IVYBRIDGE will be looking for a much-needed win away at Old Centralians on Saturday in National Three South West.
The Bridgers have had a frustrating couple of weeks, seeing their match at Hornets abandoned when they were leading 12-0 due to an injury to their hooker Jay Geraty, while last Saturday they surprisingly lost at home to bottom side Chippenham.
Although they have remained ninth in the table, they do need a victory this weekend to give themselves some breathing space going into the second half of the season.
They also want to make up for last week’s poor display.
“It was not a good performance last week and the boys want to put that right,” said team manager Neil Thomson.
“We do need a win. After this weekend we will have played everyone, although we have to play Hornets again. We’ll have 14 games left after Saturday and I think we are going to be stronger in the second half of the season, as long as we remain clear of injuries.
“I’m pretty confident we will get enough points to be halfway up the league, if not higher.”
Ivybridge were understrength last Saturday but they will welcome back Jordan Anderton and Gareth Elliott this week, while they are also hoping flanker Alex ‘Reggie’ Hall (pictured top) might be fit.
However, the game is in doubt as Old Centralians’ pitch has been waterlogged this week.
“By all accounts conditions up there have been horrendous,” said Thomson. “They are going to let us know on Friday.
“If it is called off there’s not a lot we can do about. We just have to look forward to the Barnstaple game on January 2.”
In Western Counties West, Saltash and Devonport Services are also desperate for wins.
Saltash have lost their last five matches and find themselves just one point off a relegation spot.
They have a tough task this weekend when they travel to Tiverton, who after a slow start to the season have now risen to fifth.
Tiverton can boost former Albion players Tom Skelding and Wayne Sprangle in their squad.
Devonport Services could also do with a victory to move them up the table.
They are still waiting to find out in their 19-13 win over high-flying Kingsbridge last week will stand.
The match had to be abandoned in the 77th minute due to an injury to the referee, who would have also had injury-time to add on.
Those four points would lift Services into mid-table, but without them they would be second-from-bottom.
The Rectory side have an important match on Saturday away at Cullompton, who sit in 12th spot currently on the same points as Services, who have not yet been credited with anything from the Kingsbridge match.
In the Cornwall/Devon League, Tavistock also have a vital bottom-of-the-table clash.
They entertain Hayle at Sandy Park in a match they need to win to avoid dropping into the bottom three.
Tavistock, relegated from Western Counties West last season, are currently one point ahead of 12th-placed Hayle.
Newly-promoted Plymouth Argaum and Plymstock Albion Oaks are looking comfortable in the league.
Argaum will be looking to build on their impressive derby win at Oaks last weekend when they entertain fellow mid-table side Paignton at Bickleigh Down.
Eighth-placed Argaum, who ended Oaks’ eight-match unbeaten run, could move up to sixth if they did beat Paignton, who sit one place and three points above them.
“That would be nice, wouldn’t it?” said director of rugby Sansom.
“We are halfway up the table, which is not too bad for our first stab at this league and, like I said before, I think we’ll have a pretty good second half of the season.”
Sansom is just glad Argaum are at home this weekend, with so many company Christmas parties on Friday night.
Argaum will be having their own knees up after their game against Paignton and they just hope they will end a highly successful 12 months on a high.
“It is our final game of a pretty good year, so we might have a few drinks,” said Sansom.
Meanwhile, Tim Mathias’ Plymstock team face a tough away trip to second-placed Bude this weekend. The Cornish side have only lost twice this season, so it is not the ideal game for fifth-placed Plymstock to try and bounce back from their first defeat since September.
In Devon One, OPMs really could do with a win at South Molton this weekend after dropping down to second-from-bottom in a tight division.
OPMs might only be 11 points off third place with a game in hand but they need to start putting some points on the board after three defeats in a row.
However, due to the Christmas holidays they are struggling to get a team together to make the trek to South Molton
“We must have about 20 players unavailable this week,” said coach Leigh Puttock.
“We are really struggling. It is really frustrating as a coach.”
Devon One is proving really tough this year, with only St Columba and Torpoint cast adrift. The rest of the teams are all highly competitive.
“There are a lot of good, strong teams in this league,” said Puttock. “There’s nowhere you want to go away. All the teams are a different kettle of fish at home.”
OPMs had hopes of making an instant return back to the Cornwall/Devon League but, as things stand at the moment, they are more likely to go down than up.
“We are there (second-from-bottom) because we deserve to be,” said Puttock honestly. “We have to accept where we are at the moment and we are looking down more than up.
“We are not where we want to be because we are struggling to get players on the field.
“We have got a game in hand but I would rather have the points.”
OPMs have to play their game in hand at Totnes on January 2, which was supposed to be a blank weekend and when they might be struggling again for players due to pre-planned holidays.
However, the Old Boys are hoping once the festival period is out of the way they can find some form and rise up the table.
Promotion-chasing Tamar Saracens could move up to second if they beat New Cross at home on Saturday and other results go their way.
They would also be helping OPMs if they did deny New Cross any points.
“It would be nice if we do go into Christmas second,” said coach Stuart Busfield. “It would then be ours to lose.”
Busfield admits he has got a bit of a selection dilemma on his hands after an understrength team beat St Columba & Torpoint 55-0 last week.
Apart from prop Jack Martin, Busfield has a full squad to pick from for New Cross’ visit to the Parkway.
“Selection is going to be very interesting,” admitted Busfield. “Everyone is back and available this week, apart from Jack Martin, which makes it very difficult.”
New Cross sit third from bottom, but they have won two of their seven matches so far and finished within one score in two other games.
“We don’t know what to expect,” said Busfield. “We played them in a friendly last year and we scored quite a lot of points, but we’ve not seen them this season and I will certainly say to the lads not to take last year’s game as a benchmark.”
Saracens are the league’s top defensive side. They have only conceded 56 points from their seven matches and they hope that can be the key to them winning a second successive promotion.
Struggling St Columba could do Sarries a favour if they could take off third placed North Tawton at Defiance Field.
Saints are still looking for their first point of the season.
South West rugby fixtures available HERE