Plymouth Albion / Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge look to cause another derby upset

Lewis PatersonIVYBRIDGE believe the pressure will be on Exmouth on Saturday when the sides clash at the Imperial Recreation Ground in National Three South West.

The Bridgers stunned Jon Hill’s title-chasing side earlier in the season, winning 29-20 at Cross-in-Hand.

Last season’s runners-up Exmouth then found some good form, winning eight games in a row at the end of 2015, and were top of the table going into the New Year.

However, they lost top spot last weekend when they went down 30-10 away at Lydney, who took over the leadership of the division.

Exmouth, unbeaten at home, desperately want to return to winning ways this weekend and gain revenge for their loss at Ivybridge in September.

Ivybridge, who sit ninth in the table, are happy to take on the role as underdogs again, although player-coach Lewis Paterson says his side have to take confidence from their win over Exmouth earlier this season.

“Because of what happened last time and the way Exmouth have been going they will be looking to get another home win and will be pretty confident about it,” said Paterson.

“They will be under pressure as they need to win. We want to win and it will be two different approaches.”

He added: “Hopefully, they do respect us and I don’t think they will be taking us lightly.”

Ivybridge, who will also play Exmouth in the Devon Cup semi-finals, have yet to play in 2016 after their scheduled home match against Barnstaple last Saturday was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Paterson, though, admits training has been good this week and his team are ready for their first match since December 19.

“Training has been really good this week,” said Paterson. “We are really targeting this game after missing out of the chance to play Barnstaple last week.

“There is a confident atmosphere at the club.

“We know it is going to be a very difficult game at Exmouth, but the match against them at the start of the season has given us confidence. Everyone is very positive.”

Ivybridge, who are keen to keep their good Devon derby record going, will be without player-coach Gareth Elliott this weekend due to work commitments. Captain Jay Geraty is still on the sidelines, although he did do some very light training this week after dislocating his knee at the start of December and the club hope he might be back in match action by the end of February.

However, Ivybridge are able to welcome back Alex Hall, Ritchie Luscombe and George de Mendonca to their squad.

Exmouth, who are averaging more than 50 points a game at home this season, should have former Albion players Ruairi Cushion and James Harris back after they missed their game at Lydney.


Devonport Services and Saltash in action earlier this season (picture by Mark Andrews)

Devonport Services and Saltash in action earlier this season (picture by Mark Andrews)

THE big match in Western Counties West is at the Rectory where Devonport Services host neighbours and fellow strugglers Saltash.

Both sides are desperate for a win to move out of the bottom three.

The two clubs made impressive starts to the season – Services picking up a maximum 15 points from their opening three games and Saltash claiming four wins in six – but the pair have been struggling for form since.

Services, might currently sit one place and two points behind Saltash, but they have enjoyed a bit more form recently. They would be above the Ashes if they were awarded the four points for beating leaders Kingsbridge in December – a match that was abandoned a few minutes early due to an injury to the referee.

Services also beat second-placed Exeter University at the end of November.

Saltash, who have been missing some key players in recent weeks, have not won since the end of October.

When the teams met at Moorlands Lane at the start of the season, Services triumphed 27-21 in a thrilling contest.


PLYMOUTH Argaum’s director of rugby Dave Sansom expects a really tough contest in his side’s first home match of 2016.

Seventh-placed Argaum entertain fourth-placed Falmouth at Bickleigh Down in the Cornwall/Devon League.

argaum5Argaum were gutted to controversially lose 28-27 at Falmouth in September.

“A few decisions cost us down there,” said Sansom (pictured). “It was one of those days, but we played very well.

“Falmouth, though, are a very good side. They are not fourth for no reason.

“It is going to be a hard game this week. All the top four teams in this league are good sides.

“They (Falmouth) have got a hell of a kicker, but now we are into the second half of the season we know who we are playing against and that makes a big difference.

“The weather forecast is not too good for this week and we will be playing against a large pack of forwards so we are going to really have to pull our finger out and play to our strengths and keep hold of the ball.”

Argaum were without a game last weekend after their match at Hayle was postponed.

Fellow Plymouth Combination side Plymstock Albion Oaks did play last Saturday and they returned to winning ways by beating Bodmin 25-12 at Horsham Fields.

This weekend they face a tough task when they travel to leaders Withycombe, who have only lost twice this term.

If Oaks could pull off a stunning away victory they could move back into the top four.

Meanwhile, relegation-threatened Tavistock will be looking for a much-needed win away at bottom club Newquay Hornets.

Tavistock, relegated from Western Counties West last season, are only staying out of the bottom three on points difference and have lost their last four fixtures.


THE top match in Devon One on Saturday is at King George V Playing Fields at Elburton where OPMs host city rivals Tamar Saracens.

Both teams are gunning for the points for differing reasons.

OPMsSaracens, who last week booked their place in the RFU South West Junior Vase final, still have their eyes on promotion.

They currently sit fourth, but could move up to second this weekend if they win and they also have a game in hand.

OPMs, meanwhile, are keen to move away from the dog-fight towards the bottom of the table. They currently sit sixth, but are only three points ahead of second-from-bottom New Cross.

OPMs were boosted by a 21-17 away win at South Molton before Christmas and coach Leigh Puttock hopes that result, achieved with an understrength side, can kick-start their season.

“It was a very good win,” said Puttock. “We probably took three-quarters of our second team and they (South Molton) had a VPs day, a full squad out and were expecting a big win.

“It was all about spirit and guile for us that day and, if I’m honest, that could be the turning point of our season.”

According to Puttock, OPMs’ first turning point of this season came when they played Tamar Saracens away in September and lost 56-0.

“That gave a few players a bit of a shock,” said Puttock.

He added: “They (Tamar Saracens) are a strong side, but we will go into the game and try and be confident. It’s our first game of 2016 and we want to win.”

OPMs are boosted by the return of a number of players following the Christmas holiday.

Tamar Saracens will be missing a few key players, including goalkicker Tom Rigby.

But Sarries coach Stuart Busfield has been pleased with his side’s strength in depth this season and he is hoping they can keep their good form going, although he expects OPMs to offer a much sterner test than earlier in the season.

“It is a big game for us,” said Busfield. “We have talked to the players this week and we have told them that if any have expectations that this game will be the same as before to put that to the back of their mind.

“The club is on a high after last week’s cup win, but when you have a bit of success minds can start wondering.

“OPMs’ results have improved week by week and they look stronger than when we played them out our place.

“We are away from home and we are expecting a tough game.

“We do need a four-try victory, but that’s a big ask and it does change the pressure. That has to be our target though as we need to keep putting the pressure on the teams at the top.

“This game could be a real marker in our season.”

Saracens believe the strength and conditioning work they are doing with Elite Fitness is paying dividends in the final quarter of games.

Elsewhere in Devon One, bottom side St Columba & Torpoint face a tough test away at third-placed Topsham.


OLD TECHS coach Shaun Bedford-Smith says every match is big for his side now.

The Old Boys entertain Buckfastleigh on Saturday still hoping to secure a return to Devon One.

Shaun Bedford-SmithThey go into 2016 sitting in fourth spot, but they are just five points off second-placed Torrington and will only play once outside Plymouth in the second part of the campaign.

Their opponents on Saturday sit just one place and one point behind them.

“It is a big game for us, but they all are now,” said Bedford-Smith (pictured).

“Buckfastleigh have been going well. They are a much-improved side. They beat leaders Ilfracombe last time out. That was Ilfracombe’s first defeat.

“Most of the teams in this league are all pretty close, but you’ve got to win your home games against the big teams, if you are going to go up.

“It is a big weekend for us and we’ve not played competitively since we taking on Salcombe a month ago.”

Old Techs are virtually at full strength for the clash at Weston Mill.

Elsewhere in Devon Two, the unpredictable DHSOB entertain second-placed Torrington at Stonehouse Creek.

DHSOB, who have proved they can match anyone on their day, could have a major say on the outcome of the league.

Bottom club Plympton Victoria, meanwhile, entertain the team just above them, Salcombe, at Marsh Mills.

View South West rugby fixtures HERE


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