TAVISTOCK retained the Lockie Cup on Wednesday night by overcoming a spirited Devonport Services II side 25-12 at the Rectory.
The Counties Two Devon champions made a tremendous start to the final and raced into a 25-0 lead in the opening half-an-hour.
But, just like they had done against Saltash in the semi-final the previous week, the young Services II side gradually got to grips with the pace and physicality of the game and pulled two tries back before half-time.
Devonport had the best chances of a scoreless second half and Tavistock had to make a couple of last-gasp tackled to stop them, but they successfully kept them out to claim a league and cup double.
“It lived up to what I predicted, which was that it was going to be good game,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“I don’t think you are going to see that many 0-0 halves of rugby that are going to be as exciting as that second half was.
“In the first half we played as good as what we have done at any time this season.
“But they (Services II) got into it and Matt Anstis isn’t bad for an old boy, is he?
“Some of our lads put in some proper last-ditch tackles to stop them at different parts when it looked like they were through.
“At times we were probably our own worst enemy and gave away a few penalties when we should have just calmed ourselves down a bit and just not gone into the breakdown, but we won and that’s all that matters in a final. The lads are quite over the moon about winning.”
Tavistock took the lead in the 10th minute with a penalty from young scrum-half Charles Bowden, who was kicking in the absence of George Hillson.
Two minutes later, centre Jake Le Gassick scored a tremendous individual try from his own half, running right through Services’ defence.
Devonport were finding it hard to stop the strong running of the likes of Le Gassick, Charlie Brown and Jamie Legg early on.
And it got better for Tavistock in the 23rd minute when hooker Hammy Kerswill scored from a catch-and-drive move and Bowden converted.
Five minutes later number eight Legg showed good strength to go over on the right and Bowden against converted. The young scrum-half also kicked a penalty three minutes later.
But then all of a sudden, Services seemed to find their feet and former Tavistock player Mark Friend pulled a try back for them on 34 minutes.
And in first half injury-time, Toby Knowles scored another try for Services after some intense pressure following a number of penalties on the line.
Knowles thought he had scored another try late in the second half after a great play by George Pooley, but the effort was disallowed for a foot in touch.
Services then knocked on close to the line as they looked for a try to give them hope of a comeback win.
However, Tavistock kept them out to secure the top Plymouth Combination trophy for a second year running.
But there was better luck for Devonport Services III, who retained the Ellis Trophy by beating Tavistock II 41-34 in the other final played on Wednesday night.
Services III were 41-15 up with just 12 minutes to go, but Tavistock II scored three late tries to set up a thrilling ending.
Ethan Williams put Services III ahead with a first minute penalty and then Jack Darragh scored the game’s opening try after a quick tap penalty. Williams added the conversion to make it 10-0.
But Tavistock responded with two great tries by powerful winger Sean Donnelly, who looked a major threat all night. His second effort showed quick thinking as a kick for touch from a penalty from his side got blown in the wind and he beat two Services players to collect it in the air and run in down the right.
Flanker Antonio Polo-Matus then put Services III back in front with a converted try, only for James Lovering to reduce the gap to 17-15 with a penalty for Tavistock II.
But Services III went 24-15 up at the break with a try by Neo Ruston-Ley in the right corner, which Williams brilliantly converted.
Phil Greensides increased that lead with a try 15 minutes into the second half.
Tavistock II were then reduced to 14 men for 10 minute and Jay Warren then scored another try for Services II.
Devonport’s Jenson Slade was denied the try of the night due to a forward pass, but Ruston-Ley did score another on 68 minutes to make it 41-15.
But with Services II thinking the game was won, Tavistock II hit back. First, number eight Jack Giddy scored before the impressive Donnelly claimed his hat-trick. Then deep in injury-time, Devon under-20 scrum-half Freddie Fuller added another.
The referee decided there was still time for one more play and Tavistock went looking for a winning try, but somehow Services III managed to stop them.
The Plymouth Combination cup finals will conclude next Wednesday (April 26), with the RNEC Cup and Pedrick Cup.
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