DEVONPORT Services will be looking to reach the final of the Devon Senior Cup when their host Exmouth at the Rectory in the semi-finals on Saturday (3pm).
Services II, who booked their place in the Lockie Cup final on Tuesday, also have a chance to reach another final as they host Crediton II in the last four of the Devon 2nd XV Shield (1pm).
Devonport have never won the Devon Senior Cup and reaching the final would capped a fine year that saw them finish fourth in their first season at level five.
But standing in their way will be Exmouth, who finished just one place and two points behind them in the league and who have beaten them two times out of three this season.
However, all the meetings between the clubs went with home advantage and Services are hoping that will tell again on Saturday.
“Obviously we would love to get into the final,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
“Our goal at the start of the season wasn’t about looking at cup finals – it was just about staying up – but we did really well and now we are in them we want to try and win them.
“We will give it a good crack to try and get to the final.
“We have to take the positives of playing at home. We are a tough team to beat at home. We have won some games at home that we never should have done this year because they boys just don’t give in and love the club.
“It’s a cup semi-final, so there’s nothing to lose. I think both teams will throw it around, try and play a bit of rugby and play to their strengths.”
Services and Exmouth only met two weeks ago in a group match in the cup. Exmouth narrowly won that 20-15, but Devonport did travel with a makeshift team.
Services should have forwards Rikki Bentham, Matt Gregory and Aiden Taylor back but winger Luke Stannard is missing as is fellow back George Pooley.
“We have a few missing, but not as many as last time,” said Russell. “We will be stronger than our last time out and we’ll just see how it goes.”
Ivybridge missed out on a place in the Senior Cup semi-finals but they do have a good chance of winning the Devon Senior Shield.
They will play lower league Sidmouth away on Saturday, with Credition waiting to play the winner in the final.
Ivybridge did visit Sidmouth just three weeks ago in a cup group game and won 29-19 with virtually a second team. They are expected to travel with a much different side this weekend.
Ivybridge’s second team are also in action on Saturday as they travel to Barnstaple in the semi-finals of the Devon 2nd XV Cup.
NATIONAL COMMUNITY CUP
SALTASH are hoping it will be third time lucky against St Ives on Saturday as they host their Cornish rivals in the second round of the Papa John’s Community Cup.
The Ashes started their journey towards Twickenham by beating Bristol side Imperial in the first round, only then to be drawn against the team that just pipped them for the Counties Two Cornwall title.
St Ives were the only team to beat Saltash in the league all season and that loss – and then a draw with them at home – ultimately proved very costly.
Saltash would love to prove a point this weekend, but first they have to pick themselves up from a frustrating last-gasp defeat to Devonport Services II in midweek in the Lockie Cup semi-final.
“Although we would have loved to have been in the (Lockie Cup) final, we’ll look at the blessings it has given us,” said Saltash head coach Steve Down. “It means we can focus on the national cup.
“If you are doing a national cup run then it is not ideal having to play Wednesdays.
“We are actually still in three cup competitions.
“It has been testing our squad strength but we do have faith in our strength in depth.”
He added: “Hopefully, it will be third time lucky against St Ives. We lost away and drew at home and we feel we should have beaten them both times.
“Hopefully, the boys will have recovered from midweek. We should have a fairly full selection.
“We would love to have a good crack at it (the national cup). Both ourselves and St Ives are a good standard and are playing good rugby so I’m sure we both feel we could go a fair way.”
DEVON JUNIOR SHIELD AND BOWL
OPMs have their eyes on a league and cup double as they host Exeter Athletic in the semi-finals of the Devon Junior Shield on Saturday (3pm).
The Old Boys won Counties Three Devon East and have already beaten Exeter Athletic twice.
If they can get past them this weekend then they will play either city rivals Old Techs or Torrington in the final.
OPMs are holding their vice-presidents day on Saturday and to make a day out of it their second team will host Plympton Victoria at 1.30pm.
Old Techs have an unexpected chance to reach the showpiece final after topping their qualifying pool, despite not winning a match with tough fixtures against OPMs, Plymouth Argaum and Tamar Saracens.
But if they can get past Torrington then they would host the final at Western Mill, where they are strong.
“We’ve not played Torrington this year as they were in the other division,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“If you look at their results they have not been hammered by anyone. They have been losing games, but not losing big. Also at home they are always strong.
“They’ve got a home semi-final and you would image they are going to be a strong as they can be.
“We are certainly not expecting an easy game.
“Their pitch is not easy to play and they are never an easy team to play against. I think we will be in for a tough game. I think it is 50-50.
“If we turn up and play how we are capable of playing then we have a chance, but I would imagine they will think the same.”
Techs are taking a coach up so should have a number of supporters to cheer them on.
They should also be boosted by having Tom Blythe back. They have struggled for a scrum-half all season. They also hope to have a few more players back from their defeat to OPMs in their last outing.
Weirdly the big level nine game is in the Devon Junior Bowl where Devon West champions Plymouth Argaum visit league runners-up Tamar Saracens in the semi-finals (2.15pm).
Argaum and Sarries both won their two group games, but were in the same group as OPMs, who were put back into the Devon Junior Shield having originally been drawn in the Devon Junior Cup.
With all three teams in the pool unbeaten with two wins out of two (clubs did not play anyone in their pool), the group was decided by points difference and bonus points and OPMs just came out on top with points difference. Argaum took second with 10 points out of 10 and Sarries were third with nine points out of 10.
Argaum head coach Dean Avery said: “It is a strange position to be in – we claimed two bonus point wins in the group and didn’t even realise OPMs had been put in our league.
“We are also very puzzled how we have been drawn away to Tamar Saracens even though we finished above them in the same league. It is all just very strange.
“But we are where we are and we have very good availability for the game. I think we have 28 available.”
Argaum are boosted by having star centre Jack Morris coming back from Wales to play in the match, but Tom Holliday is a doubt with an ankle injury.
The Bickleigh Down club have already started planning for life in Counties Two next season by signing three new players this week – Max Earle, Kieran Burring and Charles vom Hagen, who is the younger brother of their current player JJ vom Hagen. However, none of those can play in this week’s cup game.
Argaum beat Sarries 33-0 at the Parkway in December which proved the difference in the title race come the end of the season with Argaum winning the crown by four points.
That loss did hurt Sarries, who had won the corresponding game at Bickleigh Down 40-28.
“You shouldn’t be losing by that many points to any team and it was at home as well,” said Sarries’ head coach Mike Lewis. “It was one of those games where we had a bit of a mix-and-match team and had players playing out of position, but there was no excuse to lose by that much so we have a massive point to prove.”
Lewis says his club have also been confused by this year’s Devon cup competition.
“We are amazed we have a home semi-final when we finished bottom of our group and also amazed at the same time that OPMs got put into our group and not the group of one or two,” he said.
“No-one really knows what has happened. Our players don’t have a clue what is going on and neither do the coaches and that’s a problem as it changes the outlook on the competition.
“However, I’m sure they (Argaum) will have a great side out. They have done really well in the league and will want a double.
“This is the big one really. It could be the crescendo of our season or theirs or it could be the final game of the season for either of us.
“If both teams act and play like that, then it should be a cracker.”
Sarries have plenty of backs available this week but do have a few injuries and unavailabilities in their forwards.
They also have their dinner dance planned that afternoon, which is why the kick-off is at 2.15pm.