HOOKER Aiden Taylor scored a hat-trick of tries as Devonport Services continued their unbeaten home record with a 33-17 win over Devon rivals Exmouth on Saturday in Regional One South West.
With Launceston’s game at Brixham postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, the five points Services picked up at the weekend has moved them up to second in the table behind leaders Chew Valley.
Services did the damage in the first half as they led 23-3 at the break.
They extended their advantage to 30-3 just after the interval before Exmouth came back a bit with a couple converted tries, but those were not enough to really threaten Devonport’s lead.
“We played a very good first half,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
“Our forward pack were brilliant, they really took the game by the scruff of the neck.
“It was just a good team performance, even though we maybe let ourselves down a little bit second half. But we came away with five points, so I’m very happy.”
He added: “They had a bit of a purple patch second half. Exmouth like to throw the ball around and they scored two good tries, but we did enough to win the game.”
Services took the lead early on with a Matt Neyle penalty, but that was quickly cancelled out by one at the other end by Exmouth.
Midway through the first half, Exmouth had lock Oli Mason yellow carded and from the penalty, Services went to the corner and from the line-out, Taylor got his first try of the day.
Five minutes later he scored an almost identical effort to put Services 13-3 ahead.
It got better for the hosts when Andy Pond pounced on a knock-on by Exmouth and broke before feeding Liam Jarvis, who ran in from just inside his own half for Services’ third try. Neyle converted to make it 20-3.
And just on half-time, Devonport were awarded a penalty on the halfway line, which Neyle brilliantly kicked to give his side a 20-point cushion at the break.
After the interval, Exmouth had number eight Dave Bargent sin-binned and once again the hosts went for the corner. From another good line-out move, Taylor bagged his hat-trick and Services’ bonus point. Neyle added the conversion to make it 30-3.
But Exmouth did finally get going and scrum-half Matt Ryan went over for their first try.
Services then kicked the restart out on the full and gave Exmouth the scrum on halfway and from it they eventually scored another try. Full-back Gareth Roebook converted both tries, but Services took the sting out of their momentum with a Neyle penalty.
Services will be looking to continue their good form next weekend they travel to neighbours Ivybridge.
The Bridgers remain second-from-bottom after they lost 60-31 away at leaders Chew Valley on Saturday.
Ivybridge did threaten a bit of a surprise in the first half but Chew pulled away in the second period, although the Bridgers did return with a try-scoring bonus point for their efforts in Somerset.
It was tit-for-tat in the first 25 minutes. Chew kicked an early penalty but then Matt Grieveson responded with one of his own.
Chew then scored a converted try, but Ivybridge came back with one from Sam Brown, which Grieveson converted.
The same thing happened again, but with Charlie Briant scoring for Ivybridge to leave the score level at 17-17 after 25 minutes.
But Chew then had a purple patch and scored three unanswered tries to go 38-17 ahead. However, Ivybridge came back with another converted Brown try to make it 38-24.
The hosts then went 48-24 in front before Owen Garner bagged the Bridgers’ fourth touch-down of the day which closed the gap to 48-31. But Chew pulled away with two tries in the final 20 minutes.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks moved back to the top of Western West after a 34-15 win away at Bideford on Saturday.
Oaks scored four tries in north Devon, with Tom Richards, Matt Jackson, Harvey Courtis and Alex Chapman all crossing the whitewash and player-coach Lewis Paterson converting them all and adding two penalties as well.
“It was a really good win,” said Paterson.
“It was probably one of our more complete performances – we were really clicking.
“In our last few games, like at Tavistock, we just won’t really gelling, but this week we linked up really well, our line-outs went well and our scrums and we attacked from everywhere.”
He added: “Bideford are a good side. I think they are better than the result shows. They had some big boys, so it was a good result for us.”
However, there was disappointment for fourth-placed Tavistock who were beaten 32-26 away by Bude.
Both teams scored four tries, but a couple of late penalties sealed the match for Bude, who had started the day third-from-bottom.
Tavistock, who were missing a number of key players, did pick up two bonus points but head coach Joel Caddy felt his team should have done better.
“We have picked up two points away but it should have been five,” he said. “If we had just knocked our errors down by 25 per cent we would have won that game, and probably comfortably.”
He added: “They played better than us, but we were poor – simple as that. We made too many unforced errors.
“The pitch was good and conditions were decent, but you just can’t make unforced errors. If the opposition force you into errors, that’s fair enough, but you can’t be knocking on simple passes. Also a few times our game-management let us down and we missed a few first-up tackles.
“However, everything that did go wrong is fixable, but it’s down to the lads to fix it for the next game.
“It’s more frustrating than anything. We were as poor as we were but still came so close to winning.
“The lads have come off and they have known they haven’t performed that well.
“The frustrating thing is before this weekend we had beaten the three sides above us in the league, but it is the teams nearer the bottom we seem to have issues with trying to put them away.”
Tavisock took the lead with a try by scrum-half George Hillson, which he also converted.
But Bude hit back and went 12-7 up before Jack Rocks put Tavistock back in front with a converted touch-down.
However, the hosts got a third try before the interval to lead 19-14 and they extended that to 26-14 after the break.
Tavistock pulled level with another try by Hillson and then one by Jack Lewis, but two penalties were enough for Bude to secure the full five points and move out of the bottom three.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
COUNTIES Two Cornwall is now looking like a straight two-horse race between Saltash and Redruth II after they both continued their unbeaten starts to the season.
Saltash overcame Illogan Park 67-0 in difficult conditions at Moorlands Lane, while Redruth II beat Veor 68-17 at the Recreation Ground.
Whereas the top two have not yet lost a match – they don’t meet until December 3 – all the other sides in the division have lost at least three games.
Saltash had to produce a controlled performance in wet conditions to see off a plucky Illogan side who never gave up.
The first Ashes try came after only five minutes when Greg Eatwell burst through to touch down and Ryan Cruickshanks added the extra points.
A try by the dependable Ryan Simmons followed three minutes later which was converted to make it 14-0.
Saltash continued to dominate and from a forward move Rob Walsh got a try on 20 minutes.
And a James Sutton touch-down six minutes later confirmed the Ashes bonus point.
Illogan had the occasional visit into the home half but the tries kept coming before the interval for Saltash courtesy of Lewis Wells and Tom Hollyman both being converted to make it 38-0.
Cruickshanks got the second period off to a fast start with a try on the right wing after just two minutes but it was not until 10 minutes later that Hollyman further increased the Ashes advantage with a touch-down that was again converted to make it 50-0.
Saltash, who handed a debut to Alfie Libby, were playing well and more tries came from fit-again Will Morton (2) and Ryan Rayner before the end which took their tally for the day to 11 tries and six conversions.
In the same division, Liskeard-Looe claimed their fourth win of the season with a 17-7 success away at Bodmin.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
OPMs claimed back-to-back wins for the first time this season with a hard-earned 15-3 victory away at North Tawton.
The Old Boys, who had edged out Honiton at home in their last match, scored a try in each half, with debutant number eight Alistair Douglas crossing in the opening period and winger Elijah Hingston going over in the second half. Matt Smale added a penalty and a conversion.
“We made hard work of it,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt. “The first 30 minutes was all North Tawton.
“I still think we are waiting to gel properly, although we are getting there, but discipline is killing us a bit.”
OPMs did pick up two yellow cards within the space of a minute in the second half but were still able to hang on at Taw Meadow.
The Old Boys now have three wins to their name and they will be hopeful of adding to that tally with games against Ivybridge II and Plymouth Argaum to come in the next two weeks.
Despite Saturday’s win, OPMs still stay in ninth spot but they now have a seven-point lead over Plymouth Argaum in 10th place.
Argaum had to make do with just a try-scoring bonus point from their trip to Honiton, where they were beaten 39-22.
Argaum, playing down the slope first half, had gone 12-5 up with tries by Al Sullivan and Darren Ewers, but Honiton responded and went 27-12 ahead before Adam Fitzpatrick pulled one back before the break.
Honiton then pulled away again after the interval but coach Dean Avery, who had to add himself to the bench when a player dropped out late on, came on and scored a fourth try for the visitors to at least earn them a point.
“We are scoring enough points to win games, but we just need to sort out our defence,” admitted Avery, who said the club were looking to bring in a backs/defensive coach.
He added: “We played with the wind behind us and down the slope first half. Every time we got into their 22 our forwards were outstanding, but we had three not straight line-outs when we were in good positions.
“And every time they got the ball first half it looked like they might score, which was a bit disappointing.
“Second half we had a couple of injuries but we kept the ball a bit better and we managed to pick up a bonus point.
“Honiton said they had the strongest team they’d had out all season and their backs were very good in the mud, but our forwards were very good.
“It just disappointing that we have shipped so many points again when we have scored enough to win the game.
“We struggled a bit with injuries, but no excuses, they probably deserved to win and we need to look at our defence.”
Devonport Services II remain in second place after they beat Ivybridge II 34-17 at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
“We had six under-19s in the pack so we’re very happy,” said Services head coach Ben Russell afterwards.
Former Ivybridge player Lewie Riley set Services on the road to victory with two penalties and then a converted try in the opening 30 minutes.
Ivybridge did give as good as they got in the opening 25 minutes with Drew Bowden and James Sloan scoring tries and Lewis Swatton adding a conversion.
But a Sam Fincham try gave Devonport some breathing space before half-time and then Riley kicked another penalty to make it 24-12.
Ivybridge closed the gap with a try by Gareth Targett but the visitors made sure of the full five points with late tries by Toby Moss and Ethan Hilland.
PLYMPTON Victoria finally got their first win since returning to league rugby as they dug deep to beat Tavistock II 34-24 away at Sandy Park.
Plym Vic scored four tries in the first half and were 22-12 up at the break but Tavistock II hit back after the interval and took a 24-22 lead with 10 minutes to go.
However, two late tries secured Plym Vic the full five points, much to their delight.
“We are very, very pleased,” said chairman Chris Hunt. “The lads have worked massively hard for it.
“It was a good day. It all just came together pretty well.
“We started really well, but at half-time we maybe took our foot of the gas a bit.
“Tavistock were a bit light on numbers, but having been 10 points behind they clawed it back to be leading by two points with 10 minutes to go. But that last seven or eight minutes from us was really pleasing. The lads really stuck to their task.
“There’s a really good feeling around the club now and we just need to try and kick on now.”
Plym Vic were particularly pleased to score six tries.
“We were very pleased with our offence,” said Hunt. “A lot of our tries came out wide so we did play with a bit of expansion and we also defended well.”
Chris Barratt, Lee James, Pete Shinner, Ollie Pile, Kobe Bryant and Ross Charles scored tries for Plym Vic, with Jordan Blair adding two conversions.
Centre Mac Tuckwell scored a hat-trick of tries for Tavistock II, with Sean Donnelly bagging their other. Tuckwell and Donnelly also both added a conversion.
Old Techs are waiting to see if their 12-8 victory over Salcombe at Weston Mill will stand after the game had to finish a few minutes early due to what appeared a serious knee injury to a Salcombe player.
The match was in the final minute of normal time, although according to the referee’s watch there six minutes to play including stoppage time, when the injury occurred.
The medical staff did not want to risk moving the player and an ambulance was called, but after a 25-minute wait, the referee decided to abandon the match, where all the scoring had come in the opening 19 minutes.
“I feel we probably deserved the win as we were slightly the better team,” said Techs head coach Dean Oram. “But conditions weren’t great.
“I felt there were still plenty of positives. The boys are trying to buy into the system, but we sometimes just lose our way a little bit when we get tired.”
Techs will again be frustrated that they did not turn territory into points. They spent the first 15 minutes of the second half camped on Salcombe’s line with scrum after scrum, but they did not get anything for their efforts.
They had started the match really well and took the lead in the eighth minute when after a series of scrums, number eight Josh O’Hara took a quick tap penalty and dived over the line.
But five minutes later Techs went back in front with another try by the powerful O’Hara, who broke from the back of another good scrum. Ben Hockey converted that effort to make it 12-5.
Almost straight from the restart, Salcombe got a penalty which Kieron Clarke kicked.
The first 20 minutes had been quite entertaining, despite the weather, but after the rain stopped the game lost its way and there was no more scoring, with both sides on the day appearing to have better defences than attacks.
Techs should have really scored in the first 15 minutes of the second period when they won a series of penalties and had a host of scrums on Salcombe’s line.
After relieving that pressure, Salcombe then had a good five-minute spell themselves but Techs defended well.
Neither side really looked like they were going to score again before the match unfortunately ended a few minutes early.
There was disappointment for Plymstock Albion Oaks II who narrowly lost 14-13 at home to Torquay II.
Centre Ollie Elliott-Smith scored all Oaks’ points with a try, a conversion and two penalties.
Tamar Saracens’ game away at Paignton II was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
In Counties Three Cornwall, Saltash II were beaten 99-7 at Polson Bridge by a strong Launceston II side, which included former Devonport Services prop Greg Thomas.
Pictures are low resolution and are protected by copyright so should not be used without permission.