NEWTON ABBOT are on course for their best finish yet in National Three South West after they beat Old Centralians 37-27 on Saturday.
The All Whites have never finished higher than fifth in since arriving four years ago – and fifth is where they are now with six games to go.
Arch-rivals Brixham, who had no game over the weekend, are one place and seven points ahead of the All Whites from two more games played.
And, as Newton still have Brixham to play, it is not hard to see the sides trading places in the table.
“Beating Old Cents got us up to fifth, so it isn’t unreasonable to go for fourth,” Newton’s director of rugby, Roy Henderson, said.
“We don’t want to stand still if we can help it, so finishing one place higher than last year is a definite improvement.
“At the start of the season I will admit our ambitions were a little higher – then we had that five-game spell in October and November when we didn’t win a game.
“From that low point of the season, we have done pretty well to be talking about possibly finishing fourth.”
Centralians, who are scrapping to get out of the relegation mire, were predicted to be a handful by recent opponents Amersham and so it proved.
“They were sharp in the backs and it was by throwing the ball about and running with it they scored four tries for their bonus point,” said Henderson. “We were not at out best, but we were always on the right side of the game.”
Newton were 17-12 up at half time thanks to tries from Kevin Dennis, Martin Browne and Ben Cole. Lawrence May converted one of them.
Jason Keenan and Stephen Ward added second-half tries. May kicked a penalty and conversion. Meanwhile, Newton have confirmed they expect Ivybridge’s highly-rated prop Matt Finn will join them next season.
Barnstaple won for the first time in three starts when they overturned Worcester Wanderers 27-19. With one eye already on next season, Barum fielded a side sprinkled with youngsters. They were only behind briefly either side of half time and when they got in front for a second time made sure they stayed there.
Not even losing influential flanker Winston James for a technical offside in the second half could upset things. Will Topps scored the bonus-point try while James was on the naughty stair. Barnstaple’s other try scorers were James with a pair and Ryan Brend. Luke Berry kicked two conversions and a penalty.