IVYBRIDGE are hoping they can put an end to their November hoodoo on Saturday when they make the tough trip to Lydney in National Three South West.
Last season when the Bridgers won promotion from South West One they lost all their league matches during November and history is so far repeating itself this year.
After three straight defeats, the Cross-in-Hand outfit are keen to return to winning ways, especially after the frustration of losing their last two matches by just one score.
“We are on a run of three games without a win but that run is there to be beaten,” said team manager Neil Thomson.
He added: “We are a side that have always scored a lot of points. We are potent when we get it right, but I think November comes and suddenly the dry conditions change quickly to strong winds and much wetter weather and maybe it catches us out a bit with our style.
“However, the last two games we have had 65 per cent of the game. We just have to make sure when we do get in that green zone we come away with points.”
Ivybridge can take confidence from the fact that last year they came through their sticky November spell and re-found their form quickly.
However, Thomson admits Ivybridge will be the underdogs at Lydney, who were unlucky to be relegated from National Two South last year.
“It is a tough place to go, but you have to go to these places in the league,” said Thomson.
“We will be the underdogs as they have won three out of three at home, but we’ll be trying to get something out of it.
“We have not been far away the last two games and the boys will want to get back to winning ways.
“What is great is that there is still a really good atmosphere at the club. We had our 40th anniversary party last week and the atmosphere was great.”
The Bridgers will be without lock Dom Loomes for their trip to the Forest of Dean, while they are waiting on the fitness of centre Jordan Anderton. However, they do welcome George de Mendonca back into the squad.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST AND CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUES
DEVONPORT Services coach Bryan Crichton will be hoping his team can re-find their winning formula when they travel to bottom club Penryn.
Services have not won since September 19 and last week managed to blow a 12-3 lead at home to struggling Torquay – losing 16-15.
Three of their last four defeats have frustratingly been by two points or less, but they will be hopeful of ending their poor run at a Penryn side who have only won once this term.
Meanwhile, Saltash will have a bit of revenge on their mind when they travel to Crediton on Saturday.
The Ashes lost on the final day of last season at the East Devon side, which saw Crediton claim the Cornwall/Devon title ahead of them.
However, the teams have had contrasting fortunes following their promotion.
Crediton have struggled to make the step up, currently sitting second-from-bottom with just two wins out of eight to their name. The Ashes, however, are in fifth spot, with four wins from seven.
They were without a match last Saturday when their fixture with Okehampton fell victim to the weather.
In the Cornwall/Devon League, sixth-placed Plymouth Argaum will be hoping to end a run of three defeats when they entertain ninth-placed Bodmin.
Argaum have had a tough few weeks, playing St Ives, Bude and Pirates Amateurs.
But director of rugby Dave Sansom was really pleased with his side’s performance last week at St Ives, who needed a late converted try to win 19-6.
Sansom believes his team can take confidence from that display in west Cornwall.
“I was really, really pleased with the performance,” said Sansom. “The game just slipped from our grasp in the last six or seven minutes.
“But I was really proud of the lads. They played with a lot of heart and played like they wanted to play for the club, which means everything to me.”
But added: “You don’t get a lot when you’re travelling, especially in Cornwall.
“We have dug deep into our squad the last few weeks and I’ve been chuffed with how people have done. Four or five players had tremendous games last week, although I thought the whole side played well.
“The players and I are getting more experienced at this level. We just maybe have to adapt a bit more to the league. Devon One and Devon two are very similar and you do have big breaks during the season, but you don’t in this league with 26 games.
“The last few weeks, although we’ve been beaten, I’ve not been disappointed. We should have beaten the Pirates, we weren’t out-played by Bude and last week we only lost the game in the last few minutes.
“We just have to make sure we step up to the mark this week and try and get back on the winning track. Hopefully, we can.”
Plymstock Albion Oaks have been on the winning track for the last five weeks – a run that has moved them up above Argaum into fifth.
However, their form will be tested this weekend when they travel down to Falmouth, who sit one place and one point above them.
The only game Falmouth have lost was when they were understrength and were hammered 71-0 away by Bude, but at home they are unbeaten.
Tavistock, meanwhile, will be desperate for a victory at home to fellow strugglers Exeter Saracens.
Tavistock have fallen to 12th after three defeats in a row, with Exeter Saracens just one place and one point above them in 11th.
Second-placed Tamar Saracens will be hoping to keep up the pressure on Devon One leaders Wessex on Saturday when they make the short trip to winless St Columba & Torpoint.
The Saints, who finished third last year, have been really struggling this season and are rock bottom of the league.
However, Saracens will not be taking them lightly and with Wessex taking on fellow promotion hopefuls North Tawton, Stuart Busfield’s team could do with a full five points.
Saracens did beat South Molton 14-5 last weekend but after scoring two converted tries in the opening few minutes they did not build on it in poor conditions and missed out on a valuable bonus point.
Saracens have played most of their promotion rivals now and their only two defeats have come narrowly away at Wessex and North Tawton.
Busfield said: “We’ve had a tough start to the season and now we just have to keep on winning and trying to get bonus points.”
Saracens are expected to include Ryan Dingle, James Hannaford, Jack Martin and Fin Gilding, who all signed for the club recently, in their side to face the Saints.
Elsewhere in the division, OPMs have a vital match away at fifth-placed Totnes.
OPMs really need to win this weekend to keep their promotion-hopes alive after a disappointing 18-6 home defeat to Topsham last Saturday.
The Old Boys had the elements in their favour second half but just could not get over the try line.
“It would have been a massive win last week, but Topsham played the conditions better,” said OPMs coach Leigh Puttock.
“We have got a really young side and the lads are learning the game. Last week was experience for them but one you don’t really want.
“The positive thing is we are only seven points behind second and got games in hand.”
“They’re not an easy team to beat,” said Puttock. “And we’ve got a few players unavailable, so we are going to be up against up.”
OPMs, though, have been boosted by the arrival of some more players from the University of Plymouth.
One of them, Callum Vale, will be included on the Old Boys’ bench this week. Last week fellow student Tom Von make his debut at open-side flanker and Puttock believes he is going to become a key player for the club.
“These are all first year students and hopefully we can keep them for at least two years,” said Puttock.
In Devon Two, DHSOB will be looking for their second league win of the season when they host fourth-placed Buckfastleigh.
Director of rugby Mike Freeman feels his team are improving each week and he is just hoping they can get the rub of the green for once.
Last Saturday, they controversially lost 15-14 to local rivals Old Techs in the Lockie Cup – a game Freeman thought his team should have won.
However, a penalty count of 12-2 against DHSOB second half resulted in Techs winning and Devonport having two players red carded after the final whistle for complaining too strongly about how the game ended.
“The boys have been trying real hard not to give away penalties,” said Freeman. “And we should have won.
“We have got the ability and talent to beat anyone in this league, but it is just going to take a bit of time.
“We just have to instil belief and some organisation, but we are putting one or two moves together now.
“I think come the new year we are going to surprise a lot of teams and, if we keep progressing and stay together, I think we will pick-up some silverware.”
He added: “This week we’ve got Buckfastleigh and we will be looking for the win.
“Our Wizards side are also in action against OPMs. The big plus for us this season is that we are regularly putting two sides out a week.”
Elsewhere in Devon Two, fifth-placed Old Techs entertain winless Plympton Victoria.
Plym Vic have tightened up in defence this year, apart from their opening match against Buckfastleigh when they lost 92-0, but their biggest problem is scoring points. They have managed just 14 in four games, with 11 of them coming against Dartmouth.
View South West Rugby fixtures HERE