IVYBRIDGE know no-one will be taking them lightly now in National Three South West after their impressive start to the season.
The newly-promoted Bridgers stunned last season’s runners-up Exmouth at Cross-in-Hand last Saturday by claiming a 29-20 bonus point win. That followed on from a home victory over Old Patesians and a narrow 25-23 away loss at fellow Devon side Barnstaple.
They face their third Devon derby in a row on Saturday when unbeaten Brixham visit the South Hams.
And Ivybridge are fully aware that Dan Parkes’ promotion-hopefuls will know all about their style of play and key players.
“They’ve got two ex-Ivybridge lads in their side and they know all about us,” said team manager Neil Thomson
“They know us and we know them. There’s a lot of friendships between the players but for 80 minutes they will be the enemy.
“At the start of the season they probably might have been thinking this would be an easy five points, but they might be thinking a bit differently now.”
Ivybridge’s win over Exmouth last Saturday was the talk of Devon rugby and the club could hardly believe the response.
“There were so many phone calls and messages to the players and coaches,” said Thomson.
“We just don’t know how good this side is. They rise to every test.”
But everyone at Cross-in-Hand knows they cannot get carried away. Coach Lewis Paterson has already said they just have to take it week by week.
Brixham will certainly offer a massive challenge. They sit second in the table, having beaten Barnstaple 39-34 at home, Old Patesians 24-21 away and Old Centralians 27-14 at home.
The Astley Park side strengthen their squad in the summer with the signing of former Albion, Bristol and England Saxons fly-half Ed Barnes, who along with player-coach Martin Worthington adds considerable experience to the Fisherman’s backline.
Ivybridge, who should have player-coach Gareth Elliott and Elliot Worrell back this weekend, are hoping for another good crowd at their Cross-in-Hand ground. They are combining the match with a fund-raising day and raffle for the Gold Dust Appeal, a charity that aims to improve the children’s level at Derriford Hospital. It’s a chartiy close to the heart of Ivybridge player Dan Burnard, whose young daughter has been ill.
In Western Counties West, Devonport Services will be hoping to continue their impressive start when they entertain St Austell at the Rectory.
Services sit top of the table with a maximum 15 points out of 15.
St Austell have won two out of three of their games. Their only defeat came against last season’s runners-up Kingsbridge.
Saltash’s tough start to life in Western Counties West does not get any easier with a trip to fifth-placed Truro.
The Ashes have faced Kingsbridge and Services at home and Cullompton away in their opening three matches. They beat Cullompton and picked up losing bonus points in narrow losses to Kingsbridge and Services so they are proving competitive in the higher league.
The big game in the Cornwall/Devon League on Saturday is at Bickleigh Down where Plymouth Argaum take on Tavistock.
Just two years ago, Argaum were playing in Devon Two and Tavistock were in Western Counties West.
Now Argaum find themselves above Tavistock having won two out three of their opening three matches.
Their director of rugby Dave Sansom is convinced it should have been three out of three wins for his newly-promoted team after a last-gasp controversial penalty saw them lose 25-24 at Falmouth last weekend.
“We should have won last week,” said Sansom. “I think we were very hard done by.
“We were in control all game but conceded six penalties and lost with the last kick of the game. I didn’t think it was even close to being a penalty.
“It has taken me all week to get over it, but you have to accept it. If you don’t have refs, you don’t have a game.”
Sansom is hoping his team can bounce back tomorrow and keep their unbeaten home record going. However, he expects a tough battle against a Tavistock side who got their first win of the season last weekend with a 16-11 home victory over Newquay.
“I don’t know anything about them, so I don’t know what to expect,” said Sansom.
“But it’s a derby match and I think it will be a close game. I don’t imagine there will be a lot in it.
“I think this is the first time we have played Tavistock in a league game. In recent years they have been three or four divisions above us.
“We might be at home but I don’t think that will make much difference as they are only coming 20 minutes down the road. It’s not like going down to Falmouth or St Ives.”
He added: “It would be nice to get the win but I’m sure they will be thinking the same thing.
Argaum’s goal at the start of the season was mid-table safety.
“It’s still early,” said Sansom. “You don’t know how good the sides you’ve played yet are. Maybe another three or four games down the track the league will start to iron itself out.
“We’re hoping we are going to get better as we are not used to starting this early in a season.”
Argaum will have two games on at Bickleigh on Saturday as their second team will entertain Tamar Saracens seconds.
Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, eighth-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks travel to Exeter Saracens. Both teams only have one win to their name so far.
In Devon One, the big game is at Ernesettle where Tamar Saracens entertain fellow promotion hopefuls OPMs.
Saracens suffered a narrow 8-5 defeat at North Tawton last weekend on the opening day of the season, while OPMs are still to play officially. The beat St Columba and Torpoint 68-0 last week but the result did not stand as there was no RFU referee. Saints this weekend entertain Topsham.
For a full list of all South West fixtures HERE