TAMAR Saracens and OPMs were both happy with a pre-season run-out at Parkway on Saturday.
Saracens won the battle of the Devon One rivals 22-10 thanks to a late converted try, but OPMs’ pack impressed on the day.
Both teams were without a number of players, but it was an even – and at times feisty – contest that could have gone either way.
In the end two early Saracens tries scored from clever cross-field kicks proved decisive, but OPMs certainly showed they are likely to be competitive in Devon One this coming season.
“We are really pleased with that,” said OPMs head coach Howard Turner afterwards. “We had 10-12 what we would class as first team players who weren’t around, but all the guys who played showed they are absolutely capable of playing Devon One rugby.
“I think our forwards are a huge plus at the moment. I think we were the better pack of forwards, but we just struggled a little bit behind with a few playing out of position and that was where their two tries with kicks over the top came from, but we ironed that out.
“We have always had big thing about defence and I think that shone through. We are pleased with that start.
“We are just really looking forward to getting into the season now. I think it is going to be very interesting.”
Tamar Saracens head coach Pete Lethridge said: “It was a good workout – better than I expected.
“They (OPMs) had a big, physical pack and we had a lot of inexperience in our pack, but the boys did well – I was impressed by some.
“We do have a lot of players to come back, but I think it was a good test for both teams.
“We have learnt quite a bit – we know how they (OPMs) want to play this season.
“But I was impressed with a lot of the younger lads and I am looking forward to the next game now.”
Saracens went 7-0 up after just seven minutes when winger Dan Best scored after a great cross-field kick by Lewis Swatton, who added the conversion.
Two minutes later tempers flared and OPMs were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes. However, while a man down they cut the gap with a Sammie Matts penalty.
On 20 minutes, Sarries extended their lead with another cross-field kick to the right corner. It looked like OPMs would gather the ball but it took a bounce awkwardly and fell perfectly for Ricky Lennon to gather and score.
After that though, OPMs took control for the rest of the half. They dominated the forward exchanges and on 26 minutes they pushed Sarries off a scrum and forward Ben Hooper scored with a pick-and-go move. Matts added the conversion to cut the gap to two points.
Devon under-20 player Swatton, back from a short spell at Devonport Services, kicked a penalty to put Saracens 15-10 up, but OPMs still had most of the possession.
The pre-season match was a bit of a stalemate after the break, but five minutes from time, Saracens sealed the win when centre Karl Andrews scored under the post and youngster Swatton converted.
Article and pictures by Sara Raine Plymouth Sports Gazette