RFU INTERMEDIATE VASE SOUTH WEST SEMI FINAL
OPMs 20, Pirates Amateurs 13
PLYMOUTH outfit OPMs gained a measure of revenge for their Cornwall & Devon League defeat at the hands of the Amateurs before the Christmas break as they earned a place in the South West final of the Intermediate Vase with this narrow semi final victory on Saturday.
The home side ran in three first half tries to secure the win, although it was the visitors who opened the scoring after 16 minutes with a Rhys Brownfield penalty.
The Plymothians responded five minutes later with their opening try from Darren Ewers, which proved a double blow for the Amateurs who lost Ben Brittain to an ankle injury he sustained attempting to prevent the try.
And a minute later they lost another key player when Danny Toolan was forced off after receiving a knee to the head, with former Pirates favourite Lee Williams coming on as his replacement for his first appearance in many years.
The hosts increased their lead on the half hour, however, when Ed Stevens crossed for their second try, with Gavin Rae adding the extras.
The Amateurs pulled three points back with another Brownfield penalty, but then suffered another injury setback when Matt Nicholas had to be replaced by Matt Stevens.
OPMs hit back with an unconverted try on the stroke of half time by Matt Thompson which gave his side a 17-6 lead at the break, which then became 20-6 when Rae slotted over a penalty on 52 minutes.
The visitors were further hampered when Dexter Ross-Nicholl was harshly yellow carded, but it was during his spell on the sidelines that the Amateurs got themselves back into contention with a try by Keiran Brownfield, which was converted by younger brother Rhys.
OPMs played out the closing stages on the back foot despite the Amateurs finishing the match with 14 men after Ben Eddy was also shown the yellow card, but with no further scoring it was the Plymouth outfit who will now travel to the cup holders, Newark from Gloucestershire in the next round on February 1.
Despite the defeat there were plenty of positives for a depleted Amateurs side to take from the match, with outstanding performances from the likes of Ross-Nicholl, Ben Noyce and Kieran Brownfield, while Steve Evans showed up well having returned home for the festive period from Dubai.
This Saturday the Amateurs return to Cornwall & Devon League action at home to sixth placed Exeter Saracens (2.15pm).
Pirates Amateurs: R Brownfield, A Hall, B Eddy, A Snell, J Nicholas, S Evans, S Osborne, B Brittain, D Ross-Nicholl, B Noyce, L Hollis, M Nicholas, D Toolan, K Brownfield, P Gray. Replacements (all used): C Goldsworthy, L Williams, M Stevens, K James, D O'Hanlon.
CORNWALL & DEVON LEAGUE
Crediton 37, Hayle 16
THIRD placed Crediton ran out deserved winners in the only Cornwall & Devon League match to survive Saturday's wet weather.
The game was given the go-ahead following a morning pitch inspection but by kick-off time conditions had improved dramatically and the playing surface held up well as both sides contributed to an entertaining game of rugby.
Crediton opened their account with a Rob Milton penalty after seven minutes, and increased their lead five minutes later when No8 Mark Nott touched down from a scrum after they had been awarded a penalty following a superb break by winger Mike Pearce.
The home side added to their lead after 22 minutes when another attack down the right ended with scrum half Dan Lewis going over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Hayle gradually gained a foothold in the game, however, forcing Crediton to concede penalties, two of which were successfully slotted by scrum half Dan Magee.
But the home side responded well and extended their advantage when the ball was released from a driving maul and fly half Milton dummied his way over near the posts before adding the extra points himself.
The Lions replied immediately though and from a tap penalty flanker Rob Goodman crossed for a try to offer hope for the second half.
After the break there was little to choose between either side with defences well on top. And although Milton landed his second penalty after 55 minutes Hayle then enjoyed a good spell of pressure and were rewarded when a home clearance kick was charged down and Goodman pounced on the loose ball to score his second try.
Crediton again rallied and from a quickly taken penalty lock Declan McDonnall went over and Milton slotted over the conversion.
And the scoring was completed in the final minute when Nott dotted down for another pushover try.
This Saturday Hayle entertain fourth place Falmouth at the Memorial Park (2.30pm). Before the match the club are holding a sponsors, supporters and ex-players' buffet lunch from 12.30pm. For details email firstname.lastname@example.org