DEVONPORT Services could not have come closer to upsetting leaders Chew Valley in Somerset on Saturday in Regional One South West.
Services narrowly lost 12-11 but had a chance right at the death to win it.
They did score the only try of the game courtesy of flanker James Hocking in the first half, but they were left feeling they did not get the rub of the green at Chew Lane.
“I would say we deserved to win it, but it was just one of those things,” said head coach Ben Russell, whose team felt a few decisions that went against them on the day.
“Our ‘D’ was exceptional. Chew did not score a try and I could not ask for anymore in defence or anymore from the performance really.
“They have scored five or six tries against every team this year but they couldn’t score against us.
“I think we were the better side on the day and we deserved to win, but it was two evenly matched sides. It was two teams playing at a high intensity, with physicality and not backing down. It was a bit of a war of attrition.”
Services were missing a number of players, including captain Matt Gregory, full-back Harrison Coonick and half-backs Dylan Daley, Kieran Down and Richard West. It meant former Saltash forward Kyle Felton made his debut in Services’ first team squad. He was joined on the bench by Tom West, who was also promoted from the second team.
Services narrowly trailed 6-5 at the break, with Hocking scoring in the 15th minute. They then went 8-6 in front at the start of the second half with a penalty from Matt Neyle before the lead changed three more times with penalty kicks.
The visitors did have a line-out to win the game. They thought Chew collapsed their maul on the line, but the referee gave the hosts the scrum and they were able to hang on for the win.
Ivybridge had a weekend to forget as they were beaten 55-7 away at much-fancied Barnstaple.
Although the Bridgers had only won one of their previous five games – their last fixture against St Austell – all their results had been close and they had five bonus points from five games.
But they were well beaten by Barnstaple, who have proved formidable at home so far this term with wins over Services, Brixham and Weston-super-Mare at Pottington Road.
The north Devon club had the bonus point for scoring four tries in the bag by half-time, with touch-downs from Ryan Lee, Dan Johnson (2) and Kyran Mcmanus.
After the interval Barnstaple added five more tries with Cameron Johnson and Brandon Moore both bagging two to go with one from Ben Beattie. Former Plymouth Albion captain Jake Murphy added five conversions for the hosts.
Ivybridge’s only points came from a 60th-minute try by Ben Watts, which Sam Brown converted.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
Tavistock triumphed 27-26 in a thrilling derby match at Sandy Park that went right down to the final play.
Oaks, who had Ryan Wills sent off midway through the second half, had a great chance right at the end with a five-metre line-out but Tavistock defended it brilliantly to win the game and keep their unbeaten home record alive.
Both teams did score four tries with influential scrum-half George Hillson bagging two for Tavistock to go with Schuttacker’s effort and one for Conor Packwood, while Corey Jamieson, Alex Broughton, Jamie Shone and Chey Bryce crossed for Oaks.
Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy said afterwards: “We nearly contrived to give it away at the end, but I’m well chuffed. It was a good game.
“We had a few issues at times at the breakdown and one thing or another, but the lads came through.
“The line-out was a huge improvement on the previous few weeks and was back to where it normally is.
“They had a fairly heavy pack, but our front-row and the whole lot of them did well. All up, I’m pretty happy with that.
“There are things to work on, but every week there’s something to improve on.
“It’s been a pretty good weekend for us, with Schuey’s 250th game and Leggy (Jamie Legg) becoming a dad.”
Tavistock sit in fourth place and they have beaten all the teams above them at home.
Oaks do stay top despite the loss and their head coach Lewis Paterson felt Wills’ red card for what the referee deemed a dangerous tackle was costly.
“I’m not taking anything away from Tavistock, but they have beaten a 14-man team by one point and we could have beaten them at the end if that line-out had gone right,” said Paterson.
“Our defence was so much better this week, but it was just our penalty count. We can’t keep playing with 14 men every week.
“I’m proud of the boys as we could have won that on that last play. They are all wooing because they have beaten us but we have played with 14 men and we have still come away with two league points.
“When you are at the top and undefeated then everyone is coming for that zero.
“We knew it was going to be a good test and that they were going to be pretty good, but they weren’t as good as we thought against 14 men.
“There’s loads of stuff to be proud of – we have come away from home and Tavistock have this really good home record and yet we almost beaten them at the end of the game.”
Tavistock were slow starting and made a lot of errors in the opening 15 minutes, including missing touch twice with penalties.
Oaks, in contrast, came flying out of the blocks. Number eight Broughton had a try ruled out in just the second minute for a forward pass but they did keep the pressure on and in the eighth minute they got the try they threatened when Jamieson went over behind the posts after some good passing. Paterson added the conversion via the post.
Eventually Tavistock did settle and Hillson pulled them level when he picked up and went himself from 15 metres. Despite desperate Oaks tackling, he was able to stretch out and score. He also added the conversion.
But the hosts were not level for long as almost immediately Oaks went up the other end and Broughton scored after Matt Jackson had done really well down the left wing. Paterson added the conversion.
The visitors then picked up a yellow card and just before half-time Schuttacker got his try when he powered over for 15 metres to leave the half-time score at 14-12 to Oaks.
Straight after the interval, Tavistock picked up a yellow card and Oaks took advantage to increase their lead to 19-12 with a Shone try down the right wing.
But then Tavistock enjoyed a real purple patch. Hillson scored his second with a long-range effort after Ethan Lamerton had done well to off-load him the ball in a tackle. Hillson added the conversion to level the match.
Hillson then caught Oaks out again. The hosts were awarded a penalty in a kickable position. Most people expected them to go for goal but Hillson tapped it quickly and broke before feeding Packwood on the right to score and make it 24-19.
Oaks then had replacement Wills sent off for what the referee deemed a dangerous tackle and Hillson kicked the penalty to put his side two scores in front at 27-19 with 12 minutesy, plus injury-time, to play.
But four minutes later Bryce gave Oaks hope with a try that Pete Keanie converted to make it a one score game.
Packwood thought he had won it for Tavistock with a late try but it was ruled out as the referee said he had been tackled earlier.
That allowed Oaks to get out of their half and a 50-22 gave them a great chance. Tavistock stole that line-out but the visitors got a penalty not long later. They went for the corner. There was a big debate about whether the ball had gone out of play or not, but the referee decided it had and gave Oaks the five-metre line-out.
Both sets of players knew time was up. Oaks did win the line-out and drove but Tavistock dug deep to hold them up and get the scrum. The hosts knew they just had to hold the scrum and then kick the ball out. Oaks really put pressure on the set-piece but the hosts, after one re-set, were able to get the ball out to win the match.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
COUNTIES Two Cornwall leaders Saltash produced an impressive second half performance as they beat St Austell II 76-17 at Moorlands Lane.
The eagerly-awaited game between two of the league’s forerunners and was evenly contested up until the interval but in the second period the visitors just could not keep up with the pace of the Ashes.
The first home try came in the second minute from a kick ahead with Saltash left winger Lewis Stuart touching down.
He crossed the line again after receiving a pass by Lewis Wells after five minutes for a try which was converted by Ryan Cruickshanks.
St Austell hit back and drove through the Ashes defence for a try three minutes later but a penalty by Cruickshanks increased Saltash’s lead to 15-5.
Play continued to be from one end to the other until the 39th minute when, following a scrum close to the Ashes line, St Austell pushed over for a converted try.
But immediately Saltash went up the other end and Wells charged over under the posts for a converted try to put his side 22-12 ahead at the interval.
The second period was only two minutes old when Danny Snook crossed for a converted try to further increase the Ashes advantage but a big effort from St Austell’s forwards saw them push over the home line to make it 29-17.
However, from then onwards the visitors fell away and tries were scored regularly by Cruickshanks, Lewis Woolaway (2), Ryan Rayner (2), Stuart and Snook.
Cruickshanks was in good kicking form and added nine conversions plus a penalty.
It was a good performance by Saltash, with Billy Dover, Stuart and Rayner particularly impressing.
Saltash have a 100 per cent record and are averaging more than 60 points a game. However, Redruth II, who they do not play until the start of December, are keeping pace with them and are the only other unbeaten team in the division.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
A LATE Lewis Riley penalty secured Devonport Services II a hard-earned 13-10 home victory over South Molton on Saturday.
The win keeps Services II in second place behind leaders Torquay Athletic.
The hosts took the lead in the second minute when new centre signing Charlie Groves scored a try. Groves did play junior rugby at Services but later went to Ivybridge and then Plymouth Albion. He had been playing for Redruth this season but is believed to have been keen to play closer to home.
Riley converted that try to put Services II 7-0 up.
But South Molton, who arrived at the Rectory with just one defeat to their name, hit back with a Luke Morris touch-down.
Riley then kicked a penalty on 30 minutes to give Services II a 10-5 lead at the break.
A George Down try pulled South Molton level, but a minute from time Services II got a penalty and Riley put it over to win the game for his side.
Meanwhile, it was a disappointing weekend for the rest of the region’s sides in the division.
OPMs were beaten 51-12 away at Exeter Saracens, who scored eight tries.
The hosts led 29-0 at half-time with touch-downs from Oliver Banwell (2), Tommie Drennan and Ben Cowley and nine points from the boot of Harvey Moore.
Exeter Saracens did pick up a yellow card at the start of the second half and Fred Smale closed the gap with a try, which Sam Matts converted, but tries by Tom Whitfield, Dominic Boots-Hutchings and Stephen Brown put the home side 44-7 ahead.
Elijah Hingston scored a second for OPMs, but Exeter completed the scoring with a try by Levi Richards.
“We were still in Elburton; we just didn’t turn up,” admitted OPMs captain Billy Garratt afterwards.
“We did well scrummaging and line-out wise with a very scratch forward pack.
“Credit to them; they did well, but our defence was a bit terrible. There was too many people watching what was going on. We got turned over a lot and our support play was a bit rubbish.
“It didn’t help that we had about 36 unavailable this weekend.
“They (Exeter Saracens) recognised we weren’t quite there and they capitalised on it.
“They were on the back of three wins so they had their tails up and were confident. They were also at home.”
Plymouth Argaum also had a day to forget. They were beaten 101-0 away by in-form league leaders Torquay Athletic, who are coached by former Plymouth Albion forward Dan Williams.
Torquay were 50-0 up at half-time and never let up against a makeshift Argaum team.
“It was a very tough day at the office,” admitted Argaum head coach Dean Avery.
“We went with a lot of new people who put their hands up and said they were willing to travel.
“A lot of people didn’t travel for various reasons, which is a bit disappointing really.
“You can’t travel to Torquay with a scratch side and expect to come away with anything, which is what happened.
“I am really grateful for all the guys that did pull a shirt on, but Torquay were just far better than us in all areas of the field. Dan Williams is doing a good job up there. They were well-drilled.
“Joel Armitage played prop for them and he caused us quite a lot of problems as he carried very hard, but we didn’t tackle very well.
“To be honest, our scrums and lined-outs functioned reasonably well, but they were just a better team.
“Torquay are a very good side and they went a few tries up and there was no way back into the game. They just turned the screw. It was a bad day at the office.”
He added: “We gave some people a hammering like that last year and what goes around comes around, but we don’t want to be losing like that.”
Ivybridge II also suffered a heavy defeat. They were beaten 52-10 at home by Withycombe.
All Ivybridge’s points came in the final 12 minutes courtesy of a penalty by Lewis Swatton and a converted try by Jack Mitchell.
The Bridgers stay at the foot of the table, with Argaum third-from-bottom and OPMs fourth-from-bottom.
TAMAR Saracens remain top of Counties Three Devon South & West after they beat bottom side Totnes 67-5 away.
Sarries were 50-5 up at the break but lost their way a little bit second half, although Totnes did up their game.
“Totnes had 21 players available this week and, fair play to them, they stuck at it,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge.
“We did go off the boil a bit second half, but we were so far in front. Our scrummaging was good, our rucks were good and our backs played well. We also had no injuries or cards so it was a good day.”
Sarries took the lead with a try by scrum-half Lewis Harris, which Tom Rigby converted.
Chad Smith and Jake Blasdale scored further tries to put them 19-0 up.
Totnes did score a touch-down themselves but backs Rigby, Joe McKinley (2), Dane Waryck, Steve Moran went over for Sarries before half-time to give them a 45-point advantage.
McKinley impressed at full-back on his first start for the club and he claimed his hat-trick towards the end of the game after Scott Cooper and Ryan Deacon had also touched down.
Billy Evans scored a match-winning try as Old Techs edged out Tavistock II 29-22 in a good game at Weston Mill.
Evans actually finished the game with four tries to his name from number eight, with Ben Hockey scoring Techs’ other.
Tavistock II were leading 12-10 at half-time. Techs came back to make it 15-10 before Tavistock II went 22-15 ahead only for Evans to score twice to win the match for the hosts after the visitors had picked up a red card in the closing stages.
Ed Tait scored twice for the visitors, with Rob Grove also getting one and Freddie Fuller kicking two conversions and a penalty.
“They (Tavistock II) are not a bad side and they will turn a few teams over,” said Techs chairman David Evans.
“They did not have much of a scrum but their backs were really lively.
“It was a good win for us and we showed a bit of heart there. We are a team that never give up.”
Plymstock Albion Oaks II stay in fourth place after they beat neighbours Plympton Victoria 56-19 at Horsham Fields.
Oaks II scored 10 tries, with Luke Austin and Scott Williams both getting two and Connor Thompson, Ollie Elliot-Smith, Ollie White, Robbie Hall, Owen Koehler and Will Scantlebury also crossing.
All Plym Vic’s tries came in the first half with Harry Towle and Dan Warne scoring within four minutes of each other and the Kobe Bryant crossing. Stand-in captain Chris Barrett converted two of the tries.
In Counties Three Cornwall, Saltash II were beaten 67-0 away at a strong Hayle side, who had been in Counties Two last season.
In am Devon/Armada Merit Table fixture, Devonport Services III beat University of Plymouth III 34-12 at home.
Services III led 12-5 at half-time thanks to tries by Ben Wadham and Mike Kelly, with a Jack Chaney conversion.
But the hosts pulled away further in the second period with further scores from Wadham (2), Josh Martin and Stu Bartlett.
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