REGIONAL ONE SOUTH WEST
RICHARD WEST kicked a penalty with the last play of the game to secure Devonport Services a narrow 18-15 win against Devon rivals Exmouth at the Rectory on Saturday in Regional One South West.
Third-placed Services had been 15-10 down with three minutes to play but scored a late try and then kicked a match-winning penalty.
But the outcome would almost certainly have been different had Exmouth kicked a penalty just seconds before West’s last-gasp effort.
However, the visitors agonisingly hit the post with their match-winning attempt and Services back Rhys Williams gathered the ball and booted it deep down field where Exmouth got into trouble and gave away the penalty that proved decisive.
It was certainly a thrilling and chaotic ending to a game where Services did not really hit top form.
“We did not play well,” admitted Services team manager Kieran Leach. “They had a great defensive day – every time we took the ball to the line they hit us back.
“It was a stop-start affair and we just could not get any momentum.”
Leach admitted the players’ overwhelming feeling on the final whistle was ‘relief’ as they knew they had got the win despite not playing well.
Services, with the likes of James Hocking, Liam Jarvis, Shaun Crawford, Toby Knowles and Luke Stannard all unavailable, did actually make a good start to the first league meeting between the sides for 22 years.
They went in front after just 12 minutes when Royal Navy player Williams scored a good try after Services had taken a ball against the head at a scrum. Kieran Down added the conversion to put his side 7-0 up.
With conditions tricky, both teams were using the boot to try and gain territory and force their opponents into mistakes.
Exmouth were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes in the 28th minute when prop Jack Madge was yellow carded, but the visitors actually scored while a man down.
After Services had been penalised, Exmouth went for the corner and after a couple of phases, winger James Clarke went over and George Meadows added the conversion to level the contest.
Exmouth then got a controversial penalty at a scrum, which Meadows put over to give his side a 10-7 half-time lead.
Early in the second half Services tried their best to force themselves through Exmouth’s defensive line but the visitors kept repelling them.
And, in the 52nd minute, Exmouth increased their lead when centre Nick Headley beat two Services players to a kick through to score and make it 15-7.
Down did kick a penalty to reduce the gap to five points, before prop Greg Thomas scored in the corner in the 77th minute to level the match.
It did look like Exmouth were going to win when they got a penalty in the dying seconds. The kick looked like it was going over but just swerved at the last second and hit the post, allowing Services one last opportunity that they gratefully took.
Ivybridge’s wait for an away win goes on after they went down 44-27 to Launceston at Polson Bridge on Saturday.
The visitors were in the game right up until the final few minutes but the Cornish All Blacks sealed the game with two late tries.
Frustratingly for Ivybridge, they did not even return from their short trip over the Tamar with a bonus point as they only scored three tries courtesy of winger Charlie Groves, full-back Ben Scott and flanker Jake Gaskin.
“We had opportunity towards the end to get a bonus point try and move to within seven points but it just didn’t work out for us,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony.
On the game, he added: “I think it was exactly as we were expecting, to be honest.
“We were fully aware of how big of a task it was going to be for us to go to Polson and get a win.
“The weather obviously did play a part in the game, but we were in it for a long period of time and we felt up until about five minute to go that there were still opportunities for us to win that game.
“They played extremely well and played the conditions extremely well, so hats off to Launceston. They had a game plan and they stuck to it.
“But there are positives for us to take forward and a few work-ons.
“I think the guys are pretty disappointed, but once the dust settles and we reflect, I think it is important we take the positives that were there and we move into a pretty tasty week.”
That ‘tasty week’ involves their second team travelling to the Rectory on Friday night to take on Devonport Services II in Counties Two Devon before the first teams meet in a league game for the first time in more than eight years at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
REGIONAL ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks have fallen into the bottom four of Western West after suffering another heavy away defeat.
Oaks went down 43-17 away at Devon rivals Bideford, who have moved up to fifth courtesy of the victory.
After winning three of their first five games following promotion, Oaks have now lost their last four and have still not managed a victory on their travels.
And fixtures are not going to get any easier for them in the coming weeks with games against the Pirates Amateurs, Wiveliscombe and Kingsbridge to come in their next three league fixtures.
Oaks do know how to score tries and only the top four sides have scored more points than them, but they have the third leakiest defence which is proving their undoing.
They did get three tries at Bideford, but frustratingly missed out on the bonus point.
Aiden Taylor, who started at number eight instead of at hooker on Saturday, continued his record of scoring in every match this season with another at Bideford. Oaks’ other tries came from Corey Jamieson and Matt Jackson, with Pete Keanie kicking one conversion.
TAVISTOCK remain at the top of Counties Two Devon after securing a hard-earned 17-8 win over Barnstaple II in tough conditions at Sandy Park.
But Honiton, who they play away at the end of this month, are now putting them under a bit of pressure at the top after they moved to within four points with a 34-15 win over South Molton.
Tavistock, missing a number of players on Saturday, led 7-3 at half-time against Barnstaple thanks to an Ethan Lamerton try, which George Hillson converted.
Hillson, who again started at fly-half instead of scrum-half, then kicked a penalty after the interval to make it 10-3.
Tavistock crucially went two scores ahead when winger George Cole scored a converted try from 30 metres after good play by Toby Teague and Jake Le Gassick.
Barnstaple did score with 10 minutes to go, but Tavistock did not let them build on that.
“If you look at the scoreline you would think it was a dour affair, but actually it was anything but,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“There was a fair bit of last-ditch defence from both sides so on another day, possibly if it had been dry, it would have been a high-scoring affair.”
He added: “We sort of made mistakes when we were getting on top.
“The first half when we got into their 22 we just made silly, unforced errors, like knock-on in contact.
“We had spoken about that pre-match because it was pretty wet and horrible first half but at the same time both sides were trying to play the ball around the pitch rather than sticking to a nine-man rugby game.
“On the whole it was pretty good for us as we gutted it out.
“You probably want games to be like that and not some of the scores we have had in other fixtures.
“They (Barnstaple) are a decent side. Every time it looked like we might get on top of them, they forced us into errors.
“We were making errors ourselves and a few times in hindsight we should have done something different, but we’ll learn from it,” added Caddy was full of praise for flanker Teague and young scrum-half Charles Bowden.
Ivybridge II narrowly lost 26-24 at home to third-placed Torquay Athletic.
The Bridgers did actually out-score Torquay three tries to two, but the impressive boot of Lewis Crocker edged the match for the visitors.
Crocker ended up with kicking four penalties and two conversions.
Ivybridge were 14-10 up at half-time thanks to tries by Giles Clarke and Mark Hardie, both converted by Luke Martell.
Hardie scored another try after the interval, which Martell converted. Martell also added a penalty but it was not enough.
Torquay’s tries came from winger Tom Drake in the first half and then from recent signing Joel Armitage in the second.
Meanwhile, an under-strength Devonport Services II side were beaten 31-0 away at fourth-placed Withycombe.
Services had 39 players unavailable across all their senior squads and so their second team looked completely different to the one that had beaten Exmouth II and Torquay in their last two games.
Withycombe were 16-0 up at half-time with a try from Joe Blythe and 11 points from the boot of Harry Symons. After the interval George Doughty, Callum Tose and another from Blythe secured Withycombe the full five points.
There was frustration in Counties Two Cornwall where the top-of-the-table clash between St Ives and Saltash was postponed as there was no available referee.
The official that was supposed to take charge of the big fixture was ill and no replacement could be found, despite other games getting called off in the league.
The fixture has now been rearranged for November 19, which was when Saltash had been due to play Plymouth Argaum in the Lockie Cup.
Liskeard-Looe’s match away at Camborne School of Mines was also postponed on Saturday. That was because of a waterlogged pitch. Bodmin’s match against Redruth II was also postponed with the Reds struggling to get a side out.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
DAVE CLACK scored a try 10 minutes from time against his former club to help Plymouth Argaum to a narrow 11-7 victory over Old Techs at Weston Mill on Saturday.
The match was always going to be a tight affair as both teams had almost identical records going into the fixture and recent games between the two have always been close.
It was a contest that could have gone either way and it was a shame conditions played such a big part in the game and prevented any real free-flowing rugby.
Both teams actually played better against the wind, with Techs edging the first half and Argaum the second.
Argaum head coach Dean Avery had said at the start of the season that he did not intend to play, but he came on in the second half at Weston Mill when his team were trailing 7-6 and had a big impact on the contest. He got Argaum’s line-out, which had struggled to function all game, going and made his presence felt in the scrums and mauls.
“We did have a good second half,” said Avery afterwards. “We played with the wind first half but we were down at half-time.
“They (Techs) are a good outfit. I think they are the best side we have played this season.
“For us we have come on the road and beaten a decent side and got a win, which is such a positive, but there’s still so many things to work on.”
He added: “We had two drop out in the morning, hence why I ended playing when I don’t want to be playing.”
Techs head coach Dean Oram said it was a good contest, but he was slightly disappointed with his side’s second half display.
“It could have gone either way and it was a really good contest, like we knew it was going to be,” said Oram.
“I think they maybe just played a little bit smarter than us in the second half.
“We had tactics in place to implement a game-plan in the second half when we had the advantage with the wind, but we didn’t really come out second half and get it going.
“There’s definitely things for the training park. We need to look at how we are kicking, where we are kicking and when and be a bit more organised with it. I think we expected that all we had to do was kick the ball into their half in the second half.
“But we’ll learn from it. It’s not about winning every week for us, it is about learning and building a squad. We are on our own journey.”
He added: “The first half was very positive – everything went to plan first half – but then we came out with a different game-plan due to the conditions and the game-plan didn’t work. We need to look at it and look at what didn’t work and hopefully put it right for next week.”
It was certainly a game where neither side gave an inch and there was plenty of noise from the sidelines to ramp the derby battle up.
The game was only 11 minutes old when Techs hooker Steve Wilkinson was yellow carded and Argaum pressed from a number of scrums. Tom Holliday thought he had scored in the 16th minute but the referee ruled he had been held up.
Techs, still missing their 29 Commando players, then had some good possession but could not get into the 22, while Argaum then had a chance but were pulled back for a forward pass.
The game was littered with knock-on and mistakes as the conditions played their part. But as the first half went on, Techs got on top a little bit, with Argaum struggling with their line-out and fielding kicks, although their defence was good.
Techs missed a penalty on 31 minutes but then took the lead four minutes later when they were awarded a penalty try. After some good pressure on the line, they got a penalty which Billy Evans took quickly with the try line just metres away. However, Holliday caught him high and the referee also said he had not retreated far enough and so award both the penalty try and yellow carded the Argaum forward.
But, despite being a man down, Argaum crucially cut the gap to just one point at the break with two late Jake Turfrey penalties, which proved decisive in the end.
And the second half really belonged to Argaum, with Techs not able to really get any decent territory.
Avery came inches away from scoring just seconds after coming on to the field and then Argaum really put Techs under pressure at a number of scrums and also used their pick-and-go game to good effect.
It was from a pick-and-go that Clack forced his way over in the 70th minute for what proved to a match-winning try.
There was a bit of controversy at the try as both club touch-judges but their flags up that the conversion had gone over but the referee overruled them. Fortunately, that did not make a difference in the end as Techs were unable to get a late try.
The win has moved Argaum up to third in the table, while Techs have dropped down to sixth, but there is only nine points separately the top six sides.
Tamar Saracens have moved up to second after they beat struggling Dartmouth 33-0 away on Saturday.
It was the first game Sarries had played for a month and they eased to victory despite been a bit short on numbers.
“It was just good to get back playing,” said Tamar Saracens’ director of rugby Pete Lethbridge. “It was nice for the boys to get a game and overall it was a good performance in atrocious conditions.”
Playing against the wind and rain, Sarries went 14-0 up at half-time.
Scrum-half Rikki Brandham got them off the mark with an early try under the posts after a darting run and Lewis Swatton added the conversion.
They then added a second try thanks to some good backs play with centre Reece Boase going over after cutting a good line. Swatton again converted.
After the interval, Ryan Deacon, back after injury, scored a great long range try down the wing, which Swatton again converted.
Swatton then scored two tries himself – the first in the corner and then the second from a great backs move.
In the same division, Plymstock Albion Oaks had another tough afternoon as they were beaten 61-8 at home by Salcombe, who ran in nine tries.
OPMs maintained their lead at the top of Devon East with a 24-0 win at struggling Buckfastleigh.
The match went ahead under the RFU’s game-on principles and OPMs had the bonus point in the bag by the 42nd minute.
The game, though, was ended early after a Buckfastleigh player suffered a neck injury and an ambulance was called.
Full-back Fred Smale had given OPMs the lead in the 17th minute with a try before the visitors scored twice in the final couple of minutes of the half.
First, Pete Regan crossed the whitewash and Smale converted, and then Alex Jewell touched down for OPMs’ third of the afternoon, which again Smale converted.
Then straight after the interval, Jewell got a second try, but that was to be the last bit of scoring before the game ended early.
OPMs are five points clear at the top of the division, but they now face title-challengers Crediton II and Cullompton II in their next two league games.
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria found leaders Kingsbridge just a bit too strong away from home, going down 32-14.
It was Plym Vic’s first defeat in four league games, but they felt there were plenty of positives from their trip to High House.
“They were quite mob-handed on their bench and we only had two replacements and so we just ran out of steam a bit,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt.
“But we found out after the match that no-one else had scored two tries against them this season. And with a little bit better decision-making and maybe on a day where it was not hammering it down with rain, then we might have had a couple more.
“The lads acquitted themselves really well. We were quite impressed with our performance although maybe we just hoped for a bit more, but Kingsbridge are a really good, well-drilled side.”
Jordan Blair and Joe Spencer scored Plym Vic’s tries, with Blair kicking two conversions.
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