PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks continued their preparations for their Counties One Western West campaign with a 30-29 win over a Devonport Services XV at the Rectory on Thursday night.
Oaks, who had played Brixham on Saturday, ran in six tries – three within the first 25 minutes – to snatch the pre-season victory. Former Services players Tom Richards and Corey Jamieson both scored twice for them, as did replacement Peni Turua.
Services fielded mainly their Counties Two Devon side, although Tom Davies did start for them as he needed some game-time, while Rikki Bentham and Joe Daley were on the bench to provide front-row cover.
Devonport had started with two teenagers in their front-row and they were made to work extremely hard early on against an experienced Oaks front-row that included ex-Services hooker Chey Bryce and former Ivybridge prop Matt Finn.
But both clubs felt they got a lot out of the run-out under the Rectory floodlights.
Oaks head coach Lewis Paterson said: “We played last week against a strong Brixham team and we didn’t have some players that we had for this game so our depth is really good now.
“We didn’t really focus on conversions or anything, we just wanted to play and do what we have done in pre-season. It was really positive to go through that amount of people who have been training.”
Services player-coach Rikki Bentham said: “All credit to Plymstock they turned up and really went for it. We knew it was going to be tough, especially with the side they put out.
“I thought our lads did well to stay in it. We had quite a strong bench which we started to roll on. We ended up a bit stronger than we wanted, but credit to Plymstock who really took it to us.”
He added: “At the end we spoke about how our catch, pass, run has to be the best it can be and the lads are aware of that.”
Services got off to a terrible start and gave away a five-metre scrum in the opening moments of the game from which Oaks eventually scored courtesy of Richards.
On 24 minutes, Services had Matt Richards sin-binned and Oaks scored two tries within two minutes. Jamieson went over after Paterson put him in and then Richards got his second after intercepting a Service pass right on the try line.
Down to 14 men, Services brought on Daley and Bentham and within seconds Daley had scored from a catch-and-drive move to get his side back into it and Tom West added the conversion.
Four minutes later Devonport got a second try when Davies burst through the middle to score.
However, straight away Oaks went up the other end and responded with Turua going over in the corner after a good scrum move.
Services did get a try back just before half-time with flanker Josh Hemmings scoring in the right corner to make the score at the break 20-17 to Oaks.
Oaks made a great start to the second period with Turua scoring a fine try down the left after Jamieson put him free.
The visitors then picked up a yellow card and Services took advantage with Matt Richards scoring on the left after some good passing across the line. Tom West kicked the conversion to make it a one-point game.
The hosts went in front for the first time on 54 minutes when former Oaks prop James McFarlane was found loitering on the left wing and a long pass found him and he was able to hold off two tackles to score.
But back came Oaks and they restored their one-point advantage with another try by Jamieson.
Services looked for a late winner but their passing just let them down.
A number of other teams will continue their pre-season preparations on Saturday.
After opening their warm-up campaign with an away trip to Newquay last weekend, Old Techs will host Bodmin at Weston Mill on Saturday.
“As it is the bank holiday weekend, we have got quite a few missing this weekend but we have got a team and they have a team and we are just happy to have a game,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
Techs had a bit of a nightmare getting to Newquay last week when their train was cancelled at the last minute and then they lost two players with injuries in the opening 10 minutes, but they were glad of the fixture, which they lost 23-5, having only been 8-5 down at half-time.
“Newquay are a strong outfit,” said Bedford-Smith. “I think they won the Cornwall Shield or something and they have also recruited so we were quite happy.
“We faded a bit near the end and we ran all our penalties, whereas they kicked theirs, so it could have been closer, but we wanted to run through moves, which is what pre-season is about.
“It was good to look at things that didn’t quite work as we have then been able to work on those in training this week, but quite a few things did go right.”
Techs do have Rudi Baker set to make his long-awaited return from a serious knee injury that has kept him out for 18 months, but they do not want to rush him back.
“He has worked really hard to get back fit, but we don’t want to throw him in straight away,” said Bedford-Smith.
Plymouth Argaum will host Liskeard-Looe at Bickleigh Down tomorrow.
They were encouraged last week by taking a makeshift squad to Tavistock and pushing them hard.
They do hope to have a few more players available this weekend to face Liskeard.
“They (Liskeard) are a good side,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery. “It will give us another taste of what we are going to be up against in the higher league but what I saw last week I have no doubt we can compete.”
Tavistock’s first team were due to play OPMs at Sandy Park on Saturday but that game has now been cancelled. However, Tavistock’s second team will still travel to North Tawton on Friday evening.
Saltash have been left without a first team fixture after Bude opted not to make the trip down from north Cornwall.
The Ashes second team will still play Plympton Victoria at Moorlands Lane at 1pm.
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