National 3 South West
OXFORD Harlequins guaranteed they will avoid relegation after a battling 8-3 victory at Barnstaple.
Quins will stay up as Old Redcliffians and Amersham & Chiltern face each other on the final day of the season and both sides cannot now go ahead of the Oxford club in the table – no matter what the result.
The visitors’ pack laid the foundations for their victory in Devon, while the backs shackled Barnstaple’s three-quarters in a vice-like grip.
Quins opened up brightly and used the wind well, taking the lead in the fourth minute with a penalty from fly half Matt Smith.
On nine minutes, Quins full back Martin Nutt took a quick penalty, feeding scrum half Jack Cosins, who passed inside to Alex Powell and the No 8 twisted his way over for an excellent try.
Centre Johnny Tevita, who had flown back from holiday that day, went close with some dazzling runs, while Nutt hit the right post with a 40-metre drop-goal attempt.
With half-time approaching, Quins wing Huw Jones was pulled down just short.
Barnstaple came into the game after the break, but could manage only a 45th-minute penalty from full back Will Topps.
With Smith pulling the strings and flanker Sione Vaiom’ounga’s powerful running, Quins kept pressing and Nutt went close.
Vaiom’ounga was yellow-carded on 75 minutes, but Quins held on.
Chinnor earned a bonus-point in their 30-5 victory at Newton Abbot, but Bourne-mouth secured the title by hammering Weston-super-Mare.
The four-try success means Chinnor simply need to win their final game at home to Chippenham to set up a home promotion play-off against either Ampthill or Tonbridge Juddians.
Flanker Alex Waddingham had another strong game for the visitors, while Trevor Powell impressed with his ball retention skills after coming in for the injured Sam Stoop at centre.
Play began in sunny conditions, but then a relentless hailstorm followed by heavy rain meant an expansive game was not possible.
Newton Abbot had flanker Pete Mortimore sin-binned on two minutes, while a slick backs move ended with full back Mark Chase scoring Chinnor’s opening try six minutes later.
Fly half James Cathcart converted and soon afterwards added a penalty.
The extreme weather saw Chinnor opt for a pick-and-drive game, while Cathcart’s second penalty increased their lead.
Just before half-time, the visitors created an overlap for wing Pip Seymour to score try No 2 in the corner.
Chinnor turned up the pressure after the break it was rewarded when referee Carl Bennett gave them a penalty try, converted by Cathcart.
Newton Abbot got on the scoresheet when a crossfield kick held up in a puddle in the corner and full back Josh Smith just beat the cover to slide the ball over for a try on 60 minutes.
Chinnor bagged the bonus-point with a 78th-minute try from replacement Alex Woodhouse.