TAMAR Saracens secured a bonus-point win deep in injury-time in their final league match of the season at Topsham II on Friday night to move to the top of Counties Three Devon West.
They now just have to wait and see if their city rivals Plymouth Argaum can steal the title ahead of by picking up two points away at Salcombe today.
Argaum go into their final match one point behind Sarries in the table and with one less win so they need either a draw, a win or two bonus points to claim the league crown.
“We did what we had to do last week (against Old Techs) and did what we had to do this week as well,” said Tamar Saracens head coach Mike Lewis.
“We are top of the league at the moment and it is now up to Argaum to do their bit. Good luck to them. They have done really well this season and had a great winning run.
“Whichever way it goes, we are pretty happy with how far we have come this season.
“It has been a great end to the league season and we’ll get stuck into the cup next week.”
Sarries really had to dig deep under the floodlights at Tospham.
They had to overcome a number of injuries and the second half sending off of Scott Sheldon, but they got the five points thanks to three penalty tries and an early touch-down by Adam Corbett.
“It’s one of those games that we will look back on and say that was a bloody good win,” said Lewis.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of games at times. Both teams tried to play rugby at the beginning but we both cancelled each other out on their small pitch so then it ended up going quite tight. But our boys really dug in.
“Marc Cioffi pulled his calf early on, Pooky (Joey Pook) hurt his ribs and had to come off, Ed Cox came on but then had to go off injured. We had to change things completely. We had props in the second-row, wingers on the flank, wingers in the centre – everyone was all over the place by the end as that’s what we had to do, but everyone just clubbed in.”
Topsham took an early 7-0 lead through front-rower Jeremy Smith but Sarries levelled with a catch-and-drive try by hooker Corbett, which Lewis Swatton converted.
Sarries dominated up front with their scrum and maul a potent weapon on Topsham’s small second team pitch.
And just before the break, Sarries were awarded a penalty try when the hosts pulled a maul down on the line.
Sarries had flanker Jordan Maddocks yellow carded just before half-time and early in the second period Topsham pulled level with a converted try from prop Joe Cockram.
Bill Holwill then kicked a retaken penalty to put Topsham II 17-14 ahead and it got worse for Sarries when replacement Sheldon was red carded by the referee for alleged dissent after Jason Stead had been injured.
But Sarries, whose set-piece was outstanding all match, really finished strongly and were awarded another penalty try after more good forward work on the line.
Time was running out for the bonus point but deep in injury-time they got a penalty and Swatton booted it down field and Sarries got their catch-and-drive going only for it to be illegally stopped again on the line and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a third penalty try.
“It was exhausting just watching,” said director of rugby Pete Lethbridge.
“We did what we had to do and could not do much more.”