IVYBRIDGE are hoping to finally get 2016 underway this weekend when they travel to Devon rivals Brixham in National Three South West.
The Cross-in-Hand side have not played since December 19 due to the bad weather.
However, despite having played two or three games less than some of their league rivals, Ivybridge have stayed in ninth spot.
“Fingers crossed we do get a game this weekend,” said player-coach Lewis Paterson. “The weather is a bit better and Brixham were away last week so their pitch should be okay.
“It is coming up to a month since we last played.
“Brixham do have an advantage in the fact that they played last week. They narrowly lost to Barnstaple, but, by all accounts, should have won.
“It is going to be a tough game, but they are all tough in this league.”
Paterson knows fourth-placed Brixham, who still have hopes for promotion, will be out for revenge after Ivybridge beat them 20-12 at Cross-in-Hand back in September.
“Brixham, like Exmouth, will want to prove themselves by beating us at their place,” said Paterson.
“Obviously, we would love to do the double over them but it is not that simple. They are going to be up for it.”
He added: “But we have to go there and really have a go. We’ve got to try and take it to them.
“We have trained well again this week. It is all about us and how we are going to perform.”
Ivybridge, whose match at Hornets before Christmas was abandoned due to an injury and has to be replayed, have got a lot of games to catch up on but Paterson has told his players not to worry about that.
The positive for them is that they have not lost any ground in the table and still have three matches to play and conditions are likely to be more favourable when they do play them.
Ivybridge do have fellow player-coach Gareth Elliott available again this week, while flanker Alex Hall is also ready to go again follow an injury before Christmas
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
SALTASH need to try and find some form in Western Counties West before it is too late.
The south east Cornwall side find themselves second-from-bottom having not won since October.
They face a tough test on Saturday when they host fifth-placed Truro at Moorlands Lane.
Truro have won their last two matches, beating Devonport Services and Wadebridge Camels.
However, if Saltash could pull off a result then they could move up to as high as ninth, given how tight the division is this season.
Services jumped up from second-from-bottom to ninth last weekend by beating the Ashes 32-10 at Keyham.
They will be hoping to build on that performance on Saturday when they travel to 10th-placed St Austell, who have exactly the same number of points and wins.
The big match in the Cornwall/Devon League is at Sandy Park, where relegation-threatened Tavistock host seventh-placed Plymouth Argaum.
Neither team has played since December 19 due to bad weather.
“I think we will both be a bit ring-rusty,” said Argaum’s director of rugby Dave Sansom.
“We were playing some really good rugby before Christmas but we’ve not played since. They also need a win, so it could be anyone’s game.
“I think it is going to be a tight affair. It’s a local derby and the ground is going to be tacky. I would imagine there could be a few shocks in the league over the next couple of weeks because conditions can make it a bit of lottery.”
He added: “When we played them at home it was a close game and we do expect the same. With derby matches it does not matter where you are in the league. It was the same when we played Plymstock Albion Oaks.”
Argaum’s game might have been postponed last Saturday but they ended up having a busy weekend after their clubhouse was flooded.
“It’s not too bad now,” said Sansom. “A few boys did a bit of work on Saturday and then we came in and did five hours on Sunday morning, disinfecting it and pulling out the beer cellar.”
Argaum also launched their new under-seven and eight section last Sunday at the University of St Mark and St John.
“We’re really chuffed about that,” added Sansom.
Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, Plymstock Albion Oaks could move up to fourth in they beat 12th-placed Exeter Saracens at Horsham Fields.
Oaks are one of the few Plymouth Combination sides to have played in 2016, having beaten Bodmin on their own pitch on January 2.
In Devon One, Tamar Saracens entertain promotion-rivals Topsham at Parkway in a game their coach Stuart Busfield has described as ‘huge’.
Saracens, who are still in the RFU Junior Vase, could find themselves in second or third if they win this weekend with a game in hand on their rivals.
“It is a huge game,” said Busfield. “By all accounts they have strengthened their team, but we’re looking forward to the match.
“We have missed a couple of weeks and winning is a habit, but, hopefully, the guys remember what it’s like.”
Saracens hope to take advantage of second-placed North Tawton’s home defeat against New Cross last weekend.
However, first Sarries have to get their game with Topsham on.
“We are hopeful,” said Busfield. “We’ve got guys coming down on Friday and Saturday morning folking the pitch. We are doing everything we can to get the game on.”
Apart from Blake Smith, Saracens will be at full strength this weekend for the big match.
Elsewhere in Devon One, OPMs have a big match at New Cross.
Just one point and one place separate the sides, with New Cross having leapfrogged above OPMs last week with their surprise win over North Tawton. However, OPMs do have a game in hand.
Both sides will be desperate for the win at the weekend to move away from the danger zone in a tight league where four points separate four teams.
The only side who are cast adrift are St Columbia and Torpoint, who were due to entertain second-from-bottom Totnes.
OPMs were hoping the Saints can do them a favour and take some points off Totnes, who could move up to fifth in they were to win, but that match has already been postponed due to a waterlogged Defiance Field.
THE big match in Devon Two is at Stonehouse Creek where DHSOB entertain promotion-hopefuls Old Techs.
DHSOB have suffered a blow going into the match by having 25 points deducted for fielding an illegal player. That leaves them bottom of the table on minus 13 points.
However, Old Techs, who boosted their hopes of a return to Devon One last weekend by beating Buckfastleigh 26-0 in the mud at Weston Mill, are worried that could inspire the DHSOB at the weekend.
“This is another tough game for us,” said Old Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“Last week (against Buckfastleigh) we played really well. I was really happy as it could have been a banana skin as they had beaten top of the league Ilfracombe before Christmas. So to beat them 26-0 and get the bonus point was a really good result. I have to admit, the team even surprised me last week.
“It was a really good win, but this is a different game and a different week.
“They (DHSOB) might have a point to prove after what’s happened.
“We’ve played them twice already this season, once in the league and once in the Lockie Cup and they have both been really close games.
“We won them both, but, I have to admit, they probably deserved to win one and we deserved the other.”
Old Techs moved up to second last week with their win over Buckfastleigh. They are just one point behind leaders Ilfracombe and one ahead of third-placed Torrington.
Techs have played a game more, but Bedford-Smith admits he is happy to have the points in the bag.
“No-one else in the league played last week, but we’ve got the points in the bag,” he said. “We have got some tough games coming up. We’ve got DHSOB this week then Ilfracombe and Torrington, but it is down to us now.
“As I have said to the players, if we win every single game now it does not matter what anyone else does.
“But we just have to take each game as it comes. If we perform like we did last week then we are capable of getting the win this week.
“There’s loads of tough games in this league and there’s going to be a lot of movement, but I’ll be happy if we can just keep plodding along.”
Plympton Victoria, who now find themselves off the bottom despite having not picked up a single point this season, could do Old Techs a favour on Saturday if they could take something of fouth-placed Dartmouth.
South West rugby fixtures HERE