Gallery / Rugby

GALLERY: Argaum’s long unbeaten run is ended by a strong Newton Abbot side

COUNTIES Three Devon West leaders Plymouth Argaum suffered their first defeat since September 10 on Saturday as they were beaten 21-14 by a strong Newton Abbot II side at Rackerhayes.

It was actually Argaum’s first away defeat of the season, however, the hard-earned bonus point they picked up means they are four points clear at the top of the table with just two games to go.

But just like their title-rivals Tamar Saracens a few weeks ago, Argaum were unhappy with the amount of first team players Newton Abbot II fielded when their Regional Two South West side were not in action.

On Saturday, Corey Whane, Ed Brown, Tom Osborn, Harry Allen, Jack Sweeney, Charlie Dore and McKenzie Strath all started for the All Whites’ second string, with the highly-experienced Lloyd Radford also coming on as a replacement.

Whane, Osborn, Sweeney, Dore and Radford have all made between 15 and 19 first team appearances this season, Strath has made 12 appearances, Brown 10, while Allen has started their last three first team games and hadn’t featured for the second team before this season. 

“They had seven players who I think had played in their last six first team games and that’s wrong,” said Argaum’s head coach Dean Avery, a former Newton Abbot player. “I do think the RFU needs to look at it

“But I was really proud of our boys and I think it shows that we can play in the league above.

“It was a good test for us to see where we are, but I still think it’s wrong.”

“I don’t want to be sour because we lost. Sarries came up here and had the same, so at least that’s a leveller. But established clubs like this should not be putting out eight (first team) players.”

He added: “We tackled reasonably well, but they were always going to find holes eventually with the quality players they had.

“But we only lost 21-14 and they only got three tries so didn’t get the bonus point so I was really proud of the guys and we’re looking forward to the next two games now.

“The boys are happy with their performance and so are Jack (Hiscock) and I. It wasn’t a blip or poor performance, we were just playing a quality side, but the point we got was massive.”

Argaum, playing downhill and with the wind first half, did have the better of the opening 40 minutes and deservedly led 14-7 at the break.

They will probably feel they should have been further in front, but they just could not take all their chances.

Newton Abbot started well and were held up on the line before prop Taylor Cross managed to get over from close range and fly-half Sweeney added the extras.

But after that Argaum got into the game and they pulled level on 17 minutes when influential number eight Tom Holliday powered over from 15 metres after the visitors had tapped a penalty. With regular goalkicker Jake Turfery not available for Argaum, Billy Stockwell added the conversion.

They had a couple of further good chances before they did finally get a second try when lock Aaron Anderson-Smith burrowed over under the posts for a simple conversion for Stockwell.

Straight after half-time, Newton Abbot pulled level with Alex Parrott scoring from a catch-and-drive move and Sweeney adding the conversion.

But Argaum, who had scored 33 points or more in every game since November 12, should have responded immediately. They had a great chance from the restart but were stopped right on the line and were then penalised.

After that they spent much of the second half in their own half with Newton Abbot really putting them under pressure.

Somehow though Argaum kept them out until the 66th minute when they managed to get over from a tap penalty, with scrum-half Callum Donald looking like he might have got the ball down.

The visitors were then reduced to 14 men towards the end of the game, but they suddenly came to life again in the dying seconds and got within 10 metres of scoring, only for the dangerous Jack Morris to be pushed into touch.

In Counties Two Devon, Devonport Services II beat Ivybridge II 25-12 at Cross-in-Hand in a replayed match after last week’s fixture was abandoned after 55 minutes due to an injury.

Both Ivybridge and Services had strong second teams out on Saturday with neither having a first team game.

Services II took the lead with a penalty by centre Kieran Down and then they went 8-0 up with a try by flanker Connor McKay.

Ivybridge cut that lead on 24 minutes with a catch-and-drive try from hooker Will Johnson.

But Services took an 18-5 half-time lead with hooker Sam Bennett scoring from a maul, which Down converted. Down then kicked a penalty.

Iybridge came back early in the second half with Charlie Teague scoring a try, which Adam Lilly converted.

But Devonport ended any hopes of an Ivybridge comeback with a Matt Richards try, which Tom West converted.

Despite the defeat, Ivybridge II stay in sixth, while Services II stay eighth.

Also in Counties Two Devon, second-placed Torquay did cut Tavistock’s lead to 13 points with a narrow 20-14 win at South Molton. However, Tavistock could win the title this coming weekend if they can beat Honiton at home.

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