Argaum and OPMs hoping they can make their mark in Counties Two Devon

PLYMOUTH Argaum and OPMs are both hoping they can make their mark in Counties Two Devon this season after winning promotion last term.

Argaum secured their place back at level eight by pipping Tamar Saracens to the Counties Three Devon West crown, while OPMs edged out Crediton II for the Devon East title.

Both clubs know it is going to be a big challenge in the higher league where they will be up against second teams from Barnstaple, Exmouth, Services and Ivybridge and the first team of Torquay Athletic, Withycombe, Honiton, Exeter Saracens, South Molton and North Tawton.

“We have not set any targets,” said Argaum coach Dean Avery. “I think we will discuss it but at the moment it is about gathering availability and seeing where we are and what we are going into.

“But I certainly don’t want to be down at the bottom of the table – I want to be pushing mid-table or above and I think that is the ambition for everyone. Plus, we also want to make sure we can get a twos team out now and again.

“We are very positive as a club and I am looking forward to taking them to the next level.”

He added: “Pre-season has been tricky with the amount of people we have had out so I’ve not seen my first XV yet.

“We are still short, but we have got a big enough squad now and we need to be dealing with it.

“It is a bit difference for us this year only having three subs – that’s a big challenge as you need to make sure people can play in different positions.”

Among those missing the opening weekend will be Tom Worboys, who suffered a nasty facial injury against Tavistock in pre-season, as well as Owen Gocher, Al Percival and Tom Shepherd.

They could not have asked for a tougher start as they face Barnstaple II at Bickleigh Down.

Barnstaple finished third in the league last season and were unbeaten in 2023, winning all nine of their league game after the turn of the year.

“They are going to be good outfit,” said Avery. “Their players are going to be wanting to play National League rugby and they are going to travel well with it being the first game of the season.

“But we will be up for it and we will be looking forward to hopefully getting something out of the game.

“Hopefully, we can make it a fortress here this season.”

Argaum, who lost star centre Jack Norris at the end of last season, have not got the easiest opening month. After Barnstaple, they visit South Molton, then host Withycombe before facing Services and Exmouth’s second teams back-to-back.

Whatever happens in the opening few weeks of the season, Avery is confident of his team’s mentality.

“It is all about character,” he said. “Last year we lost our first two games but then we went on basically on unbeaten run for the rest of the season.”

OPMs also have a tough start to life back at level eight. They host South Molton before visiting Withycombe, and then playing Services II, Exmouth II and Torquay.

“We had a players’ meeting way back at the start of the summer and we have set out our priorities,” said head coach Andy Williams. “The players know what those are and I think it is important we stick to it.

“Our first league game is against South Molton and we are looking forward to it.

“We are going to be facing some very strong teams in this league like Torquay, Withycombe, Exmouth II and Services II. We are definitely not going to have some fixtures like we had last year where we were putting a lot of points on the opposition.

“It is going to be a lot more competitive for us and a really good benchmark to see where we are at.

“We know what our targets are as we have talked about it, but we are looking more about performance. We have to trust in what we are trying to do in training and see where we end up.

“There’s going to be few upsets, I’m sure, where teams think they are going to win and don’t.”

He added: “We have recruited a few players – not many as I think we felt we had quite a good squad last year.

“Our biggest thing, like most clubs, is availability due to work and family commitments.

“We are not at that level where people are getting remunerated for their time. People are just doing it because they like the club, for fun, because their mates are playing all that kind of stuff.

“As with every club training numbers have been up and down. If you have a family you have to take a holiday during the school holidays.

“But overall numbers have been really good.”

OPMs were unbeaten at home last season and they, like Argaum, are hoping to make their home form count.

Trips to Bickleigh Down and King George V Playing Fields will be a bit different to playing on the artificial pitch at Ivybridge’s Cross-in-Hand ground or playing at the Rectory or Barnstaple’s Pottington Road grounds and Argaum and OPMs hope to use that as an advantage.

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