DEVONPORT Services remain in third place in Regional One South West after a comfortable 55-7 home victory over bottom side Weston-super-Mare.
Despite missing a host of players, Services ran in eight tries to continue their impressive home form.
They have won all four of their matches at the Rectory so far this season and are averaging more than 45 points per game on home soil.
Weston, who impressed in the scrums, did make them work quite hard in the first half, but the floodgates opened a bit after the interval.
“As the scoreline reflects, it was a bit one-sided, but they did have us in the scrum in the first half until their front-row tired,” said team manager Kieran Leach.
“I think Weston just ran out of bit of speed and we went wide which is where we scored most of our points.”
Services were without Matt Gregory, James Hocking, Dylan Daley, Dan Goldstone, Harrison Coonick, Freddie Davies, Joe Daley and James McFarlane.
With Dylan Daley and Goldstone unavailable it meant a debut at scrum-half for Billy Sutton, who had played in the thirds and seconds this season.
There was also a debut start for former Saltash player Kyle Felton in the second-row, while Tom West started at fly-half, with Kieran Down lining up at full-back. There was also a debut from the bench for new signing Charlie Groves. Veteran Tony Sibley was also on the bench to provide front-row cover.
Services got off to a great start with flanker Liam Jarvis scoring in the first minute.
It got better 11 minutes later when Jarvis made a break before off-loading to Mike Rickard, who in turn fed centre Tom Davies to score under the posts. Down converted that effort to make it 12-0.
Devonport struggled to win scrum ball early on but they finally got a penalty at the set-piece on 27 minutes which Down kicked to increase his side’s advantage.
And, just before half-time, Jarvis added his second after an earlier break by Sutton and a cross-field kick that Weston never cleared.
Services got the start to the second half that they wanted with number eight Mark Friend making a good break from the back of a scrum before Toby Knowles and Groves produced a good one-two with the later scoring on his debut.
Matt Neyle converted that effort and then he scored the next try, which started a real purple patch for the hosts, who added two more within six minutes.
Knowles got the next one after a quick tap penalty before hooker Aiden Taylor scored from a line-out to make it 48-0.
Weston did claim a consolation effort with a fine try from winger Ollie Caton, but Services had the final word when prop Oli Symons showed a good turn of speed before off-loading to Tom Davies, who went over under the posts for his second of the match.
Ivybridge have dropped to second from bottom in the division after they lost 42-25 at home to Devon rivals Brixham on Saturday.
The Bridgers did battle hard, but they struggled with their line-out and scrums and also paid for the amount of penalties they gave away, particularly in the first half.
Brixham scored two unanswered tries in the opening 10 minutes to take hold of the game early on and every time Ivybridge did threaten a comeback with a try, they then switched off again and allowed their visitors to instantly reply.
“From three of the scores we got they have then scored straight away so it cancelled them out,” said a disappointed Ivybridge head coach Davy McGregor.
“We need to learn that when we have the foot on the throat a little bit that we can learn to build the scoreboard.
“But it was a big lead to try and come back from.”
He added: “I think I counted about 16 moments when we had the ball but just gave it away – five or six line-outs, three turnover scrums and in the first half we kicked the ball away seven or eight times.
“It is frustrating when you build up really well in the week but unfortunately games aren’t won in the week.
“There is probably a tag on us now where we are seen as maybe a little bit soft as a side and that we will be an easy win for some. It’s a pride thing now for us as a group.
“The biggest concern for me is that’s it’s another scalp at home and now the fortress thing does not belong anymore.
“I think we are in a position where we need to trust the systems. When we did trust the systems we were breaking them down, but we possibly weren’t getting the rub of the green with some decisions.
“There were four penalties for high tackles in the 22, but there was no card given and that changed the shift of the game. We also scored a try that wasn’t seen, little things like that early in the game makes a massive impact.
“But ultimately we can’t rely on the man in the middle to be on our side we need to paint the right pictures. We didn’t paint the right picture at scrum-time and at tackle height time. Rightly or wrongly we are giving a picture and he goes with it.”
He added: “Our set-piece is a weak part of our game. We know that and we are not shying away from that.”
Ivybridge did turn to some experienced heads to try and change their fortunes, with Jamie Tripcony and Tom Scoles returning the starting line-up and club chairman Jay Geraty named on the bench to provide some front-row cover.
But they conceded a try almost straight from kick-off. They gave away a penalty in the first few seconds and Brixham went for the corner and at their second attempt of a drive they scored through Harry Rodwell and former Ivybridge player Mitch Pinkus added the conversion.
Pinkus then missed a long-range penalty from his own half before he scored a fine try after a great 50-22 kick from him secured his side a line-out. From the set-piece the visitors moved the ball quickly inside and there was the fly-half to touch-down next to the posts. He also added the simple conversion.
Ivybridge gave away far too many penalties in the first 15 minutes but they finally got one of their own on 16 minutes and they used it to get up the field and eventually score. Following a line-out, Ivybridge move, Matt Grieveson fed Charlie Briant to touch down. Grieveson added the conversion to make it 14-7.
But straight from the restart Brixham responded when full-back Joel Ashworth broke before feeding former Plymouth Albion winger Matt Crosscombe to score down the right and make it 21-7.
Adam Northcott was an inch away from scoring for Ivybridge on 29 minutes but the hosts did get a penalty which Grieveson kicked to reduce the gap to 11 points.
However, again from the restart, Ivybridge switched off and Brixham got a scrum from which they attacked. Two Ivybridge players slipped trying to tackle winger Jordan Green, who went in unopposed. Pinkus converted from out wide to make it 28-10.
Grieveson reduced the gap slightly with a penalty before Ivybridge knocked on with a great chance at the end of half.
The hosts did camp in Brixham’s half for the opening 15 minutes of the second period but could not add any points and in the 57th minute the Fishermen, on their first real foray into Ivybridge’s half second half, scored with a fine try by Ashworth to make it 35-13.
Ivybridge did respond with a try in the left corner by Scoles, which Grieveson converted, but they lost a number of line-outs when trying to cut the gap further.
After one line-out loss, Brixham attacked and got a scrum on the 22 from which winger Green scored.
Ivybridge did get a bonus point when Scoles went over for their fourth try in the 73rd minute, but it was not much consolation for them after a sixth loss in seven games. It also does not get any easier for them with games against Chew Valley, Devonport Services and Exmouth to come in their next three fixture.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
TAVISTOCK finally got their first away win in Western West with a 37-19 success at bottom side Wiveliscombe.
They had been agonisingly close to winning their previous three away trips but had to settle for one draw and two one-score defeats.
However, despite missing a number of forwards and picking up a red card, they collected a full five points in Somerset on Saturday to stay fourth in the table.
“We had some changes, but the lads stood up to the challenge very well,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“We played with the slope first half and we probably should have scored a few more points than we did. Potentially we weren’t maybe ahead enough as we knew what was to come second half from them, as it’s their pitch and they won the toss and elected to play uphill first half, but I almost think we played better second half.
“They did get back into the game and we conceded a couple of tries, but the lads dug deep.
“With our line speed we forced them into a number of errors.”
He added: “We had three of last year’s colts and another three lads who were colts the year before in the team and those young lads really stood up.
“A lot of lads put in decent shifts.
“We’re happy. We’ve got 11 points from four away games so far. If we continue that for the rest of the season we’ll have quite a few points.”
Tavistock, who lost winger Conor Packwood to a knee injury in the warm-up, went 19-0 up with tries by Jack Easton, Liam Watts and Hammy Kerswill.
Wiveliscombe pulled one back before Ed Tait, who had replaced Packwood in the team, picked up a yellow card. However, Tavistock did increase their lead while he was off with a George Hillson penalty. That gave them a 22-7 lead at the break.
The hosts cut the gap early in the second half but then Jamie Legg secured Tavistock their bonus-point try. Hillson then got his usual try, which he also converted. He also added a penalty before Legg was red carded for what the referee deemed a dangerous tackle.
Wiveliscombe did score a late try but it was not enough to secure them anything.
Plymstock Albion Oaks’ game with Tiverton had to be abandoned in the 55th minute due to an injury to the referee.
League leaders Oaks were narrowly leading 8-7 at the time thanks to a try by Jamie Shone and a Lewis Paterson penalty.
The first half, where Oaks had played up the hill an into the wind, had ended 0-0.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
SALTASH kept up the pace at the top of Counties Two Cornwall with a 48-7 away victory at Helston.
Helston, who had only lost one game before Saturday, did make the Ashes work hard for their points at King George V Playing Fields.
The visitors took just two minutes to get on the scoreboard when lock Lewis Woolaway went over on the right for a 5-0 lead.
However, it was not until the 22nd minute that the lead was extended when Saltash full-back Ryan Cruickshanks added a brace of tries and one conversion to make it 17-0.
The Ashes then added a further two tries through winger Lewis Stuart and a second from Woolaway to lead 29-0 at the break.
Helston came out a more determined side in the second half although again Saltash scored first through a Cruickshanks try, which he also converted to put his side 36-0 ahead.
Helston scored a try of their own through prop Stuart Ferguson, which Mickey Hutton converted, to narrow the gap slightly.
But Saltash added two further tries – Cruickshanks bagged his fourth of the afternoon and Stuart his second to complete the scoring.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
OPMs overcame conceding two early tries to claim a much-needed 18-16 home win over Honiton in Counties Two Devon.
It was only the Old Boys’ second victory since promotion and was the perfect way to bounce back from their 51-12 defeat away at Exeter Saracens the previous week.
“We’re very happy,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt, who admitted the win was needed.
“There were a lot of positives this week, a lot.”
OPMs, though, got off to terrible starting conceding two tries in the opening eight minutes to go 10-0 down.
“Their first two tries came directly from our mistakes,” said Garratt.
“We didn’t catch the ball at a line-out and they jumped on it and then ran it through a couple of sets of hands before scoring.
“And their second one I think was also off another line-out. I think we fumbled it in the air and they capitalised on it and ran in and scored the try.
“We then sort of realised that they were living off our mistakes. They were good at picking up that ball on the floor and going forward when our defence did not re-align properly.
“But once we recognised that we cut that part of their game out and then they really didn’t have a lot left to battle us with.”
A penalty by Matt Smale got OPMs going in the 22nd minute and three minutes later they scored their first try courtesy of Fred Smale.
The hosts went in front for the first time just before half-time with a penalty by Sam Matts.
After the interval Honiton kicked two penalties to lead 16-11 with 20 minutes to go, but a try by centre Callum Morgan, which Matts converted, was enough for the win.
Recent signing Brandon Chaston made his home debut at hooker on Saturday.
“He impressed quite a bit,” said Garratt. “He’s quick around the park, his throwing in was quite good at the line-out and he scrummaged really well as well.”
Plymouth Argaum did re-group following their 101-0 hammering with a weakened team at Torquay Athletic the previous week, but could not pick up any points from a 40-21 home defeat to in-form Exeter Saracens.
Argaum were 14-7 up and it was all-square at half-time, but a couple of quick tries by the visitors after the interval took the game away from the hosts.
“The attitude of all the players and the availability was so much better,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery.
“But we just had a lapse in the second half where they scored two tries straight after each other to just pull away.
“In the last 10 or 15 minutes we had numerous chances in their 22. We missed touch I think three times during the game and it is just those little things like that which add up.
“We also just weren’t quite quick enough. They have a few good boys in the back-row who were getting hold of the ball as we weren’t clearing well enough.
“It was disappointing we didn’t pick up a result, but it is definitely a step in the right direction and something we can work with.
“It was just frustrating as we made some mistakes and before we know it the game is almost over when it felt like we were going to get something out of it. It’s disappointing that we didn’t.”
Owen Gocher, Adam Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tunnicliffe scored Argaum’s tries which were all converted by Jake Turfrey.
Second-placed Devonport Services II kept the pace on leaders Torquay Athletic with a spirited comeback against Withycombe.
Services II had been 17-0 down at Raleigh Park but hit back to win 40-31, despite conceding two penalty tries.
The visitors, who finished strongly, ended up scoring five tries, with Ben Callard and Isaiah Akinrowo both bagging two and Sam Fincham also crossing the whitewash. Richard West kicked three conversions and three penalties.
Ivybridge II have dropped to the foot of the table after a narrow 21-19 defeat at previously winless North Tawton.
OLD Techs had to dig deep to claim a 24-7 bonus point win away at league newcomers Plympton Victoria.
It looked like Plym Vic were going to deny Techs a bonus point but the visitors scored a fourth try courtesy of James Douglas right at the death.
Douglas ended up with two tries, with Rudi Baker and Jack Williams also crossing for Techs. Dan Warne scored a try for Plym Vic, which Chris Barratt converted.
“Plym Vic played really well,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “They have some big lads up front and throw it around a bit as well. We knew they would give us a good game.
“They put us under quite a bit of pressure second half and only some dogged defence kept them out.
“And then we scored right at the end to get the bonus point.
“It was quite a scrappy game and it wasn’t a great performance from us, but we dogged it out. Sometimes you just have to win ugly.”
Plym Vic chairman Chris Hunt said: “We played really well and defended well. We are building up from the bottom starting with defence and our systems and we are maybe not quite there yet with our offence, but I thought we acquitted ourselves really well.
“We have not played Techs for many years and we know they have some hard-hitting boys, but we stood up well.
“We now just have to work on that extra five per cent.”
He added: “In our first five or six games back in the league we played some of the big teams and it was maybe a bit of a culture shock for the boys, but I think we have ridden that out now and are starting to find our feet.
“It was an enjoyable game and we pleased as, like I said, the lads felt they acquitted themselves well.”
Leaders Tamar Saracens were handed a home walkover by Kingsbridge II. It is the second time this season Kingsbridge II have not travelled to Plymouth having also handed Old Techs a walkover at the start of the season.
Plymstock Albion Oaks II’s four-game winning run was ended on Saturday by Salcombe, who triumphed 34-20 at their place.
Oaks II, who had to reshuffle their team, made a great start with Andy Porter, debutant Wais Volavola and Matty Jackson scoring tries in the opening 20 minutes. They led 20-14 at the turnaround.
“The first half was brilliant, we stuck to our systems, with Ryan Wills leading from the front and Wais along with Matty Jackson causing Salcombe all sorts of problems,” said captain Stu Collyer.
“Unfortunately, the second half was the Salcombe show as we took our foot off the gas or maybe ran out of a little gas.
“Salcombe played the slope well and they were far more clinical and gained the momentum.
“We were disappointed to throw away a good lead, and to lose, but with our lack of numbers and players out of position, there were plenty of positives to take from the game, and Salcombe is always a tricky place to visit.”
Tavistock II moved up to ninth by beating bottom side Totnes 31-15 at Sandy Park.
It was only Tavistock II’s second victory since coming into the league.
Jacob Mitchell and Chris Watts both scored two tries for Tavistock II, with Rob Grove bagging their other. Freddie Fuller converted three of the five tries.
In Counties Three Cornwall, Saltash II, with Will Morton in their side, ran in 19 tries to beat bottom side Redruth Albany 105-0.
The visitors travelled up short of numbers and Saltash did help them out to get the game on but it was a one-sided contest.
Meanwhile, in the Devon Armada Merit Table, Devonport Services III beat The Medics 24-17 thanks to tries by Gwydion Jenkins (2), Gary Mitchell and Jacob Roberts, who also added two conversions. The match was evenly-balanced at 12-12 with 20 minutes to go.
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