RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge hope to celebrate 40th anniversary in style

Ivybridge rugbyIVYBRIDGE will be hoping they are celebrating more than just their club’s 40th anniversary on Saturday night.

The Cross-in-Hand side have a glitzy event planned for 200 people at the Duke of Cornwall to mark the day they were founded in 1975.

But before they put their glad rags on they have a certain matter of a big home match to concentrate on.

The Bridgers are hoping to bounce back from two consecutive defeats when they entertain second-placed Old Redcliffians in National Three South West.

Ivybridge might have dropped down to ninth after last week’s frustrating 14-11 defeat at Dings Crusaders but they could overtake second-placed Old Redcliffians if they win on Saturday, which shows just how tight the division is.

“It is our 40th anniversary to the exact day on Saturday,” said Ivybridge team manager Neil Thomson. “We have got 200 going to the Duke of Cornwall to celebrate and hopefully we can get a win and a good crowd in the afternoon to mark the occasion.

“If we had won last week we would have been second in the league. It was a game that just fell away from us, but we did come away with a point.

“There are so many teams who are very, very equal in this league. It is a big game for us this weekend with them being second in the league, but it could easily have been second versus third.

“If you look at Old Redcliffians points for they are bottom of the league but second in the table. They have also played five out of their seven games at home and home advantage is really big in this league.”

Ivybridge are certainly hoping they can make home advantage tell on Saturday.

They are boosted by the return of player-coach Gareth Elliott, who has missed the last few games due to work commitments.

Ivybridge are also hoping their second team can win back the Five Handles Trophy, which is played for between five South Hams sides, when they travel to Dartmouth on Saturday.

In Western Counties West, Devonport Services will be desperately hoping they can end their losing run when they host struggling Torquay Athletic at the Rectory.

Services have not won since September 19 and last week lost 34-14 away at Crediton. However, they still sit in mid-table after claiming three bonus point wins at the start of the season.

Devonport Services and Saltash are both looking to bounce back this weekend in Western Counties West (picture by Mark Andrews)

Devonport Services and Saltash are both looking to bounce back this weekend in Western Counties West (picture by Mark Andrews)

Torquay will arrive in 12th spot, six points behind Services, but they do have a game in hand after the Tics’ match with Cullompton last week was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

Saltash will also be looking to return to winning ways after losing 44-23 away at Sidmouth last weekend.

However, they face a tough test at Moorlands Lane on Saturday when they entertain Gareth Evans’ Okehampton side.

Okehampton have only lost once this season and sit third in the table, but Saltash, who had won three games in a row before last week, are only two places behind in fifth.

In the Cornwall/Devon League, Plymstock Albion Oaks will be aiming to continue their good run of form when they host Hayle at Horsham Fields.

Tim Mathias’ side have won their last four matches to move up to fifth in the table. Hayle arrive in eighth, but the Cornish side have been leaking a lot of points. Only the bottom three sides have conceded more.

Meanwhile, Plymouth Argaum face another tough test when they travel to St Ives.

After a great start to life in the Cornwall/Devon League, Argaum have lost their last two matches to high-flying Bude and Pirates Amateurs.

Argaum sit three places, but just five points, behind their third-placed hosts.

And director of rugby Dave Sansom is hoping his team can bounce back from last weekend when they lost 36-14 to Bude, which was their biggest league defeat in 19 months.

OPMs v Argaum“We had as much possession and territory but they were just more clinical,” said Sansom.

“I think we went reasonable well, but Bude are a good side and I think they will be there or there abouts.

“We just have to knuckle down and try and come back from it.

“A trip to St Ives is not the greatest fixture when you are looking to come back from a defeat, but we have to play them as some time so it might as well be this week.

“Hopefully, we’ll go down there and play well.

“I have probably got more players to select from this week. Last week was a bit hard going as we had the ‘wrong’ players missing, if you know what I mean.”

Devon One, meanwhile, is entering a crucial phase and promotion hopefuls Tamar Saracens and OPMs both have big games this weekend.

Third-placed Saracens are keen to get their hopes back on track when they entertain fourth-placed South Molton.

Sarries have been held to a draw with second-placed Totnes and suffered a 17-7 away defeat at unbeaten leaders Wessex last weekend, but they have been boosted this week by signing James Hannaford and Ryan Dingle from National Two South side Launceston and Jack Martin and Fin Gilding from Western Counties West outfit Devonport Services.

Coach Stuart Busfield has missed Saracens last two games due to family commitments, but he’s back on the sidelines for tomorrow’s match.

“The last two games have been very disappointing,” said Busfield. “From the feedback I’ve had, we’ve beaten ourselves with our approach.

“I’ve said to the guys this week that we are only as good as each other, but I think we’ll be all right.”

Busfield, though, knows South Molton, who sit a point behind them having played a game less, will be tricky opponents. Saracens have already beaten them in a cup match this year, but Busfield knows that will count for little.

“South Molton are a good team,” he said. “We’ve already played them in the National Vase and it is a potential banana skin for us.”

Despite suffering two narrow defeats and a draw from their opening five matches, Busfield is confident his team can get themselves back in the promotion race.

“The two games we’ve lost have been away,” he said. “So we just need to make sure we do a job at home. If we do that we’re back in the game.”

OPMs are also hoping to be ‘in the game’ come the end of the season.OPMs v Argaum

At the moment they are seventh but have only played three matches, two of which they have won.

They were without a league match last Saturday and instead played a Lockie Cup game against Saltash seconds, but their last Devon One was called off after the referee did not turn up.

“That’s twice that’s happened to us this season,” said coach Leigh Puttock. “We went all the way to North Tawton only for the referee not to turn up. Now we have to find another weekend to go there.

“It is hard to keep boys interested if you are not playing games.”

Puttock still believes his team will be in the running for promotion.

“We’ve got good strength in depth and we have not really got out of third gear yet. I believe we will be there or there abouts and I’d be disappointed if we’re not.

“But Topsham are always a hard team to beat. They are very physical up front and from past experience playing against them you really have to earn your victory, so it’s vital we are at our strongest this week.”

OPMs will hand league debuts to University of Plymouth centre Jake Taylor and flanker Tom Von, who Puttock describes as ‘real talents’.

There are no Devon Two matches this weekend, while winless St Columba & Torpoint are also without a match in Devon One.

For a full list of South West rugby fixtures, click HERE




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