IVYBRIDGE will be hoping to continue their unbeaten home record in National Three South West on Saturday when they entertain Cleve at Cross-in-Hand (2.30pm).
The Bridgers, who sit second in the table after five games, have so far overcome Old Patesians, Exmouth and Brixham on their own soil.
“The boys are looking forward to playing in front of their home fans again,” said team manager Neil Thomson.
Ivybridge have made a sensational start to life at level five, but this weekend they do face a team that knows them.
Cleve were also promoted from South West One last term, finishing as champions ahead of Ivybridge, who had to go through the play-offs to secure their place in National Three.
“They were in the league with us last year and they went up as champions,” said Thomson. “We beat them at home towards the end of the season but we lost to them away.
“This season they have won both their away games but lost at home. They are scoring lots of points and doing well away so we are really wary of them. It will be a big test for us.”
Ivybridge have welcomed back former second-row Richard Luscombe to the club after a five-year absence. He could be added to their squad after impressing in a couple of second team games.
Another player who could be promoted after catching the eye in the seconds/development side is young winger Damien Ackerman, who is one of the fastest players in the club.
Ivybridge’s development side beat Kingsbridge 46-0 last week and it was a good chance for the coaching staff to have a look at some fringe players with the first team not featuring.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST AND CORNWALL/DEVON
Devonport Services and Saltash will also be hoping to make home advantage tell in Western Counties West.
Fourth-placed Services entertain Gareth Evans’ Okehampton, who sit immediately above them in the table, at the Rectory, while fifth-placed Saltash host seventh-placed St Austell.
Services have lost their last three league and cup matches and so will be looking for a timely victory over an Okehampton team who have been beaten just once this term.
Saltash will be expecting a tough battle at Moorlands Lane against Cornish rivals St Austell. Both teams have similar records this season, with three wins and two defeats to their name.
Cornwall/Devon League side Plymouth Argaum, like Ivybridge, remain unbeaten at home this year following promotion. They sit second in the table, but face a tough test on Saturday when they welcome Pirates Amateurs to Bickleigh Down.
“We are not looking a bad outfit at the moment and I’m quite pleased with how we’ve started, but it is still early,” said Argaum’s director of rugby Dave Sansom.
“I think we’ll see over the next three games if we are any good or if we are just making up the numbers in this league.”
He added: “This weekend will be a real toughy. It should be an interesting game.
“We’ve got a few guys away. It has fallen the wrong week, as if it had been last week we would have had a full squad, but I’m not moaning about it. Over 26 games you are going to have that. Hopefully, this squad is big enough.
“Cornwall/Devon is not a sprint of just 16 games like in Devon One. Then you used to look forward to Devon Cup games, nowadays it is all about surviving the league and 26 matches.”
Argaum, like a number of other Plymouth Combination clubs, have taken up Albion’s offer to have players come in to offer tips, advice and to assist with some training sessions.
Australian back Marc Koteczky and French forward Gregory Sebastien are working with them, although New Zealand hooker James Penman has also been up to do a session with them.
“Marc is an extremely good back and an extremely good coach,” said Sansom. “Gregory is also good and we’ve taught him some English as well!
“James Penman was excellent as well the week before. He’s got some great knowledge.
“It’s just extremely good to have them come in. It’s always good to have different voices and a different view point.
“If it is you just droning on week-in, week-out, players can lose a bit of interest, so it’s nice to have as many people as you can get come in during the season. It’s just a matter of picking up some knowledge from them.”
In the same division, Plymstock Albion Oaks are also at home when they entertain Paignton.
Just one point separates the two teams in the table, with Oaks one place above their opponents in seventh.
Fast-improving Tavistock face a tough test when they travel to their former Western Counties West rivals St Ives.
Both teams were relegated into the Cornwall/Devon League last season, but St Ives have made an impressive start to life in the lower division, losing just once.
Tavistock started poorly but they have picked up form in recent weeks, winning two of their last three league games.
DEVON ONE & TWO
The big match in Devon One sees second-placed Tamar Saracens host early leaders Totnes.
The teams only met a few weeks ago in the Devon final of the RFU Junior Vase, with Saracens winning 21-13 away.
But coach Stuart Busfield knows Totnes will be keen to make up for that defeat.
“We are looking forward to the game,” said Busfield. “We had a really close game with them up there. They are a really good side and I’m a bit nervous as I’m away the next two weeks.”
Saracens got some tips mid-week from Albion lock Dan Collier, who will be working with them during the season as part of the National One club’s bid to build better links with other Plymouth Combination clubs.
“It’s a real pleasure to have a current Albion first team player come down to share his skills and, more importantly, his experience,” said Busfield, a former Albion player himself.
“Dan really added to our session and all of the guys thoroughly enjoyed having him around. We are now looking forward to him supporting us throughout the season.
“I think he was also fairly surprised at the level we were at. He had some really positive things to say about us and the way we were doing things, which was really pleasing.”
OPMs will be hoping to get over their Devon Junior Cup defeat at the hands of Buckfastleigh last weekend when they travel to unbeaten North Tawton on Saturday.
North Tawton are the only team to beat Tamar Saracens this season, so OPMs know they will face a tough away challenge.
Elsewhere, struggling St Columba & Torpoint, who are still waiting for their first win of the season, entertain fifth-placed Wessex.
The big match in Devon Two is at Stonehouse Creek where DHSOB entertain Plympton Victoria.
Plym Vic claimed their only win in two seasons against DHSOB last term, but the Old Boys are keen to show how far they have come this year with the arrival of a host of the Plymouth Fiji rugby team.
The Old Boys will also play a second team match with Argaum, having picked up nearly 30 players over the summer with their ‘Back to Rugby’ scheme and the arrivals of their Fijians.
Plym Vic coach Howell Phillips said: “We’re looking forward to the game. We’ve got some new boys come in and it will be interesting to see how these guys fit in.
“Whether we win or lose – and obviously you want to win – but we just want to know we’ve played a game of rugby and played well.”
Plym Vic did take encouragement from their last league outing against Dartmouth. They lost 29-11 but they had been beaten 92-0 in their opening match at Buckfastleigh.
“We played well against Dartmouth,” said Phillips. “It was a good game.”
Elsewhere in Devon Two, unbeaten Old Techs travel to Ilfracombe.
To view all South West rugby fixtures, click HERE