OPMs suffer fourth straight loss but coach heartened by display
CORNWALL/DEVON OPMs…15 Tiverton…28
OPMS lost their fourth match on the bounce – but the signs are they are growing ever more comfortable in their new Cornwall-Devon League surroundings.
The city side are waiting for reinforcements – they were missing three key backs at Elburton on Saturday – and they pushed fifth-placed Tiverton to the wire despite at one point going 14-3 down.
Head coach Leigh Puttock was immediately targeting old enemies Wessex – they were promoted together – for the Plymouth team's first victory of the season when the two sides go head to head in Exeter this Saturday.
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The one serious blot on OPMs' copybook so far is a 66-14 massacre at leaders Teignmouth last week and Puttock said: "It was a bad performance last week and I told the boys to stop putting themselves under pressure about it.
"Next week is Wessex and we would, hopefully, target them for a win.
"There are players coming back from injury next week and we are looking to go nose to nose with them (Wessex).
"It's an adjustment for the team – they are coming off a season where they won more than they lost and now they are in a position where they are losing more than they win and the players have got to take that on board. We're a developing club and we will get there."
OPMs lost three backs to injury before Saturday's game via the Teignmouth defeat – Ash Atkins has broken his arm, Rob Button has a hamstring problem and Justin Morton has ligament damage.
Despite that, they took the lead when the irresistible Martin Skelly smacked over a penalty in the first half against a difficult wind.
OPMs dominated possession for the majority of the first period, but fatally gave away a converted penalty try when they infringed in front of their own goal-line.
Tiverton scored a second converted try when too many missed OPMs' tackles opened up a huge hole down the left for the visitors' second score of the match – it has to be said totally against the run of play.
Skelly, OPMs' main scoring threat, was sidelined by injury for most of last season, but demonstrated that he is at last back in business. The OPMs full-back took the ball out of his own half, swept effortlessly past several opponents and glided majestically over Tiverton's try line on the left.
Skelly still had to convert his own effort from an awkward angle over by the touchline, but made no mistake with his right-footed kick, putting the game in the melting pot again with OPMs trailing by four points at the break.
OPMs put themselves on the rack early in the second half, failing to clear the ball from deep inside their own 22 and paid the penalty when Tiverton went over for their third try of the match.
The home side's cause looked hopeless and was effectively given the last rites when Tiverton scored their fourth try, which, however, looked suspiciously like the results of a knock-on by a visiting player before the ball finally crossed the line.
It seemed OPMs' afternoon would end with a whimper, but Skelly had other ideas. Winger Sam Critcheley, who had a storming game, broke out of defence and laid off to Skelly, who floated past his markers to touch down his second try of the match.
Skelly missed the conversion and although OPMs finished the 80 minutes entrenched before Tiverton's goal-posts, they were unable to make the breakthrough which would have earned them a well-deserved losing bonus point.
Plymouth Barbarians…0 St Ives…72
FORMER Wales A scrum-half Kieran Thomas ripped apart lowly Plymouth Barbarians at Bull Point as the home side had, in the words of chairman Roger Jewell: 'a bad day at the office'.
Jewell admitted: "They (St Ives) are a good side – Kieran Thomas pulled all their strings and controlled everything. They ran in 11 tries and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if St Ives were there or thereabouts at the end of the season."
He added: "We're obviously disappointed, but we're not disillusioned. We had to make changes before the game and I feel sorry for our coaches, who are really working hard to get things right."
SALTASH unveiled try machine Dylan Woods and zipped into second place in the table after the new boy put four touchdowns on title-chasing Withycombe.
Flanker Lewis Wells finished off a Max Venables break to open the scoring, although the visitors hit back with a Tom Steer penalty.
Withycombe scrum-half Mike Simons stunned the Ashes with an unconverted try and then added a drop goal to go 11-7 up.
Ashes went up a gear and Will Morten scored in the corner to give his side a 14-11 first-half lead. They opened up on the visitors in the second period, Woods running in four tries and Joe Skinnard adding another two. Venable added a penalty to give Ashes a commanding lead.
Withycombe hit back with two unconverted tries from Neil Williams and Mike Richards in the game's last five minutes.
A LATE converted try by Liskeard flanker Mark Davy secured a draw for the hosts against Crediton.
Liskeard started shakily and found themselves six points down, courtesy of the boot of visiting fly-half Tom Ronchetti, who kicked two penalties.
In the 10th minute Liskeard were awarded a kickable penalty and James Noel-Johnson got them onto the scoreboard.
At the end of the first quarter the scores were level thanks to a second penalty by Noel-Johnson.
Just before half-time a clearance kick by Liskeard found touch on the halfway line, but the visitors took the line-out quickly and wing Conrad Roberts crossed the whitewash in the corner for an unconverted try.
In the second half Noel-Johnson reduced the deficit to two points with his third penalty and then kicked his fourth to put Liskeard 12-11 in front.
The Lions found themselves behind after Ronchetti kicked his third penalty immediately followed by a Crediton try, scored by number eight Mark Knott before Davy crashed over to tie the scores.