REGIONAL ONE SOUTH WEST
DEVONPORT Services’ 100 per cent start to the season came to a crashing end on Saturday as they were beaten 41-16 away by Devon rivals Barnstaple.
Services were well and truly brought down to earth in the second half at Pottington Road.
The first half was tight with former National League side Barnstaple just edging the opening 40 minutes 17-16 after Devonport had led 13-7 at one point.
But after the interval, Barnstaple scored four unanswered tries to leave Services with a lot to think about on their journey home.
“It was a wake-up call for us,” said Services head coach Ben Russell, whose side had claimed bonus point wins over Matson, Okehampton and St Austell in their opening three games.
“It was 17-16 at half-time but then they just won the physical battle in the second half.
“We just dropped off too many tackles and they got front-foot ball.
“Every time we got the ball we never ran with intensity and so we thoroughly deserved to lose by that much.”
He added: “Even though it was 17-16 at half-time, I had that feeling that we weren’t there.
“It was just a lack of intensity and physicality second half.
“They (Barnstaple) are very strong at home and losing to Chew last week would have got them riled up, but we just didn’t turn up with the right attitude and the right mind-set.
“Silly mistakes also cost us points when we were near their line in the second half, but we didn’t really deserve anything.
“We were brought down to earth, but that’s okay. It is how we react now.”
Kieran Down kicked Services ahead with an early penalty before former Plymouth Albion hooker Ashlee Crouch scored Barnstaple’s first try of the day to put them 7-3 ahead.
Services, with James Hocking impressing again, hit back with another penalty and then a converted try by number eight Mark Friend to go 13-7 ahead.
Brandon Moore then touched down for a converted score for the hosts to edge them back in front before Services kicked a penalty to make it 16-14.
Kieran McManus added a penalty of his own to give Barnstaple a one-point lead at the interval and then they never looked back in the second half with Moore, Dan Johnson, Ross Swales and Sam Roberts scoring tries for the hosts.
Despite the defeat Services sit third in the table ahead of big games against Brixham and Chew Valley.
Ivybridge’s wait for a first league win of the season goes on after they were narrowly beaten 34-30 away at Okehampton.
The Bridgers did have a chance right at the death to snatch the win when they got a penalty and went for the corner, but they lost the line-out.
They now find themselves second-from-bottom and only them and basement side Weston-super-Mare are yet to claim a win in the league this term.
“We had a chance but again just naivety and a little bit of game management cost us,” said head coach Davy McGregor.
“Our line-out wasn’t functioning yet last play of the game we went for a line-out instead of just keeping the ball alive.
“When we kept the ball alive we played some fantastic rugby.”
McGregor admitted the real disappointment and frustration was that three of Okehampton’s tries came from their errors.
“Teams are not beating us in the sense of rucking over the top of us and making us look silly,” said McGregor. “It’s our own discipline again. It was better this week but the first four penalties were for the same offences that we keep seem to be giving away each time. As a group we have to realise that we are making life hard for ourselves.
“Winning and losing is a habit. If we’d won one or two more games prior to this then I’m sure we would have found a way to win, but because we haven’t, we have found a way to lose.
“As much as a game of rugby is physical probably 60 or 70 per cent is mental. At this moment in time as a group we are just not mature mentally enough. It doesn’t mean we won’t be or haven’t got the skill.”
He added: “The massive positive is the fact that we have scored another 30 points away from home. We were in the position to win the game and there was that bit more fight than in previous games in terms of actually working for each other.
“Young boys are learning on the job. There is a positive vibe that young up-and-coming players are getting a shot and there is a development pathway. Young lads are only going to learn if they play.
“We are not a million miles away. We have lost within seven for the last three games. The boys just have to keep faith. We are working at it but we just need to take the chances in front of us.”
Okehampton, who went into the match also looking for their first win, went 10-0 with a penalty and then a converted try by Matt Coles.
Ivybridge cut that lead to three points with a converted touch-down by captain Sam Furse on 27 minutes.
But Okehampton took a 17-7 half-time lead after Ivybridge lost the ball and Okehampton kicked it forward and Leon Horn touched down.
After the interval, Sam Brown kicked two penalties to close the gap to four points but then the visitors gifted Okehampton an intercept try on their own line following a scrum that Dan Fogerty scored.
Charlie Briant did get Ivybridge back in and make it 24-20 with a converted try, but straight from the restart they switched off and Okehampton went over for a bonus-point try through Horn again.
Brown and Luke Simmons exchanged penalties to leave the score at 34-23 to Okes but Ivybridge set up a thrilling ending when Taine Morgan scored his first try in Ivybridge colours, with Brown converted.
Deep in injury-time, Ivybridge got a penalty. They opted for the corner, but Okehampton stole the line-out and cleared to end the game.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks remain at the top of the Western West table after ending their terrible record at Bude with a 26-17 win at Bencoolen Meadow.
It was Oaks’ first league victory at the north Cornish club, who have always proved to be one of Plymstock’s bogey teams over the years.
But they managed to make sure they dug out a victory this time to keep their 100 per cent start to the season.
“We were comfortable without hitting our top straps,” said Oaks’ Mark Lenthall.
“It is always a hard game up there and they tackled well, but I think they were only in our half once in the first half and twice in the second.”
The match was level at 7-7 at half-time, with Sini Manu scoring for Oaks and Tom Richards converting.
After the interval Ben Turua showed how dangerous he can be with two tries to go with another from fellow back Duncan Bibby.
“That’s four wins in a row now and the second team also had a big win and we had 44 unavailable this week,” added Lenthall.
Newcomers Tavistock are up to third in the table after they claimed a 36-26 home victory over St Ives on Saturday.
Winger Conor Packwood scored a hat-trick of tries as Tavistock continued their 100 per cent home record.
They were 24-5 up at the break and extended that to 29-5 straight after the interval but St Ives did come back and claimed a try-scoring bonus point.
“In the first half we were well on top,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Cady.
“But they (St Ives) have a lot of old heads who know how to play the game and in the second half they started to make a few in-roads and scoring.
“I suppose you could say we let ourselves down a bit as we were a bit disorganised at times, but then we came right again.
“Yet I’m not going to grumble as at the end of the day we are third in the table, which isn’t a bad place to be.
“It was an entertaining game.”
He added: “They were considerably heavier than us in the pack which looked like it might be an issue, but our scrums were bloody good.
“Our line-out, though, was possibly the worst it has been. I don’t know if it even operated at 50 per cent. It wasn’t that their line-out was operating really great, it was a lot of unforced errors really on our part. It just didn’t click, but our scrum was outstanding.
“Overall, it was a good performance. We ran through multiple phases and a lot of lads had decent games.”
Tavistock scored three unanswered tries courtesy of Jamie Legg, Packwood and Al Spicer, all converted by George Hillson, to go 21-0 up.
Hillson then kicked a penalty before St Ives scored just before the break through Chris Warren to make the half-time score 24-5.
Packwood bagged his second at the start of the second half before Sean Stevens and Jamie Prisk scored within four minutes of each other for St Ives to close the gap to 29-19.
Packwood claimed his hat-trick to give Tavistock some breathing space but St Ives did claim a point with another try from Jamie Prisk.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
SALTASH claimed their biggest league win for nine years as they beat Camborne School of Mines 97-0 at Moorlands Lane on Saturday.
Last season, Saltash did score more than 70 points six times in league games, including a 97-10 win over Newquay, a 86-0 victory over Hayle and an 83-0 triumph over Bodmin.
But Saturday’s victory was actually their biggest in a league game since beating Exeter Saracens 127-12 in December 2014 on their way to promotion to Western West. It could have also been more had they not missed 11 conversions on Saturday.
Saltash ran in 17 tries against Camborne SoM, with 10 coming in the first half in a one-sided contest.
The students, though, never gave up and did keep battling and, having already had one home walkover this season, Saltash will have been grateful that they fulfilled the fixture.
Ollie Crawford started the try scoring by going over in the third minute on the left wing.
The home side played a very expansive fast flowing game which meant that tries came along at regular intervals.
Ryan Simmons charged through five minutes later after some good handling and eight more tries came before half-time from Lewis Wells, Will Morton (3), Billy Dover, Rob Walsh (2) and Ryan Rayner as they led 58-0 at the interval.
The second period was very much a repeat of the first, with lively prop Liall Honey getting a rare try three minutes after the break.
The Ashes kept up their pressure and more tries followed. Hooker Rob Walsh, who had a big game, claimed his hat-trick before winger Morton got his fourth and Jason Carroll, Steve Hillman, Rayner and Ryan Simmons also went over.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
OPMs are finally off the mark in Counties Two Devon after they beat Exmouth II 30-20 away from home on Saturday.
The Old Boys also picked up a bonus point, scoring two tries in each half.
They had gone behind in the fifth minute to an Exmouth try but straight away they hit back with Chris Carpenter going over.
Exmouth went back in front in the 13th minute but back came the OPMs and they took a 13-10 half-time lead courtesy of a try from a scrum by number eight Pete Marr and a Matt Smale penalty.
After the interval, the Old Boys extended their lead to 25-10 early on with a try by James Robinson after Exmouth had messed up a line-out and then another from the restart courtesy of a fine effort by fit-again Fred Smale after Jack Walker and Aaron Stapleton had done well.
Matt Smale then added a penalty before Exmouth came back with two tries.
“We are buzzing,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt after the win. “It was just a good day – everything went well. You could feel the energy and the togetherness in the warm-up.
“It was exactly what we needed and wanted.”
He added: “Maybe in the second half our discipline let us down a bit and we could have kept hold of the ball more than we did. A few penalties got them a bit of field position and they came back a little bit, but overall it was a good day.”
Devonport Services II kept up the pace at the top of the table with a 59-19 home win over Plymouth Argaum.
It was Services II’s fourth straight win of the season and keeps them in second spot.
Their second team was particularly strong on Saturday. First team captain Matt Gregory started as he made his comeback from an operation, Richard West also lined-up in a backline that included Dan Goldstone and Toby Knowles, who had both been in the first team squad the previous week, as had forwards Isaiah Akinrowo and Ethan Millard.
Knowles bagged four tries for Services II, with their others coming from West, Yianni Costas, Brandon Bonser, Ethan Hilland and Jon Mason, with West adding seven conversions.
Argaum managed three tries courtesy of two from Aaron Anderson-Smith and one from the returning Tom Worboys, but frustratingly for them they missed out on the fourth.
“We were a bit disappointed we didn’t get the four tries as we had plenty of opportunities,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery.
“Credit to Services they are playing a good brand of rugby – they move the ball wide and they look very dangerous in attack. Westy was playing for them and he kicked really well both out of hand and off the tee.
“Their backs are just devastating throughout all of their teams at the moment.
“It was a bit frustrating as we had three injuries in the first half so there was nothing I could do to change things. We are just picking up injuries at the moment.
“But our set-piece was an awful lot better this week and we carried a lot better, but Services were really good at ripping the ball in contact – I don’t know if they had been working on that or not.
“They scored two late tries so I think the scoreboard looks a little bit worse that it did.
“But I was so much happier this week than I was last week and there is so much we can still work on.”
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks II showed their massive improvement this season by beating Old Techs 27-8 at Horsham Fields on Saturday in Counties Three Devon South & West.
Oaks II could hardly buy a win last season and finished second-from-bottom, but already this term they have two wins and a draw from their opening four fixtures.
They did have a strong side out against Techs, with Olly Whitfield pulling the strings at nine and Fijians Mitieli Caquara, Tomasi Keresi and Lemeki Digitaki looking dangerous every time they got the ball.
Oaks II had a real cutting edge, which was in contrast to Techs, who had plenty of the ball, particularly in the first 20 minutes when they dominated, but just could not do anything with it.
It was a third defeat in a row for Techs after losses against Dartmouth and Paignton.
“It was a tough day but I think the boys responded well to last week and we actually did play some good stuff in spells, but we did play against a good team,” said Techs coach Dean Oram.
“I think they were playing at a gear higher than us and that was just the difference. In general they were just that little bit quicker.
“We were definitely more organised this week, but we just didn’t quite have that killer edge to really cause them problems.
“I think we need to be fitter. I think if we can up our fitness levels in the squad then will compete even more.
“We are also having to patch over things at the moment and play forwards in the backs.
“But there are lots of positives. We are still getting good numbers at training and the boys are buying into it. There’s also a lot better atmosphere in the club and I think, give it some time, and we will be good.”
Oaks II captain Stu Collyer said: “Having spent the first 20 minutes in our own 22, with Old Techs pushing us off of every scrum, we weathered the storm and came out fighting, with Olly Whitfield at nine dictating the tempo and making a loud call for the first team shirt, and debutants Ollie White and Robbie Hall covering every blade of grass.
“Miti Caqara at eight was outstanding again, with his fellow Fijians, put on an immaculate display.
“Other standout performers were Sam Luke, Joe Spencer, Nathan Akers, and Luke Austin.
“Old Techs came with a strong and confrontational team, but once we had kept them out for 20 minutes, and then saw them fighting against each other, we knew we were more than in the game.”
He added: “Techs are always up for a game with us, and they’ve had a difficult start to the season, but we knew this was a turning point for us as a squad as it’s not often that a second team beat a one team club.
“Techs will go on and challenge in the top half. Dean Oram is a good bloke and a great coach, and I expect them to go from strength-to-strength under his guidance.
“It is early days, but we’re building something really positive here at Oaks.”
Techs started really well and camped on Oaks’ line but they could not score from the pressure.
They did get a kickable penalty on seven minutes that Ben Hockey put over to give them a 3-0 lead.
Oaks had not been out of their half in the opening 10 minutes but they scored the first time they did when from a retreating scrum they threw the ball wide and there was winger Digitaki to score.
Techs continued to press, but they just had no cutting edge and when they were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes Oaks scored from a five-metre scrum courtesy of powerful number eight Caqara.
In first half injury-time it went from bad to worse for Techs who gifted Oaks a try with a length-of-the-field interception score from Keresi, which led to a couple of Techs players remonstrating with each other.
Whitfield added a fourth try after the break for Oaks after great play from the back of a scrum by the impressive Caqara.
Techs kept battling and they were ruled to have been held up over the line in the 70th minute.
Replacement Robbie Tagituimua then scored a brilliant try out of nothing for Oaks before Techs finally got over the whitewash courtesy of Jack Courtney, who was playing on the wing.
Tamar Saracens continued their 100 per cent record with a 31-14 home victory over Torquay Athletic II.
Sarries started really well and went 19-0 with tries by Adam Coutts and two from Dane Waryck. Steve Moran converted two of them.
Torquay pulled one back before half-time courtesy of Jon Woodhead.
Greg Parratt bagged Saracens’ fourth try but Torquay came back and closed it to 24-14 with a converted try by former Brixham and Southend player Joel Armitage.
But Sarries finished strongly and Scott Cooper added a fifth try, which Frazer Tatchell converted.
“In the first 20 minutes we played the best rugby we have played all season,” said Sarries’ Pete Lethbridge.
“We were outstanding, but then we went off the boil. They came with a massive pack and they came back into it. We got dragged into an arm-wrestle and sucked into their game a bit, but then we woke up for the last 10-15 minutes and started spinning the ball wide.
“It was hard work, but I think we needed this game.
“That is probably the biggest pack we have played against for a few seasons.”
Tavistock II had a tough afternoon away at Dartmouth, where they were beaten 47-5, while Plympton Victoria battled hard at Paignton II but went down 32-0.
Saltash II also had a tough day in Counties Three Cornwall as they were beaten 67-7, while in a friendly, a strong Devonport Services III team beat Argaum II 82-15. Billy Sutton scored four tries for Services III, with Harrison Slade bagging three, Fin Hoskins and Leighton Stark both getting two and Joe Rider also bagging one. Stark kicked seven conversions, with Sutton also adding one.
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