PLYMOUTH Barbarians are the new champions of Devon One without having to kick a ball in anger after Wessex – the only team who could catch them – were beaten 26-23 at home by OPMs.
Wessex are only three points behind Barbs, but have no more fixtures left to play.
Barbarians visit city rivals Plymstock Albion Oaks for their final match of the season on April 9, a game which now has no more than pride at stake.
Barbarians had been gearing themselves up for having to win the title at Horsham Field and vice-chairman Danny Avery admitted Wessex' defeat had taken the pressure off them.
Ironically, their confirmation as champions came shortly after one of Barbarians' biggest disappointments of the season when they were knocked out of the RFU Junior Vase just two games from a Twickenham final.
Avery told Herald Sport: "It is just fantastic that we've won the league. In a sense, it would have been nicer if we'd won it on the field, instead of by default, but the fact is we can relax a bit now, because we've won a trophy."
The Barbarians' vice-chairman's weekend got better after his side went through to the Lockie Cup final, again without having to play a match.
Avery said: "We're in the Lockie Cup final as well, I believe. We were supposed to be playing Tavistock seconds in the semi-finals today (Saturday), but they cancelled on Friday night. We're also in the final of the Devon Junior Cup – at home – so we're doing well."
Avery paid tribute to head coach Mark Busfield and the squad for the effort they had put in during the season to win the title. At one point, Wessex had overhauled Barbs at the top thanks to a superior bonus points tally.
He said: "Mark Busfield and everyone at the club has put in a tremendous amount of work in to get us where we are. They deserve a lot of credit."
A DARREN EWERS converted try secured OPMs an impressive victory at second-placed Wessex.
OPMs' win secured them fourth place and gave the title to fellow city side Plymouth Barbarians.
Martin Skelley had an impressive game for the Old Boys scoring two of their four tries and converting three of them.
OPMs' other try came from fly-half Matt Norris.
Tamar Saracens...0 Plymstock Albion Oaks...35
OAKS can only hope for third place in Devon One despite a victory at already-relegated Saracens which potentially puts them on the shoulders of second-placed Wessex.
Should they beat local rivals Barbarians in their last match on April 9 and win a rescheduled match with New Cross, they will have missed out on promotion by three points – but since third was head coach Adam Nicholas' target anyway, he's going to end the season a pretty happy man.
Oaks dominated an ugly-tempered match at Saracens, which the referee abandoned after 63 minutes after off the ball scraps became too numerous and too vicious.
Nicholas said: "It was a shame, because we wanted to play our normal attacking game, but that just wasn't possible. I agree whole-heartedly with the referee for abandoning the game and while I accept rugby is a contact sport, it was getting a bit much."
When Oaks were able to play ball, they scored through Terence Jordan, Ben Hocking, Rhys Currell and Paul Grenney. Talented number 10 Tom West booted the rest of his side's points.