DEVONPORT Services kept the pressure on at the top of the South West Premier with a 28-18 home victory over fellow high-flyers Launceston.
A converted Freddie Davies try with the last play of the game made sure Services picked up the full five points and also robbed their Tamar rivals of a bonus point.
Services, who are still unbeaten at home this season, remain in third place, but they are level on points with second-placed Barnstaple and are only two points behind leaders Chew Valley.
“We got five points and they got zero, which is what we aimed for at the start of the game,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
“The forwards really fronted up and took them on and our defence was cracking.”
He added: “The weather made the game a fight up front and we won the fight up front.
“We drove them all over the place in mauls and we dominated scrums at times, but it was close. It was 8-8 at half-time.
“In the second half we completely had territory and field position. I think we had the ball on their line for about 20 minutes, but just didn’t execute and they did everything they could to stop us. But we stuck at it and I think it was a fair result in the end.”
Launceston, who arrived at the Rectory with only one defeat to their name all season, took the lead with an unconverted try in the corner by winger Ben Bryant.
But the hosts reduced the gap with a Kieran Down penalty.
However, in the 18th minute, Devonport had centre Tom Davies sin-binned and from the resultant penalty, Dan Pearce put over the three points to put Launceston 8-3 ahead.
Just before the break, though, Services levelled with a try in the corner from captain Matt Gregory.
Devonport, with hooker Aiden Taylor and flanker Liam Jarvis leading the way, really used their forwards well in the second half.
Taylor gave them the lead straight after the interval with a try from a catch-and-drive move.
But then Launceston had a good little spell and Pearce kicked a second penalty to cut the gap to 13-11.
He then scored a converted try to put the Cornish All Blacks 18-13 ahead.
However, Services then got on top. After wasting some good pressure, they did pull level with another drive try for Taylor before Matt Neyle kicked a penalty to edge them 21-18 in front.
With time running out, Launceston started throwing it around in desperation to find a winning try and in doing so, Freddie Davies picked off a pass and ran in from 40 metres for Services’ fourth touch-down.
Devonport did defend well in the closing stages to force Launceston back and pressure them into the mistake.
Ivybridge suffered an afternoon to forget as they were beaten 60-14 away at Devon rivals Exmouth.
With just one more game to go before the halfway mark in the season, the Bridgers find themselves second from bottom with just one win to their name.
“There’s no beating around the bush, it has been a tough season,” admitted head coach Davy McGregor.
“It didn’t help this week that we had three or four pull-outs on Friday. Up until 10.30pm we weren’t quite sure of our first XV, which does negate a bit of confidence.
“But I was very impressed with Exmouth. I thought they were very good.”
He added: “For the first 15 minutes we were really comfortable, although we did let them have a soft try, but then unfortunately just the power game broke us down a bit.
“We are just struggling a bit with that consistency in our squad.
“The pitch wasn’t good, but they played it better than we did.
“I know the score doesn’t reflect it, but I think the lads are showing more fight for each other and we did fight right to the end and got a late try.
“You do have to take what positives you can and at one point the average age was 21.
“We haven’t had the same XV in any game yet and that doesn’t help.
“But we are fortunate that the teams around us aren’t pulling away so we are still in the fight.”
Exmouth took the lead in the seventh minute with an unconverted try by Matt Ryan.
But four minutes later Ivybridge went ahead with front-rower Henry Trudgill crossing the whitewash and Matt Grieveson added the extras.
Exmouth, though, scored four tries in the final 20 minutes of the half through Nick Headley (2), Gareth Roebuck and Charlie Gibbins to take a 31-7 half-time lead.
They then scored five unanswered tries after the interval through Jake Inglis, Ollie Mason, Dave Bargent, Lewis Geran and Ollie Cave before Sam Brown did at least bag a consolation effort for Ivybridge, which Grieveson converted.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks continue to set the pace in Western West after they claimed a 33-7 away with at Falmouth.
League leaders Oaks did the damage in the first half in Cornwall and by early in the second half they were leading 26-0.
“It was good, but it could have been an even bigger score,” said head coach Lewis Paterson afterwards on the win
“We knew it was going to be a tough game as they have had some close games down there, but we just went down and played like we have been doing.”
Paterson said it was quite frustrating how often the game was slowed down, but said: “We did our best to raise the tempo with tap-and-goes which they couldn’t live with when we did.
“They came back and had a strong second half, but overall it was really good.”
Prop Matt Finn, who had big game for Oaks, scored a rare try, while Duncan Bibby, Tom Richards, Pete Keanie and Miti Caqara also crossed the whitewash.
A converted George Hillson try in the final minute secured Tavistock a 22-21 away win at Bideford, which has moved them up to third.
Tavistock, who had lost their previous two games, were 21-5 down at the break in north Devon, but Hillson proved decisive in them claiming the victory.
The Tavistock captain ended up scoring all his side’s second-half points, but Bideford thought there had been a knock-on as he scored the crucial try late on, before he calmly added the winning conversion.
“We were very poor in the first half and they played well,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“However, we clawed our way back into it.
“In the realms of ugly wins that was up there, but it might just be a catalyst for us.
“I’ll certainly take that win. We know we are a decent side but we proved that we can also win ugly and with a heavily changed side.
Caddy had praise for Vaughan Glover who came on as a replacement at half-time.
“He came on and created a bit of a spark which helped turn the tide for us,” said the Tavistock coach.
Caddy said he is happy with where Tavistock find themselves in the table with just one game to go to the halfway mark.
Bideford had gone 14-0 up before Al Spicer pulled a converted try back, but the hosts added another before the break to take a 16-point lead.
Hillson scored a converted try early in the second half before he then kicked a penalty to leave his side 21-15 down.
And with time virtually up Andy Yates got free but was just stopped short. He off-loaded with Hillson in support. The ball appeared to go to ground before Hillson scored but the referee deemed it came off a Bideford player and awarded the try. Hillson then kicked the conversion to win the match.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
CORNWALL Two leaders Saltash ran in 13 tries as they overcome struggling Newquay Hornets 83-5 at Moorlands Lane on Saturday.
Newquay actually took the lead when Lowen Mears-Ollernshaw sliced through a static Ashes defence within two minutes to score a try.
But after that Newquay found Saltash in great form on a wet pitch and were not able to contain their handling skills.
Will Morton continued his good recent form with two touch-downs after eight and 15 minutes, which were both converted by Ryan Cruickshanks.
Those were closely followed by a Danny Snook try with again the extra points being added.
The visitors tried hard to curb the rush of scores but could not prevent Lewis Wells, Cruickshanks and Ryan Rayner scoring before half-time to give Saltash 38-5 lead at the break.
Morton and Cruickshanks continued the onslaught in the second half which took the lead on the hour to 50-5.
As the conditions deteriorated tries kept coming at regular periods with Morton adding another two, to take his tally for the afternoon to five, and Tom Hollyman, Wells and Lewis Woolaway also going over the whitewash, with Cruickshanks kicking nine conversions and hitting a post with one.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
THE long-awaited meeting between OPMs and Plymouth Argaum proved to be as tight as many people predicted it would be.
In the end the league and Lockie Cup double-header was decided by two late penalties – one kicked and one missed – as OPMs sneaked a 22-20 win at King George V Playing Fields.
The Old Boys, last season’s Devon East champions, were trailing 20-19 with just a few minutes to go when they were awarded a penalty out on the right.
It was not an easy kick, but Matt Smale, who had put over every effort all game, managed to calmly slot it between the posts with his trusty left boot.
But there was still time for another twist and OPMs looked to have shot themselves in the foot when they allowed last season’s Devon West champions Argaum to win the restart and attack. The danger looked to be over when Argaum knocked in front of the posts just outside the 22, but OPMs then gave a free-kick away at the scrum, which, to their horror, was then turned into a penalty for back-chat.
Straight away, Argaum went for the kicking tee. Jake Turfrey had kicked four out of four in the game and had also scored a stunning try, but unbelievable he missed the kick that would have almost certainly won the match for his side.
It was tough on him as he’d had a good game and helped Argaum out-scored their city rivals on tries, but Smale’s impressing kicking at the other end proved the difference on the day.
OPMs head coach Andy Williams, who had seen his side come back from 10-0 in the opening 30 minutes, said: “It was two very even teams and it could have gone either way.
“But I’m incredibly happy, as I’m sure they would have been had they snuck that penalty with two minutes to go and won the game.
“It was not an easy game, but our ‘D’ was fantastic and we took our chances.
“I was just really happy for the boys as they have worked so hard in recent weeks. Obviously things didn’t go to plan against Ivybridge but we came back this week.
“But fair play to both teams – it was a great game of rugby – even though it wasn’t the best conditions.”
OPMs had lost by one point the week before at home to Ivybridge II and captain Billy Garratt said that was at the back of their minds on Saturday.
“I think the lads all collectively said ‘we are not losing by one point again this week’ and I think that was the difference,” he said.
Argaum head coach Dean Avery was disappointed that his side just missed out on the win and a chance to pull clear of the bottom three.
“We had an opportunity at the end to pinch it but we just won’t clinical enough with the ball,” said Avery, who took a head injury after coming on a second half replacement and so had to go off again.
“Credit to them (OPMs), they pushed us around up front and our line-outs did not really function very well.
“It’s disappointing not to get the result, but it was really positive that we had over 40 players pulling on an Argaum shirt this weekend. We’ll look at it and just go back to training. I think we are positive and everyone’s enjoying it.”
Avery admitted it was tough on Turfrey to miss the kick at the end.
“Jake had a fantastic game kicking out of hand and our forwards fronted up and it could have gone either way, but they pipped it and maybe just deserved the result in the end,” he said.
On a wet and misty day, there was very little action to write home about in the opening quarter.
But the game suddenly came to life midway through the first half.
Argaum took the lead in the 19th minute with a penalty by Turfrey after some good pressure from a line-out.
It then got better for the visitors when the powerful Al Sullivan forced his way over the line from close range after an early good break by Tom Holliday. Turfey added the conversion to make it 10-0 and Argaum were looking good.
But the momentum turned suddenly in the final seven minutes of the half.
Smale kicked his first penalty of the day on 33 minutes after OPMs had pushed Argaum off a scrum.
Then four minutes later the hosts bagged their only try of the game when Sam Matts scored in the left corner after a cleaver chip kick to the corner after a drive on the right. Smale brilliantly kicked that effort from out wide and then added a penalty with the last play of the half to edge his side 13-10 in front.
Straight after the restart, Argaum levelled with a Turfrey penalty.
The visitors then wasted an attacking penalty by tapping it and eventually giving away a penalty 22-metres out which allowed OPMs to get up the other end and press, which eventually led to another penalty which Smale put over to make it 16-13.
OPMs were pushing Argaum back into their own half with some good deep kicking and eventually the hosts won another penalty, which again Smale kicked to give his side a 19-13 lead.
But the game turned again when Turfrey reacted quickly when a ball popped out of an OPMs ruck. He picked it up in his own half and he turned on the gas to speed away from a number of chasers to score under the posts and put his side 20-19 ahead.
It was looking like it might stay like that until the late penalty drama in the final couple of minutes which saw OPMs snatch the four points, which has moved them up to eight, and secured them progress in the Lockie Cup.
Devonport Services II lost top spot after they were crushed 46-14 away at title-rivals Torquay Athletic.
Services II had only lost one game before Saturday and that was a narrow 29-24 away defeat at Barnstaple II.
But they were out-muscled by a Torquay side, who dominated up front.
On a wet pitch, the Tics did the damage in the first half, running in six tries to lead 36-7 at the interval. Charlie Groves scored Services’ try, which Richard West converted.
Services did get the first try of the second period through Matt Richards, which West converted, but the hosts added two more to leap-frog above their visitors and back to the top of the table.
Carl Turner and Ryan Hanauer both side twice for Torquay, with Matt Allanson, Craig Withers, Jon Drake and a penalty try accounting for the home side’s five-pointers.
Ivybridge II remain bottom of the table after they lost 52-14 at home to Exmouth II.
Jon Westall scored in the first half for Ivybridge, with Lewis Swatton converting, before Jake Neville added a second in the second period, which Swatton also converted.
TAMAR Saracens got back to winning ways with a hard-earned 24-0 victory away at city rivals Plymstock Albion Oaks II.
Sarries’ unbeaten start to the season had been ended by title-rivals Dartmouth the previous week and in the first half on Saturday they looked to be still hung-over by that last-gasp defeat.
They were only 7-0 up at the break at Horsham Fields, having played downhill in the first half.
But they upped their game second period and scored three more tries to pick up the full five points.
“It wasn’t very good,” admitted Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge afterwards.
“But they (Oaks) have come on leaps and bounds since last season. They have got a decent second team there.
“There were a few choice words said at half-time and we were much better second half. Playing up the hill we worked much harder for each other.
“Yeah, it could have been better, but it was a five-point win.”
Greg Parrott scored Sarries’ only try in the first half when he powered over and Lewis Harris added the conversion.
After the interval Josh Heath added a second try from a drive maul before Scott Cooper, who had come on and made an impression, went over following another good drive by the visitors.
And then Heath produced a show-and-go and just managed to get over for Sarries’ bonus-point fourth try, which Harris converted.
Old Techs missed a last-gasp penalty kick to beat third-placed Brixham II at Weston Mill on Saturday.
With time virtually up and narrowly trailing 17-15, Techs, who’d had a try disallowed during the game, were awarded a penalty, but Ben Hockey’s kick just missed.
“It was a tight game, but it was one we should have won,” said Techs chairman David Evans.
“We dominated them up front and out-muscled them, but in the second half they started spinning it to their backs.”
Josh O’Hare scored Techs’ first try, which was converted by Hockey. Billy Evans than added a second try before Hockey kicked a penalty.
Plympton Victoria’s two-game winning run was ended by a strong Salcombe side, who triumphed 51-10 at St Mary’s Field.
Salcombe had former Ivybridge captain Jordan Anderton pulling the strings at 10 and they stormed into a 35-5 lead a half-time.
But Plym Vic regrouped at half-time and made more of a game of it second half.
“They (Salcombe) were very, very sharp and very good at creating overlaps,” said Plym Vic chairman Chris Hunt.
“I think we were still living off the highs of the Totnes game the week before in the first half.
“But in the second half the lads played a lot better.
“We always knew it would be a stiff test as they are flirting near the top.”
Ronan Cons and Kobe Bryant scored tries for Plym Vic, who will play Argaum II in a cup game next week.
In the same division, a weakened Tavistock II team were beaten 43-3 at home by Torquay Athletic II.
In Counties Three Cornwall, Saltash II lost 43-0 away at St Austell III, while in a merit match OPM Jesters beat Argaum II 36-15 at King George V Playing Fields.
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