Ambitious Services hit back to snap Torquay winning run
Devonport Services...31 Torquay Athletic...15
SERVICES ran in five tries to end promotion rivals Torquay's long winning run and keep alive their own outside play-off hopes with this impressive victory at The Rectory.
Doubles from Nathan Wonnacott and Manoa Tikoisuva sealed the win for fourth-placed Services over Tics, who had come to Plymouth boasting an 11-match winning streak.
The success was Services' third on the spin and they now trail third-placed Tics by 10 points but, said director of rugby Dave Oakley, much buoyed by his team's spirit and never-say-die attitude.
Oakley said: "It was a great victory for us and I think shows how far we've come this season.
"Torquay came to us very confident, naturally enough, given their winning stretch, but we never once felt we would lose the game, even when they were leading.
"I thought we were the best team throughout and although we only finally sealed the win in the last 20 minutes, it was justly so.
"We made it hard for ourselves early on: we didn't take our chances and gifted Torquay silly points.
"But, aside from the five points, the most pleasing factor for me was that the guys played for each other and kept their heads, knowing their hard work would be rewarded."
Oakley added: "We're fourth in the league and playing well but we're not going to get carried away with things. We'll see where we are after our next two games against (bottom-placed) Honiton and Ivybridge.
"If we can get 10 points from those two matches and the teams above and around us slip up, it could make for an interesting end of the season."
Services trailed 15-7 at half-time as Tics grabbed tries through Andy Gormley and Jon Brown, with James Wood potting one conversion and an earlier a penalty.
Tics were punished for illegally attempting to stop a Services push over and the hosts got their points on the board with a penalty try.
But if Services could be accused of under-performing in the first half, they can only be applauded for their efforts in the second period.
Wonnacott and Tikoisuva both bagged two tries apiece while tearing apart the visitors' defence to overhaul Torquay's advantage.
Matt Anstis kicked three conversions to blow the south Devon side out of the water.
Bideford, on 74 points, edged ahead of inactive St Austell at the top of the table by a point, which would seem to put them in pole position going into the second-half of the season.
But Oakley said: "We're delighted with where we are but naturally want to finish as high as possible.
"And the way we're playing – nothing's ruled out just yet."
COACH Neil Thomson was 'gutted' for his young team who lost out on an away win at Wellington through an injury-time penalty.
Ivybridge fought back from trailing 15-14 at the break to lead 26-20 going into the latter stages of a terrific game before Wellington's late rally.
However, had Adam Bradley's long-distance pot at the posts not been cruelly blown aside by the strong wind when they were leading by six points, Ivybridge might well have returned to the South Hams with a narrow victory of their own.
Thomson said he was proud of his players and congratulated them on what he described as the 'best team performance of the season' at Corams Lane.
"It was a fantastic match," said Thomson. "I felt we deserved to come away with more than just a bonus point for our efforts.
"I felt the late penalty was a soft decision and if I have a criticism at all of the referee, it was that his decisions were inconsistent throughout – not just for us but for Wellington, too.
"I don't want it to sound like sour grapes. I felt we played great and if we can continue in this vein for the remainder of the season, the supporters will be delighted."
Sam Kingscott scored two of Ivybridge's three tries while Bradley notched three penalties and a conversion to go with his own try.
Bradley had scored two penalties to give Ivybridge a 6-0 lead before Tom Scoles was yellow-carded putting the visitors down to 14 men.
Wellington scored two tries while Scoles was cooling his heels and Thomson was seething at his own perceived injustice of the full-back's enforced absence.
Chris Kitto and Bridgers' heart-breaker Mark Nichols crossed the whitewash for Wellington with the latter also adding the extras.
Kingscott scored Ivybridge's first-half try and also netted nine of his side's points with the boot.
Ivybridge seemed in cruise-control in the second half thanks to another try from Kingscott and a try by Bradley, with the latter also adding a conversion.
Wellington, to their credit, kept chipping away at the visitors' defence and were rewarded with tries from Ali Taylor and Mick Norman.
Nicholas muffed both conversion attempts as Ivybridge remained in the lead, just, by two points.
But Bradley came up trumps as the visitors, to the dismay of their coach, were penalised two minutes into injury-time, and the home player kept his nerve with a well-struck penalty.
Ivybridge host Bude this Saturday, their first match at Cross-in-Hand since January 5 when they defeated Tavistock 21-16.
TAVISTOCK'S scheduled league clash with Kingsbridge was postponed on Saturday due to a waterlogged pitch at Sandy Lane.