Charlie Burt wants Tiverton to put pressure on leaders
TIVERTON boss Charlie Burt has not given up hope of his side forcing their way into the promotion mix.
Saturday's 15-6 win at Saltash put third-placed Tivvy 14 points ahead of their hosts, having played a game more than the Cornish side in fourth.
They are seven adrift of St Ives in second place, with the two sides meeting in Mid Devon this weekend.
And while Burt is happy with third at the moment, he hopes his players can put some pressure on the top two as Tiverton also have to play Teignmouth for a second time this term.
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"At the beginning of the season we were looking to be above halfway but as the season has gone on and we've improved, third or fourth became our aim, if not higher," admitted chairman of rugby Burt.
"We've got St Ives at home this Saturday and if we can win that game we will put some pressure on the top two because we have also got to play Teignmouth and we are playing well.
"I would still settle for third place, that would be a successful season, but you never know what is going to happen.
"As far as I know, everybody who played on Saturday is available this weekend and the three guys who missed out are also available, so selection will be tough."
Tiverton made three changes from the side that won 33-10 against OPM last weekend as Matt Hague, Liam Lewis and Henry Frankpitt were all unavailable.
Ollie Chanin returned on the flank after being unavailable for the previous fortnight, Callum Stone started at fly-half and second-team scrum-half Tom Franklin played on the wing.
And Burt said all three fitted in seamlessly as part of an impressive team display to put daylight between themselves in third and the chasing pack.
"The three players who came in didn't affect the performance at all," he said.
"We played well throughout the game and for 95 per cent of it we controlled line-outs, scrums and mauls and the back-row of (Rob) Plume, Chanin and (Max) Neusinger played well as a unit, as did the whole pack."
Tiverton controlled the game in the first 20 minutes as they had the wind behind them and were playing down the slope.
However, they blew four good chances to score as they gave away a penalty at a ruck close to the line on each occasion.
The score did come after Richard Tucker and Rob Plume carried the ball well, with Max Neusinger driving over from the base of a ruck a few metres out. Jimmy Atkins converted.
Saltash should have pulled a try back straight away but, after crossing the line, one of their wingers tried going behind the posts to make the conversion easier only for Chanin to push him over the deadball line before he could dot down.
Tiverton made their hosts pay as they kicked the 22-metre drop out long, won the resulting line-out and drove over the line where prop James Morrison claimed another try.
Turning around 12-0 up, Tiverton never allowed Saltash to get close to scoring a try when they had the elements in their favour in the second half.
Max Venables, who was kept quiet by opposite number Jeff Robinson, landed two penalties to make it 12-6 with 10 minutes left. Stone landed a penalty to put the visitors ahead by more than one score and they closed the game out to secure the win.
This Saturday's game is also the vice-presidents and sponsors' day.
A weakened Tiverton seconds lost 63-0 away against Barnstaple.
However, the thirds beat Exeter Saracens seconds 34-19.
Luke Westbrook (2), Dan Ellicott and John Martin scored tries and Keith Sampson converted all four and added two penalties.