people who are not too dissimilar that can come in and take their places.
“We scored 66 points last week and 59 this so people are going to be looking now.
“But we will take it game by game and we won’t get carried away by our performances.
“We are not the finished item yet, but I definitely think we are improving. The coaching of Dean Oram and Ronnie Hannaford is starting to come to fruition.”
Techs went 38-0 up but Dartmouth scored just before and after half-time to cut the gap to 38-14 before Techs pulled away again.
“We had a lull of about 15 or 20 minutes,” said Evans. “We had been 38-0 up and I think then we just switched off for a bit and they scored just before half-time and then they scored a breakaway try in the second half to make 38-14. But then we said ‘come on, let’s sort this out’ and then we scored three unanswered tries.”
Centre Ben Hockey bagged two tries for Techs, with full-back Joel Dickin, winger Joe Schoner, fly-half Tom Ryan, hooker Steve Wilkinson, lock James Douglas and back Ben Lynch also crossing.
Plymstock Albion Oaks II’s game with Paignton II was abandoned due to a neck injury suffered by a Paignton player.
Plymouth Argaum were without a game in Devon West this week.
In Devon East, OPMs made it three wins out of three with a 26-17 home victory over Okehampton II.
Okehampton had gone in front with an early converted try from prop Jack Hampson, but OPMs hit back and went in 19-7 in front at half-time.
Summer signing Kallan Malone got the hosts off the mark with a try on seven minutes, which Fred Smale converted.
Eight minutes later, OPMs go a second try courtesy of prop Joe Russell.
Midway through the half, it got better for the Old Boys with captain Billy Garratt crossing the whitewash for his first of the season. Smale converted that one.
Eleven minutes after the interval, teenage fly-half Matt Smale secured OPMs the try-scoring bonus point and his older brother added the conversion.
Okehampton did finish strongly with late tries by Leon Biaggi and Ashley Poynton but it was not enough to rescue any points from their trip to Plymouth.
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