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RUGBY: Devonport Services, Oaks, Argaum and Tamar Saracens all claim opening day bonus-point wins

DEVONPORT Services got their Regional One South West season off to winning start by ending newly-promoted Matson’s long unbeaten winning run.

Services, who finished fourth last season, picked up a full five points in a hard-fought 39-31 victory at the Rectory.

Matson had arrived in Plymouth having not lost a league game since February 2020. They won all their games last term in Regional Two and also the previous year in Western Counties North.

And they pushed Services hard in the second half, coming back from 26-14 down at half-time.

They got to within one point at one stage in the second half and even in the closing minutes were only five points down before Services kicked a penalty to seal the victory and deny Matson an extra bonus point.

Devonport head coach Ben Russell felt his team made a lot of mistakes, especially in the second half, but he was full of praise for their opponents.

“We were still playing like it was pre-season,” said Russell afterwards. “There were a lot of mistakes, a lot of turnover ball and a lot of silly penalties.

“We were 26-14 up at half-time. We played quite well but kind of imploded a bit second half with mistakes and penalties.

“But, fair play to Matson, they came and came and came. They didn’t give up. To be honest, they deserved to get more than one point out of the game – they should have got another bonus point at the end.

“I was talking to their chairman and they didn’t lose a game last year and were actually unbeaten in something like 48 games. They have done really, really well and they are going to shock a few this year. They were good, they were tenacious and kept going and it was a bit of a wake-up call for our boys.”

He added: “We did play some lovely rugby at times, but we just didn’t keep on going – we took our foot off the gas. However, it’s a good start – we got the five points which we wanted– but it’s not where we want to be.”

Services, with flankers Liam Jarvis and James Hocking impressing, took an early lead with a great try by debutant full-back Harrison Coonick, which Kieran Down converted.

But Matson responded quickly to level before Down tangled with one of Matson’s props and both players were sin-binned.

While both sides were down to 14 men, Services restored their lead when hooker Joe Daley burst through to score. However, in doing so he appeared to dislocate his knee, although it did go back in. Matt Neyle added the conversion with Down still off.

It got better for Services when centre Shaun Crawford, captaining the side in the absence of Matt Gregory, broke through to score and make it 19-7.

Matson pulled another try back before picking up another yellow card.

Services did end the half on a high with a try by another debutant, Freddie Davies, which gave the hosts the bonus point and a 26-14 half-time lead.

Down kicked a penalty immediately after the restart to increase Services’ lead to 15 points, but two quick converted tries by Matson made it a one-point game.

The hosts gave themselves some breathing space when scrum-half Dylan Daley found himself on the wing to score. Down added the conversion to make it 36-28.

But Services then had replacement Aiden Taylor yellow carded for a high tackle and Matson closed to within five points before Down made sure of the win and denied the visitors a second bonus point with a late penalty.

Ivybridge did not get the start to the new season they wanted as they went down 24-10 at Cross-in-Hand to 14-man Launceston.

The Bridgers were missing a host of senior players due to a wedding, but they will have been disappointed not to have claimed anything out of a home game where their visitors had a man sent off in the 30th minute.

Former Tavistock flanker Leione Cole was dismissed for an off-the-ball incident in a maul as his side drove to the try line.

At the time Launceston were only 14-10 ahead, but the young Ivybridge were not able to take advantage and they also ended up playing 20 minutes with 14 men after picking up two yellow cards.

“We knew what Launceston were going to do and they managed the red card really well,” said new Ivybridge head coach Davy McGregor after the match.

“I think for us the biggest thing was getting the young lads debuts. They’ve got their nerves over with.

“Ultimately it was about game-management. When they went down to 14 men instead of us managing that with a bit of maturity, we ended up with 14 as well with the yellow cards.

“I think that does come with maturity and experience.

“The big thing was our discipline – it absolutely killed us. I think we gave away 14 or 15 penalties.”

Ivybridge did have their chances but blew a couple of opportunities with knock-ons.

“The drop balls I think just come from trying to force it,” said McGregor. “Because we didn’t have much ball when we did get it we were trying to force it all the time.”

McGregor admitted he is hoping to a see a reaction from the team in training this week ahead of a long trip to Lydney.

Ivybridge will hope to have the likes of Charlie Briant, Ben Watts and Matt Grieveson back in contention for that match.

The Bridgers, who handed starting debuts to Taine Morgan, Rhys Carpenter and Dan Gloyns and replacement debuts to Tom Hancocks and Sam Courtney, did take the lead with a penalty from Sam Brown.

Dan Pearce hit the post with a similar effort at the other end before he scored a fine try down the left, which he also converted.

But Ivybridge went back in front in the 24th minute when hooker Henry Trudgill scored from the back of a catch-and-drive move and Brown converted.

However, that was as good as it got for Ivybridge, who after that could not really put anything together.

Launceston went 14-10 ahead when impressive centre Cameron Fogden scored from close range and Pearce converted.

Cole was then sent off just when the visitors looked like they might score again from a driving maul.

Yet seven minutes later Ivybridge were also down to 14 for 10 minutes when Gloyns was sin-binned.

Pearce added a penalty to make it 17-10 before Brown missed one at the other end just before half-time.

Early in the second half, Morgan was yellow carded and Pearce missed a penalty.

Launceston did lose two line-out right on their try line but Ivybridge were unable to take advantage and things got worse for the hosts when prop George Montgomery had to be stretchered off injured. Without him their scrum started to go backwards and when Launceston got a penalty in the 71st minute they opted for a scrum and, with the referee playing advantage, number eight Brandon Rowley scored a converted try for the visitors.

Ivybridge had a couple of great chances in the closing minutes to at least snatch a bonus point but they went begging.


PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks scored five tries to open their new campaign with a 31-12 win over Paignton at Horsham Fields.

Oaks led 19-0 at the break and it looked like they might keep a clean sheet but they picked up two yellow cards late on and Paignton, who were fortunate not to be relegate last season after finishing second-from-bottom, took advantage to score a couple of tries.

Duncan Bibby, Chey Bryce, Jamie Shone, Will Scantlebury and Corey Jamieson touched down for Oaks, with player-coach Lewis Paterson kicking three conversions.

Harry Law and Liam Cleaver scored for Paignton, with new signing Brad McKee converting them both.

Oaks coach Paterson was certainly happy with the bonus-point win.

“It was really good,” he said. “We wanted a five-point league win in the first game of the season and we got one.

“A couple of lads dropped out at the last minute so we had to have a little shuffle around, but we did well.

“We kept them scoreless until about the 65th or 70th minute. It was just a bit of ill-discipline and we put pressure on ourselves. We gave away some silly penalties and they just capitalised.”

He added: “Paignton have got a good coaching set-up with Martin Worthington and you can see that they can play some good rugby. They have signed Brad McKee from Brixham so they have a tidy squad, but I think we were just a bit more physical.

“We did score some really good tries, but at other times we just weren’t quite linking and some balls were going to the floor. Yet the goal was to get a five-point win and find our feet.

“The colts won, the seniors won and our second team drew. The goal was not to lose a game this weekend and we have ticked those boxes.

“Everyone did really well and stuck to the system. There were a load of positives. We just wanted a five-point win and now we will look at St Ives.”

However, there was opening day disappointment for league newcomers Tavistock, who lost 18-14 at last season’s bottom club Falmouth.

Both sides scored two tries – with Alex Bullock and Nick Carne scoring for Falmouth and Ethan Lamerton and Liam Watts touching down for Tavistock – but the difference was two penalties – one in each half – that Harvy Penhallurick kicked.

Falmouth had led 8-7 at the break but Tavistock came back to go 14-8 in front after the interval only for Falmouth to hit back and win it.

Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy admitted it was a frustrating watch as he felt his team should have taken the victory.

“We should have won it,” he said. “But we squandered far too many chances. Another day we would have put them all away, but we didn’t.

“We made several strange decisions at times. We butchered a fair few four v twos, but it is what it is.

“Some of their supporters said afterwards that we were the better team, but I told them the scoreboard doesn’t say that.

“It was frustrating stood on the sideline as last season in the same situations we would have scored from all those opportunities.

“All right it is a higher league up, but it wasn’t them stopping us from scoring, it was us making mistakes. We just have to get more clinical.

“It was the first run-out, but we can play a lot better than that. Another week if we have the same chances we will score. There was a bit of indecision, a bit of panic, but at the end of the day they won it.

“The desire was there but not quite the execution.

“I know we are a lot better than we were. Some of the stuff we have been good at we just failed to do at times. It might just be a bit of rustiness. It’s onwards and upwards now.

“We did come away with a point, which is start.”

Caddy was pleased to see Tylo Coupland, Calum Baker and Jordan Taylor make their senior debuts for Tavistock, who now have to prepare for a tough home test against last season’s third-placed side Kingsbridge.


NEWLY-promoted Plymouth Argaum caused an upset on the opening day of the season in Counties Two Devon as they beat one of the favourites Barnstaple II at Bickleigh Down,

Barnstaple II finished third last season and were unbeaten in 2023, but Argaum made home advantage tell and just out-muscled their youthful visitors.

“The boys put in an outstanding performance and did everything that we asked of them,” said a delighted Argaum head coach Dean Avery.

“We are actually still missing a lot of players. We had two have to come in late on the morning as we had a couple of drop-outs, but it was all about the attitude and the way the guys have gone about business.

“Barnstaple are a very good outfit. They have a lot of young, fast and fit guys but we just stuck to what we did last year and made them force the errors and when we got an opportunity in the 22 we finished.

“A lot of people are going to come unstuck against Barnstaple as they are a very good side.

“They came down by coach, but they really didn’t know what they had walked into, to be honest.

“Our driving maul was superb. We carried the ball well and got over the gain-line, which is what we lacked against Liskeard-Looe. Billy Stockwell came back in and guided the ship at 10. It was a massive bonus to have Billy back.”

He added: “We have not set any targets at all. The guys turned up and got five points against a side that I believe had been unbeaten for something like seven months. They praised us for our performance and it is positive for us but we won’t be getting carried away.”

In glorious sunshine at Bickleigh Down, Argaum got off to a great start with a try from a driving maul by Dan Smith.

But Barnstaple hit back with a fine converted try by full-back Morgan Gabe, before Smith got a second in almost identical fashion to give the hosts a 10-7 lead.

The visitors then kicked on and scored three unanswered tries to go 24-10 ahead.

However, Argaum upped their game and before long the match was all-square a 24-24 thanks to a penalty try after Preston Wilkins had been tackled off the ball chasing a kick through and then forward Keiran Burring scored from close range.

And the win was snatched when, after intense pressure on the line, Argaum quickly switched the ball right and Wilkins scored in the corner.

There was disappointment for fellow newly-promoted side OPMs, who narrowly lost 26-20 at home to South Molton in their season opener.

OPMs started the game brilliantly and had been 13-0 up after 25 minutes but they just lost their way before and after half-time against an experienced South Molton team.

Young fly-half Matt Smale had given OPMs the lead with a penalty on six minutes before number eight Pete Marr went over for the game’s opening try eight minutes later, which Smale converted.

Smale then kicked another penalty and it was all looking good for the hosts on their return to level eight.

But tries by Jake Cook and Matthew Hurrell saw South Molton close the gap to one point by half-time.

They then scored again five minutes after the break courtesy of Cameron Vallely, which Cook converted to put the visitors in front for the first time.

It got better for South Molton when Will Thorne crossed for their fourth touch-down in the 66th minute, which made it 26-13.

However, OPMs did scored an injury-time try through captain Billy Garratt, which Smale converted, to at least secure them a bonus point.

Devonport Services II made a fine start to the season with a 31-24 away win at much-fancied Honiton.

Services II led 7-3 at the break before increasing that to 24-3 in a strong period after the break.

Honiton closed that to 24-17 before the visitors went 31-17 ahead only for Honiton to snatch a bonus point three minutes from time with a converted try.

Ciaran Poat scored two tries for Services II, with Toby Moss, Mark Friend and Isaiah Akinworo also touching down. Tom West kicked one conversion and Brandon Bonser two.

Meanwhile, an under-strength Ivybridge II team were well beaten 53-10 away at last season’s runners-up Torquay Athletic.

James Sloan scored Ivybridge’s only try, with Lew Swatton adding a conversion and a penalty.

Ryan Hanauer (2), Harvey Dent (2), Jonny Brown, Ash Sharp, Alex Loewy, Mitch Eagling and Isaac Fahey scored tries for Torquay.


LAST season’s Counties Three Devon West runners-up Tamar Saracens made a statement on the opening day of the season with a 50-12 away win over newcomers Tavistock II.

Sarries stormed into a 43-0 half-time lead before taking their foot off the gas in the second period.

“In the first half we were outstanding in all departments – backs, forwards, scrummaging, line-outs – you couldn’t fault it,” said Pete Lethbridge.

“The boys then just eased off a bit and then there were a few silly injuries and penalties.

“Fatigue came in a little bit as we haven’t played apart from a 10s tournament. So we had a few pull up with muscles – nothing major – but overall it was a good result.

“We weren’t happy about conceding the two tries, but, fair play to Tavvy, they came back a bit as we got a bit tired. But overall it was really good and now we look forward to Plym Vic.”

Sarries took less than two minutes to score with Greg Parrott crossing under the posts and he also converted.

Tries then came at regular intervals in the first half. Jordan Maddocks bagged two, with Jacob Blasdale, playing at 10 instead of nine, summer signings Lew Harris and Adam Coutts and replacement Dane Waryck also going over the whitewash in the opening period.  Harris also kicked three conversions.

They then went 50-0 up after the interval with a breakaway converted try by the powerful Reece Boase, who is back at Sarries after a season playing rugby league for Cornwall.

But Tavistock kept going and were rewarded with tries by Russell Lumley and Chris Watts, with James Lovering adding a conversion.

Plympton Victoria were positive despite losing 56-17 to Brixham II on their return to league rugby.

Last season Brixham II were playing in Counties Two and Plym Vic in the Devon Merit Table so it was always going to be a tough game for them.

But Plym Vic scored two good tries courtesy of Matt Galloway and Chris Rundle and Jordan Blair and Chris Barratt chipped in with kicks.

“You could tell there was a bit of quality in their side,” said Plym Vic chairman Chris Hunt. “The real difference was their backs – they were young, very fit, skilled and well-drilled. Give them a bit of space and they were all over it. We just couldn’t get our defence organised enough to deal with them.

“In the forwards there was pretty much parity, but as soon as they managed to get it out to their backs that’s where the real difference was.

“But we were quite happy we scored a couple of tries and we got amongst it.

“Looking at it, it was our first time back in that league and we didn’t feel too out of place.

“We knew we were going to play a good team with a good pedigree but I don’t think we embarrassed ourselves. There were a few mistakes, but you always get that.

“The good thing is we had a team of four subs, although unfortunately, I was one of them. I’ve had more comebacks than Status Quo!

“But the lads were fairly chipper afterwards. There’s still a good feeling around the club. We’ll just see how we go from here.”

Plymstock Albion Oaks II opened their campaign with a 20-20 home draw with Paignton II.

Oaks scored four tries but were unable to convert any of them, which did cost them the win.

Paignton II only scored three tries through Scott McKenna, George Palk and Darren Hartland, but Reece Titheridge kicked a penalty and a conversion.

Oaks’ tries came from Josh Breed, Stu Collyer, Jack Welch and Peni Turua.

Old Techs were left disappointed as Kingsbridge II pulled out of visiting Weston Mill to play them on the opening day of the season.

Techs had been hoping for a good crowd to get the new campaign underway.

That was one of a number of walkovers on the opening day of the season.

In the same division, Totnes also handed Dartmouth a home win, while in Counties Two Cornwall Saltash were handed a home walkover by St Just.

Saltash did send a genuine second team to Wadebridge II in Counties Three Cornwall, where they were beaten 47-0.

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