Gallery / Rugby

GALLERY: Saltash eye more silverware after RNEC and Pedrick Cup success

SALTASH will be looking to lift a fourth trophy within seven days on Saturday when they travel to Wadebridge to take on Perranporth in the final of the Cornwall Clubs’ Cup.

Last weekend their seconds won the Duchy Shield, while on Wednesday night their first and second teams both claimed victories in Plymouth Combination cups.

The Ashes’ first team secured the RNEC Cup by beating a Plymstock Albion Oaks XV 65-19, while their second string survived a scare to overcome OPMs II 24-15 in the Pedrick Cup.

Saltash should have been playing Counties Three side Oaks II in the RNEC final, but Plymstock did boost their squad with a host of first team players, including Lewis Paterson, Pete Keanie, Matt Jackson and Harvey Courtis, to try and make it a competitive match.

However, even with some Western West reinforcements, the Ashes were far too strong for Oaks and out-scored them 11 tries to three.

Lock Devon Bennett-Murray was the star of the show for Saltash with a first-half hat-trick of tries. He also had another effort ruled out for a forward pass in the second period.

Young full-back Billy Dover got them off the mark in the opening two minutes with a try on the right.

That was followed four minutes later by one on the left by hooker Rob Walsh after good play by captain Jay Moriarty, who was making his 200th appearance for the club. Jack Pritchard added the conversion.

It got better for the Ashes with two tries in two minutes by the powerful Bennett-Murray, who Oaks just could not stop.

Dover added his second and Saltash’ fifth on 26 minutes before finally Oaks had some pressure that eventually led to player-coach Paterson scoring after a five-metre scrum. Keanie added the conversion.

But in the closing stages of the half, Oaks were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes and Bennett-Murray claimed his hat-trick before fellow forward Phil Eatwell claimed a fine try in injury-time to make the half-time score 41-7.

They increased their lead straight after the interval with a try by second-row Lewis Woolaway, but then Oaks had a really good spell after switching things around.

Paterson became more influential, as did full-back Jackson, who crossed for a try on the left in the 54th minute.

Saltash were then reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes and the powerful Keanie added a third try for Oaks.

But the Ashes responded well and finished the game strongly with tries by fly-half Danny Snook and replacements Steve Hillman and Simon Nance.

Saltash II had a much closer game that they could have lost had OPMs’ Sammy Matts had his kicking boots on.

The Ashes’ second string dominated the opening 30 minutes and went 17-0 up, with tries by Jack Thorn, Adrian Marshall and Axel Nicks. They were also held up twice over the line.

Matts did miss a penalty attempt on 10 minutes but that was their only real chance of adding any points in the opening stages.

However, in the 34th minute, number eight Mark Hardie gave them hope with a try from a five-metre scrum to make the half-time score 17-5.

And OPMs were much better after the interval and they quickly cut the gap to 17-10 with a try by winger Adam Jarrod.

That was how it stayed until the 80th minute when Andy Hodge crossed to the right of the posts to make it 17-15 with the conversion to come. It was a kick that Matts would normally put over, but he did not have his kicking boots on and it went wide.

And with the last play of the game, Saltash’s Matt Green was awarded a try under the posts, even though it looked like he had knocked on, and Ben Lawley added the simple conversion.

Saltash were delighted with the Plymouth Combination cup double and are now eyeing another victory on Saturday against Perranporth.

“We were really pleased,” said head coach Steve Down, whose team only lost one league game all season as they finished as runners-up to St Ives in a tight title battle. “It’s a reward for all the hard work.

“We are quite proud of what we have done this year. We look at it as positive. There were a couple of last-gasp disappointments but at the end of the day we are happy.

“And we really want to get a bit more silverware on Saturday, which is our main focus now.

“Perranporth, have just got promoted so it will be a good measure of where they are for next season. We are really looking forward to it.

“Everything we had done this year we have taken as a positive.

“It has been a bit disappointing as we could have gone up, but we’ll take our lessons and learn and hopefully become and even better side.

“We are a young side and we are rebuilding a squad and a team.”

He added: “It (the cups) were not what we were aiming for at the start of the year, but at the end of it you would accept three or four trophies and finishing second in the league.”

Saltash are able to name a similar side to the one that beat Oaks in midweek for Saturday’s Cornwall final.

They make just three changes to the starting line-up. Simon Nance comes in at prop and in the backs Sam Snell and Billy Dover are missing, but Ryan Cruickshanks is available again and Nick Blake also comes in at fly-half.

Saltash:  Ryan Cruickshanks; Will Morton, Greg Eatwell, Danny Snook, Jay Moriarty; Nick Blake, Jack Pritchard; Simon Nance, Rob Walsh, Ryan Simmons; Lewis Woolaway, Devon Bennett-Murray; Lewis Wells, Phil Eatwell, Ryan Rayner. Reps: Ben Simmonds, Axel Nicks, Steve Hillman, Matt Coker, James Sutton, Ryan Wilson.

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