INJURY-hit Ivybridge suffered their first home defeat in National Three South West when they were beaten 52-21 at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday by fellow league newcomers Cleve.
The Bridgers were without 10 regular first-teamers, including player-coaches Lewis Paterson and Gareth Elliott, Alex Hall, Dom Loomes, Charlie Briant, Jordan Anderton and Reece Adams.
They were in the game until half-time, trailing just 12-9, but Cleve, with the wind in their favour, dominated the second period.
“We did have 10 players out, but we’re not going to make excuses. Cleve thoroughly deserved the win,” said Ivybridge team manager Neil Thomson.
“We missed too many tackles. I think we missed 35.
“It was just one of those weekends for us. Everyone who played tried their best and gave 100 per cent but it was not our day.
“We now have a fortnight before our next game and, hopefully, we should be back to full strength then.”
Ivybridge, whose only previous defeat this season was a 25-23 reverse at Barnstaple, have dropped down to fourth in the table, but the Cross-in-Hand club have always said their objective is to stay in the league after winning promotion last season along with Cleve.
Matt Grieveson kicked all Ivybridge’s points in the first half on Saturday with James Sloan and Ben Watts scoring tries after the break.
In Western Counties West, Saltash moved into the top four after claiming a hard-earned 33-28 home win over St Austell.
The Ashes led 18-10 at the break thanks to tries by Callam Cload and Shaun Crawford and two penalties and a conversion from Max Venables.
Josh Phillips scored Saints’ only try in the first period, which came early on, with Cavan Boyer converting and kicking a penalty.
After the interval, Saints closed to within three points with a Will Gilder try before Saltash went 30-18 up with touch-downs by Phil Eatwell and a second from Cload.
But Saints hit back and closed to within two points with tries by Andy Inch and Paul Winterbottom before Venables kicked a late penalty for the Ashes.
However, while Saltash have slowly been moving up the table, their Western Counties West rivals Devonport Services have been slipping down it.
Services won their opening three matches with maximum points but they have now lost three league games in a row – two by one score.
On Saturday they were agonisingly beaten 22-21 at the Rectory by Gareth Evans’ Okehampton side, who have only lost once this season.
Services did have the chance to win it at the death but Matt Anstis missed with a last-gasp drop-goal.
The home side had been 17-0 down at half-time with the visitors impressing in the scrum.
But Services came out fired up second half and went 21-17 up with tries by 18-year-old prop Curtis Reynolds, who is on-loan from Plymouth Albion, and Rocky Young and 11 points from the boot of Anstis.
Two minutes from time, though, Okehampton scored what was to be the winning score.
In the Cornwall/Devon League, Plymouth Argaum suffered their first home defeat, going down 10-8 to Pirates Amateurs in a tight contest at Bickleigh Down.
Argaum were missing a number of players but led 8-7 at half-time with a Courtney Richards try and Jake Turfrey penalty.
Pirates kicked a penalty to go 10-8, but Argaum could have won the match had Tom Richards not missed with a penalty of his own eight minutes from time.
The defeat sees Argaum drop down to fourth in the table.
Plymstock Albion Oaks are up to seventh after they beat Paignton 21-10 at Horsham Fields, while Tavistock were beaten 53-17 away at St Ives.
In Devon One, Tamar Saracens were forced to settle for a 14-14 home draw with title-rivals Totnes.
Saracens had beaten Totnes 21-13 a few weeks ago away in the RFU Junior Vase but they were unable to repeat that performance on Saturday.
It looked like they were going to win the game having recovered from a slow start, which saw them go 11-3 down.
Saracens had gone 14-11 up with time up but gave away a penalty with the last play of the game. Totnes initially missed it but the referee re-awarded and moved it 10 metres closer to the posts for indiscipline and the visitors took the gift to grab two points.
“The first 30 minutes was like we were still on a bus for an away game,” said Saracens spokesman Wayne Delenty.
“But we came out for the second half really strong and firing on all cylinders. We got 14-11 up but threw the game away at the end. It was a bit of a downer.”
Adam Corbett scored Saracens’ only try before two Tom Rigby penalties put them in front before Totnes’ last-gasp penalty.
St Columba and Torpoint’s season shows no signs of improving. They lost 64-15 at home to leaders Wessex.
Saints, who finished third last season, have yet to pick up a single point this term and are rooted to the foot of the table.
OPMs’ were again left frustrated by a lack of referee for the second time this season. They travelled all the way to North Tawton only for their match to be postponed.
In Devon Two, Devonport High School Old Boys claimed their first win of the season when they beat rivals Plympton Victoria 35-3 at Stonehouse Creek.
Plym Vic had beaten DHSOB last term, but the Old Boys are stronger this year following arrival of a host of the Plymouth Fiji rugby team.
However, their biggest problem this term is discipline. For the second week running the Old Boys picked up three yellow cards and gave away a host of penalties.
DHSOB were 13-3 up at the break with a first minute try by scrum-half Shawn Manu and a penalty from Tulele before number eight Lopeti Faha scored.
Despite leading, DHSOB got a ‘roasting’ at half-time by director of rugby Mike Freeman.
“Far play they responded in the second half and came out really fired up,” said Freeman.
Shawn Manu scored a second try and Tulele also went over just after the interval to put the Old Boys 23-3 up.
But then the home side had to survive some real pressure from Plym Vic.
“They did camp in our 22 but to our credit we defended really well and did not allow them to cross our line,” said Freeman.
The Old Boys did have to defend with 13 for a spell but late on they scored two further tries through the impressive Faha and Eddie Ramaazani, with Fraser Tatchell converting.
“We finished the game well and I was quite happy with got the bonus point,” added Freeman. “But as always there’s an awful lot of work still to do, although we are getting better.
“I do think the scoreline may be flattered us. Plym Vic were very plucky and really took the game to us in the third quarter. I think they will make teams work hard for victories.”
Meanwhile, promotion hopefuls Old Techs suffered a disappointing 27-10 defeat away at Ilfracombe.