THE Minety RFC touring team – a mixed group of firsts, seconds and veterans – played out a thrilling 35-all draw against their hosts OPM in Plymouth on Saturday.

Tour match

Old Plymothian & Mannamedian 35

Minety 35

Minety started the game in high spirits, apportioning positions on the field by lot and determined to run the ball at all costs.

The referee and home skipper entered into the spirit of the occasion, agreeing to an ad hoc 'no kicking' rule and a one-hour format, divided into three 20-minute periods.

The game got under way in driving rain which persisted throughout the match. Handling was tricky, but neither side paid that any heed, playing at breakneck speed and flinging the ball around. The tactics that emerged were essentially those of seven-a-side rugby, but played with 15 men on each team.

OPM opened the scoring but the sides exchanged alternating tries after that and it was 15-all at the end of the first period.

The tourists began to edge ahead in the second segment and reached the next break 25-30 up.

They stretched this to 25-35 in the final period, but two tries from OPM put them back on level terms with eight minutes to go. Furious efforts by both sides took play from one end of the pitch to the other but neither could break the deadlock and the game ended in an amiable but hard-fought draw.

Keen to impress his old club, Minety flanker and former OPM player Steve Brown scored a brace of tries for the tourists, as did Tom Fitzcharles, whose pace and sidestep caused the hosts no end of problems.

There were tries, too, from Minety’s Duncan Simpson and Richard Fisher, plus one from a guest player on loan from OPM who capitalised on a break by Fitzcharles, crossing the line to ironic applause from the home crowd.