Luffman hopes work ethic will pay off for OPMs at Tiverton
OPMs are aiming to ambush third-placed Tiverton tomorrow after losing to them at home earlier in the season and not being able to quite figure out why.
The city side had as much possession as the promotion hopefuls and as many scoring chances, but were somehow beaten 22-13.
OPMs spokesman and coach Steve Luffman said: "If you look at it, they are third and on the basis of the last two or three games, which they won, Tiverton should beat us.
"But from how we've progressed since that game, we've got reasons for encouragement and it would be nice to get the new year off to a winning start.
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"All away games are tough, so we're not going up there expecting to win.
"We've been playing quite well, but it (a win) is not going to happen just because we all turn up on time. We've got to work for it."
Flanker Darren Ewers has suffered ankle ligament damage and may be sidelined for two weeks at least. He is replaced by Tom Clenaghan. Winger John McGarry is unavailable, so Chris Harmer is recalled.
OPMs (from): Adam Geogeghan, Tim Binding, Rich Brown, Kevin Souster, Matt Glastonbury, Tom Clenaghan, Rhys Phillips, Ed Steven, Harry Stephenson, Jake Luffman, Gavin Rae, Justin Morton, Chris Harmer, Martin Skelly, Tom Finnie, Jake Aquilina, Sam Morton, Henry Matthews
BOTTOM-but-one Plymouth Barbarians embark on a series of fixtures from hell tomorrow.
They are at leaders St Ives, who have yet to be beaten in the league this season.
Then they entertain second-placed Plymouth at home, followed by an away trip to third-placed Tiverton.
Barbarians' chairman Roger Jewell said: "It's a tough fixture, but we'll go there and play our best and we'll try to upset a few apple carts."
SALTASH put their promotion credentials to the test at Withycombe tomorrow (2.30pm).
The Raleigh Park outfit are unbeaten in the league at home, winning all eight games. The only other team unbeaten at home are table-toppers St Ives.
Coach Nick Skinnard knows Ashes' first league game of the year will be challenging. "We beat them at home (45-21) earlier in the season, but the scoreline was quite harsh on them," said Skinnard. "They are just immediately behind us in the table and so we expecting a very hard game."
Club spokesman-player Rupert Allen appreciated playing Withycombe away will present an entirely different challenge to playing them at home.
"Its going to be wet, it always is at Withycombe, and that pitch cuts up quite badly in the wet," said Allen. "Withycombe know exactly how to play the pitch, but we have nothing to fear."
Saltash were only promoted to the Cornwall-Devon league last year but currently sit fourth. Despite their good start, Allen says the team don't have any specific expectations or targets.
"We're just taking one game at a time," Allen said. "We know if we play our game and to our potential we can beat anyone, and although it sounds obvious, in this league it's all about being organised and being drilled well, and doing the simple things right."
Saltash had a tough Intermediate Cup match at Teignmouth last week, and lost by five points, not a bad result considering Teigns are currently second in the league table with a game in hand.
"We played reasonably well at Teignmouth," Skinnard said. "But hopefully, we will play better this week."
Saltash: Ryan Cruickshanks, Will Morton, Richard Skinnard, Max Venables, James Moriarity, Joe Skinnard, Brett Jennson, Simon Nance, Ryan Ryaner (capt), Kieran Hart, Tom Dixson, Dylan Woods, Lewis Wells, Ben Devonport, Steve Hillman. Reps: Peter Fowler, Jason Carroll, Adam Merritt
THIRD-bottom Liskeard-Looe have a crunch game with Crediton at Blagdon tomorrow (2.30pm), facing a team who are only one position above them in the table.
With the Lions currently in a relegation battle, coach Tim Mander is looking to pick up at least a bonus point at Crediton, and is confident they can do so if illness and work commitments allow him to travel with a strong squad.
"From our point of view, we cannot afford to come away with nothing," Mander said. "But we drew against Crediton at home earlier in the season, so of course we have a chance."
Mander said the next 24 hours are crucial in determining the strength of his squad for tomorrow.
"Anything can happen between now and Saturday," said Mander.
"I don't know the team yet, but we shouldn't be too badly off, I'm going to ring around and find out who's available, but we've had a couple of players go down with a virus so hopefully it won't spread."
Mander believes the next month will be crucial in determining whether they can survive come April.
He said: "It's going to be a struggle, but we have a couple of players who have been out with long-term injuries coming back, so we have every chance of safety."