Huge day for OPMs, who achieved the difficult in one match and – on paper – the virtually impossible in another.
The city club sent out the second team to contest a Lockie Cup semi-final against Liskeard-Looe II at Elburton while their firsts engaged in the small matter of trying to get promoted via Cornwall-Devon playoffs at Helston, runners up in Cornwall One. The city side’s seconds were not expected to win against the Lions – whose firsts play in Devon and Cornwall League – but triumphed 13-3 to reach next Wednesday’s Lockie Cup final at Brickfields.
Meanwhile, against a Helston side notoriously difficult to beat on their own patch, OPMs firsts scraped into the Cornwall-Devon league by a single point, by 20-19. Head coach Leigh Puttock, who only took over the reins a season ago, said afterwards “We haven’t got a lot of bulk in our forwards, but despite that we got promoted against a side which has, which is a real achievement. Having said that, I ll be looking for a few bruisers for next season, because we’re under no illusions how difficult a job it’s going to be in a higher league. Look at Plymouth Barbarians – they got promoted last season and have done well to stay up this season and you‘ve got to congratulate them for that. We ve got a skilful bunch of lads and at this early stage; our aim next season is to consolidate in the new league. I am incredibly proud of the lads – the seconds have mirrored everything that the firsts do in training, work really hard and the result is we ve got another cup final on Wednesday”
Against Helston, OPMs took the lead when Justin Morton kicked a penalty, but the home side responded with an unconverted try. Flanker Darren Ewers gave the initiative back to the city side with a try he ran in from 20 yards out. Morton missed the conversion in difficult conditions with OPMs leading 8-5 at the interval. The Plymouth team faced a climb up the slope into the teeth of a strong wind in the second period, but went further ahead when Jake Luffman scored after good work from Ben Dean and OPM Legend Matt Glastonbury. With OPMs 13-3 ahead, Helston went on the offensive and pressured the visitor’s goal line. Rhys Phillips and Steve Brown got the ball away, Matt Norris took it on and fed Ash Atkins. The winger sped the length of the field to score under the posts, Morton making no mistake with what turned out to be a vital conversion to give the visitors a 20-5 advantage.
Helston however would not give up the chance of a place in Cornwall-Devon League without a fight and battered their way to within a point of the visitors. Assistant head coach Steve Luffman said “There were a final six or seven nerve-jangling minutes left when Helston got it together, but the referee bless him, blew his whistle to end it”
Back in Elburton, Mark Turners try with a drop goal by Warren Dunkley and rest of OPMs points from Mike Slade’s boot was enough to see off Liskeard-Looe II. Luffman said “We only sent the seconds out to fulfil a fixture and realistically we didn t expect them to win. The firsts couldn’t play the game because they were in Helston. What a result and what a huge day for the club!”