IT MIGHT not have been particularly thrilling, but Devonport Services bagged another home win on Saturday in Regional One South West by seeing off bottom side Drybrook 19-13.
Services were actually 19-3 up with 80 minutes on the clock, but their Gloucestershire visitors scored two tries in two injury-time minutes to pick up a valuable losing bonus point.
It certainly was not a game that will live long in the memory of anyone who was there watching, but it was another four points for injury-hit Services and keeps them pushing for a top four finish in their first season at level five.
“I’m happy because it’s a win,” said Devonport head coach Ben Russell, whose side had narrowly beaten Weston-super-Mare at home the previous week. “But obviously there is a lot to work on.
“We have grafted. We’ve not played very well first half – we’ve kicked too much and haven’t played enough – but then we’ve played a lot better at the start of the second half and we’ve found more space.
“I thought the front-row were outstanding as they had to play the full 80 as we have a lot of injuries there.
“But we’ve just chosen the wrong options at the wrong times during the game. We should have run and got the ball into width instead of kicking it, then should have kicked it when we’ve tried to run or we’ve made lovely breaks but instead of just keeping hold of the ball, we’ve tried to throw an offload and dropped it.
“We have been talking about it and it is getting better, but we just need to keep hammering the point because when we keep the ball we look lethal.”
The win, though, did come at a cost to Services with Oli Mulberry, Liam Jarvis and Matt Richards all going off with injuries. Mulberry’s particularly looked serious and with Dylan Daley also injured, it meant Devonport had to finish the game without a specialist nine.
As well as Dylan Daley, Services were also missing the likes of Greg Thomas, Rikki Bentham, Sam Bennett, Joe Daley, James Hocking, Mike Hunt and Rhys Williams on Saturday.
With four regular front-rowers out, it meant former Liskeard-Looe prop Sam Winfield, ex-Oaks hooker Aiden Taylor and youngster Oli Symons started and played the full 80 minutes against Drybrook.
Services got off to a good start and looked dangerous in the first 10 minutes and went 6-0 up with two Kieran Down penalties.
But then the hosts lost their way and the game became like kick-tennis with both sides almost scared to run it.
Drybrook cut the gap with a penalty by Thomas Treherne on 17 minutes after they had been held up over the line a minute earlier.
Services did defend their line well for most of the match and just on the stroke of half-time they did get another penalty that Down kicked to give them a 9-3 half-time lead.
Straight at the start of the second period, the former Saltash player kicker another three-pointer to put his side nine points ahead.
Drybrook missed a penalty of their own before Tom Davies, who was Services’ most dangerous player, brought some excitement to the contest with a 70-metre run down the right. He was eventually stopped illegally and Drybrook did have flanker Bailey Watts yellow carded.
Services went for the corner and then got another penalty almost in front of the posts. Instead of going for the kick, the opted for a five-metre scrum but eventually got turned over.
However, Davies finally got the try he threatened in the 63th minute when he burst through under the posts after Services went wide from a catch-and-drive move on the right. Down converted that try to make it 19-3.
Services supporters probably hoped that might open up the floodgates, but it didn’t happen and Drybrook, with their pack getting on top in the closing stages, finished strongly with tries by Kyle Frowen and Calan Williams securing them a bonus.
Fifth-placed Ivybridge suffered another unhappy trip to Okehampton’s Showground on Saturday as they lost 41-25.
It was the fourth time in a row Ivybridge have lost at the venue – and the second time this season, having also been narrowly beaten in a Devon Cup game in October.
Having gone 31-10 down, Ivybridge did come back and going into the final four minutes they had cut Okehampton’s lead to just six points at 31-25.
But an injury-time penalty and try secured Okehampton the victory and moves them out of the bottom three.
“It was really disappointing,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “We just felt we didn’t really show a true reflection of an Ivybridge team.
“We didn’t have the best of starts, going two scores down and we were always chasing the game then.
“And when you are chasing the game, sometimes you try and chase it too hard almost. You are desperately trying to get points on the board and sometimes that becomes a negative. I think certainly at times that occurred in our game and caused uncharacteristic decisions and mistakes.
“But we did really well after half-time to come back into it and get ourselves in a position to win the game. We played up the hill second half so that was a real big effort from the guys. We got it to 31-25 and it was all to play for.
“It is just such a shame that the bounce of the ball and a decision here or there went against us.
“Full credit to Okehampton, they rattled in two scores at the end and they worked hard for those. They are quite a force and we knew what they would bring and they certainly brought that.
“But, like I said, the most disappointing thing we felt was that we didn’t show a true reflection of an Ivybridge team for whatever reason.”
He added: “We were really confident going into the game. We have shown really good progress, which we are pleased with. We felt we should have won against the top three sides at home. Although we didn’t get the results we took good confidence from those games, but we just weren’t the Ivybridge side that we have been of late.”
Okehampton took the lead in the 17th minute when experienced scrum-half Richard Bolt touched down and Dan Fogerty converted.
They then doubled their lead when Saul Holliday scored a converted try from a catch-and-drive move.
With four minutes of the half to go, Ivybridge got back into it when Kristian Davis scored from a well-worked scrum move. Matt Grieveson converted to make it 14-7.
But on the stroke of half-time, Okehampton went 21-7 ahead with another catch-and-drive move.
After the interval, Grieveson and Fogerty traded penalties before Leon Horn scored a fourth try for Okehampton to make it 31-10.
However, then Ivybridge got into their flow and put Okehampton under some real pressure. Grieveson kicked another penalty as the hosts picked up a yellow card before James McFarlane scored from closed range to make it 31-18.
And it got better for the Bridgers with Will Peakman crossing for a third to make it a one score game.
But Ivybridge could not quite achieve a remarkable comeback as a late penalty took the game away from them and then Okehampton scored in the dying seconds.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks have dropped into the bottom three in Western West after a 74-14 defeat at title-chasing Topsham.
Topsham scored 12 tries to Oaks’ two and have moved level on points with leaders Cullompton.
Both Plymstock’s tries came in the second half, with Alex Chapman and Lewis Paterson crossing the whitewash, but the visitors just had no answer to Topsham’s pack.
“It was a tough afternoon,” admitted Oaks team manager Mark Lenthall.
“We had some drop-outs in the front-row and we didn’t have a hooker and so we did not win any set-pieces.
“In open play we were fine, but every time we had a scrum or line-out we conceded a penalty.
“We had a reasonable side out but without any set-piece it is hard to do anything.
“But we fulfilled the fixture and did not go to uncontested scrums. A couple of lads stepped in and fair play to them.
“If we could get good availability then I think we would comfortably be mid-table.”
Oaks have got four games left – at home to Bideford, away to Pirates Amateurs, at home to Wiveliscombe and away to winless Falmouth – to pull clear of the drop zone.
Topsham’s scorers were Ethan Barnaschone (2), Joe Cave (2), Robin Edbrooke (2), Henry Batty, Lewis Webb, George Holwill, Aled Rosser, Marcus Cottle and Tom Oxlands.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
THREE wins from their final five games will definitely be enough now for Tavistock to claim the Counties Two Devon title.
They might not even need that many, if second-placed Torquay slip up in any of their remaining fixtures.
Tavistock took another giant step towards the title with a 46-24 away victory at fifth-placed Ivybridge II on Saturday.
The match at Cross-in-Hand was quite tight for 60 minutes but Tavistock pulled away in the closing stages.
“It was a good game – an entertaining watch,” said Tavisock head coach Joel Caddy. “The scoreboard says we won quite convincingly but Ivybridge really made us work for it.
“In the middle part of the game there was not a lot in it.
“There was a five or 10-minute spell where they were getting on the ascendency.
“Probably their discipline at times just let them down and we won some fairly crucial turnovers at times and it stemmed the blow.
“It was a prett decent performance all-round – the lads did the business. They did what they had to do.
“Credit to Ivybridge, they threw the kitchen sink at us at times. But when push came to shove, we were more clinical at taking chances and we won some pretty important turnovers at crucial times.
“Personally, I would have settled for a 3-0 win, but that’s in our make-up to play like that.”
Tavistock are 17 points ahead of second-placed Torquay but the south Devon side do have a game in hand
“It would be 12 points if they win their game in hand with maximum points,” said Caddy.
“But we just have to keep winning.
“We are certainly not getting ahead of ourselves. You can soon lose one game and then that can become two and then three.”
Tavistock do only have one remaining home game and face tricky trips to Barnstaple II, Exeter Saracens, North Tawton and Exmouth II. Torquay, though, also have to visit Barnstaple, Exeter Saracens and Exmouth II, as well as South Molton and Honiton and play Ivybridge II.
Ivybridge II should finish in the top half of the table and they took positives out of their performance against Tavistock.
Vice-captain Ben Hooper said: “We were always in the game, but they are top of the league for a reason.
“They played some fantastic rugby and didn’t allow us to play the game we wanted to play.
“This is our first season in the league and we are always there or there abouts.
“We will take this on board and look forward to getting as high up the league table as possible.”
Tavistock went 10-0 up with a try by Joe Burbage and a conversion and penalty by the influential George Hillson, who ended the day with 21 points.
Ivybridge cut the lead with a try by George Montgomery, which Giles Clarke converted.
But Tavistock went in at half-time 17-7 in front thanks to a Martin Budden converted try.
Ivybridge started the second period well and reduced the gap to five points with a try by Hayden Coles.
However, Tavistock responded with a penalty and then a converted try by Hillson to make it 27-12.
Mark Hardie then went over for a converted try for Ivybridge before Budden got this second for the visitors.
Gwydion Jenkins scored a bonus-point try for Ivybridge as they threatened a comeback, but Tavistock finished strongly with tries by Richard Cann and Jack Rocks.
In the same division, an understrength Devonport Services II side were beaten 36-12 away at Exmouth II.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
JAMES SUTTON scored a late unconverted try to secure Saltash a 36-36 draw away at fellow high-flyers Veor on Saturday.
It was the second week running title-chasing Saltash had been forced to settle for a draw in the Heartlands region of Cornwall.
The previous week they had controversially been held by a strong Redruth II side at the Recreation Ground. Four of the team that faced Saltash in that match were in Redruth’s first team squad this weekend for their National League match against Luctonians.
Both draws will have been frustrating for Saltash, as they know they could have won both matches, but the title race is still not over.
Saltash have now visited all the top five sides, whereas leaders St Ives still have to visit Moorlands Lane and go to Veor, who are still unbeaten at home, and St Austell, who have only lost once at home – to Saltash.
The Ashes just have to make sure they beat St Ives at home which will put the pressure back on the Hakes ahead of their trips to Veor and St Austell.
Saltash had beaten Veor 70-10 at home, but the Camborne club are a totally different side on their own narrow pitch, where they use their forwards well. And Saltash did get sucked into home team’s game at times.
Veor went ahead with an early converted try, but Saltash hit back with a touch-down from Greg Eatwell four minutes later. Lewis Stuart converted that and kicked a penalty to put his side 10-7 ahead.
The game then boiled over and Veor were handed a red card and Saltash a yellow.
But that seemed to inspire the home side and they hit back with two tries to go 21-10 ahead.
>However, in an eventual match, Saltash responded with two quick tries through Devon Bennett-Murray and Jay Moriaty, both converted by Stuart, to take a 24-21 half-time lead.
It got better for Saltash after the interval as they went 31-21 in front with a try by forward Matt Coker.
But Saturday’s match had everything and just when Saltash thought they had the game won, Veor came back with two tries and a penalty to go 36-31 up.
Sutton, though, levelled the contest late on, but Saltash could not add the conversion and a tense final few minutes ensured before the referee finally blew the whistle.
In the same division, Liskeard-Looe were beaten 45-0 by second-placed St Austell II.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON
PLYMOUTH Argaum and Tamar Saracens kept up the pace at the top of Counties Three Devon West with big home wins.
Argaum triumphed 101-0 against Plymstock Albion Oaks II at Bickleigh Down, while Sarries triumphed 62-0 at home to Teignmouth II.
The pair were also helped by city rivals Old Techs beating their title rivals Topsham II 25-0 at Weston Mill.
It means Argaum stay at the top, two points ahead of second-placed Sarries, who are now three points ahead of third-placed Topsham II, who have played a game more.
Argaum are scoring points for fun at the moment and claimed the league’s biggest win of the season on Saturday, despite only playing 60 minutes.
They were 71-0 up at half-time against Oaks II, who did ask if the game could finish early once Argaum topped the 100-point mark.
“I was really, really proud of the guys by the way they conducted themselves on and off the field,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery.
“We went about our business well – we stuck to our systems for the whole 60 minutes.
“They had a full team – it’s wasn’t like they turned up with 12 – but credit to them for fulfilling the fixture.
“But when it got to 60 minutes their captain asked if we could blow please and we obviously agreed. We all want to be enjoying our rugby and it was a tough day at the office for them.
“Yeah, we could have done with more points, but it would have been the wrong thing to do to make them play the 80 minutes.”
He added: “We were also delighted to see some of the other results around the league. Old Techs did us a favour and Dartmouth beat Salcombe, which I wasn’t really surprised about as Dartmouth are a good outfit.”
Owen Gocher (3), Darren Ewers (2), Tom Holliday (2), Jack Morris (2), Chris Perkins (2), Dave Clack (2) Tom Shephard, James Green and Adam McCrohan all scored tries for Argaum.
Tamar Saracens were also happy with their performance against Teignmouth II.
They were 36-0 up at half-time and felt they produced some of their best backs moves of the season.
“We scored some cracking tries in the first half,” said director of rugby Pete Lethbridge.
“We had the bonus point within 18 minutes. Our backs really clicked.
“Second half we were slow starting but eventually clicked again. Our defence was really good and we were really clinical. It was a good performance all around.”
Marc Cioffi got Sarries off the mark in the opening few minutes before Adam Corbett crossed for their second try.
Josh Heath, Callum Perkin, Jordan Maddocks and Jack Blasdale added further tries in the first period, with Greg Parrott converting three of them.
It took them 14 minutes of the second half to get another when Joey Pook went over.
Dan Best, Joe Saniforth with a lengthy gallop down the wing and Richard Bush added further tries with Lew Swatton adding three second half conversions.
Sarries, like Argaum, were pleased to see Old Techs convincingly beating Topsham II 25-0 at Weston Mill.
“We were very happy,” said Techs chairman David Evans. “It was a good day for us.
“And we would rather do Argaum and Sarries a favour than Topsham.”
He added: “They (Topsham) came down with 20 players and they looked dangerous in the backs and had a big pack, but we just got stuck into them.
“It is hard to come to Weston Mill and beat us. We will give everyone a game.”
Techs took the lead with a Tom Ryan penalty before Billy Evans, playing a number eight, went over for a try.
It got better for Techs when Nathan Webb went over for a second try, which Ryan converted, to give them a 15-0 lead.
After the interval, Ryan kicked another penalty before he scored a try after Evans made a break from a scrum and drew in the final defender before off-loading to his team-mate.
It did look like Techs were going to bag a fourth try right at the end when Will Booth made a great break, but he was just stopped one metre from the line.
In Devon East, OPMs’ title hopes suffered a blow after conceding a last-gasp try to lose 22-19 away at Tiverton II.
The defeat means they have dropped down to second in the table, level on points with new leaders Crediton II.
Crediton II do have a game in hand on OPMs, but the Old Boys know that advantage could be wiped out if they could beat them at King George V Playing Fields on February 18.
>OPMs do have on paper the easier run in, with three of their final four matches at home.
OPMs did make a great start on their long trip to Tiverton, with Fred Smale scoring in the first minute and his younger brother Matt adding the conversion.
Tiverton reduced the gap with a penalty by Edward Ryder before Alex Jewell scored a second try for OPMs on 15 minutes.
But eight minutes before the break, Tiverton reduced the gap to 12-8 with a try by Joe Pike.
Ryder then scored a converted try afer the interval to put this hosts 15-12 ahead.
However, back came OPMs with Fred Smale bagging a second try, again converted by his brother to make it 19-15.
That looked like how it was going to end, but deep in injury-time winger Alex Butt scored a match-winning converted try to break the Old Boys’ hearts.
All pictures are low resolution and are protected by copyright so should not be used without permission.