IVYBRIDGE are hoping to pull in a big crowd for their vital National Three South West derby match with Newton Abbot on Saturday (2.30pm).
The game ties in with the club’s vice-presidents’ day.
Ninth-placed Ivybridge will start the match one point and one place above Newton Abbot, who have not finished outside the top seven since coming into the league in 2010.
Both teams will be looking for points to give themselves some breathing space from the sides below them and both clubs go into the game on the back of heartbreaking one-point Devon derby defeats last week.
Ivybridge lost 13-12 away at Brixham, while Newton Abbot were beaten 21-20 at home to Barnstaple.
“It is a big game,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “It is also our VPs’ day so we should have a big crowd.”
Last week’s match at Brixham was Ivybridge’s first outing since December 19 and Paterson was really encouraged by the performance at Astley Park.
He is hoping his young side can build on that display and claim the double over Newton Abbot, who they beat 27-20 at Rackerhayes back in October.
“We are looking to really target this game,” added Paterson, whose side have played two games less than their opponents on Saturday.
“But we know Newton Abbot will be up for it, having lost by just one point to Barnstaple and with us beating them at their place. They are really scrapping for every point.
“We just have to take the positives from Brixham and focus on this week.”
Ivybridge do have fellow player-coach Gareth Elliott available for Saturday.
Newton Abbot will be without captain and former Plymouth Barbarians hooker Dean Avery due to a calf injury.
Plymouth Albion lock Shek Sherrif, who is on loan at Newton Abbot, is struggling to be fit. He is still having problems with the shoulder he dislocated in November.
But the Devon All Whites should have former Devonport Services back Kyle Browne back in their squad.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
RELEGATION-threatened Saltash have a massive game away at Wadebridge on Saturday in Western Counties West.
The Ashes have lost their last nine league games and find themselves second-from-bottom, four points behind third-from-bottom St Austell and five points off their opponents this weekend Wadebridge, who are 11th.
Wadebridge have played a game more than Saltash and so a victory for the Moorlands Lane club would really boost their hopes of staying in the league.
There were positives for Saltash to take out of their 28-13 defeat to high-flying Truro last weekend and they will be hoping to build on that against Wadebridge, who narrowly beat bottom side Penryn 19-16 last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Devonport Services will be hoping to make it three wins in a row when they host Sidmouth at the Rectory in another vital Western Counties West game.
Services’ back-to-back wins over Saltash and St Austell has seen them move from the bottom three up to eighth in the table but they are only three points above a relegation spot.
Sidmouth are currently two places behind Services in 10th but they do have a game in hand. Both sides have won six games this campaign and have exactly the same points difference. The clubs have already met at the Rectory this season, with Sidmouth narrowly winning 27-24 in the Devon Cup before edging out Services 24-22 at their place in the league the following week.
PLYMOUTH Argaum’s director of rugby Dave Sansom has told his team not to take bottom club Newquay Hornets lightly when they meet at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.
Sixth-placed Argaum will be expected to cruise to a ninth victory of the season against a Hornets side who are rock bottom of the table with just one win to their name.
“Our mind-set needs to be spot-on right from the start,” said Sansom.
“I would never take Newquay lightly. If you take anyone lightly in this league you will live to regret it.”
Argaum have not played at home since December 19 and after Saturday they will not be back on their own soil until February 20.
“It will be nice to play at home this Saturday,” said Sansom. “We’ve not played at home since December 19 and after this weekend we have got three tough away games. We have to go to Pirates, Hayle and Bude.”
Argaum are just hoping their pitch recovers in time for Saturday after flooding a couple of weeks ago.
“We are desperate to play it and I think we will,” said Sansom, whose team beat Tavistock 37-0 away last weekend.
That defeat for Tavistock saw them fall into the bottom three and they desperately need to find some form quickly if they are to prevent a second successive relegation.
This weekend, Tavvy have a really tough test away at leaders Bude, who have only lost twice this season.
Elsewhere, fourth-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks travel to seventh-placed Pirates Amateurs.
The Pirates are 12 points behind Oaks but have got three games in hand, so Saturday’s clash at Mennaye Field could go a long way to deciding the top six placings in Cornwall/Devon.
The Pirates have not played since December 19 when they beat Falmouth. Oaks have played twice since them, beating Exeter Saracens 80-0 last week and Bodmin 25-12 at the start of January.
IT IS a big weekend in Devon One at the top and the bottom.
OPMs really need to beat Totnes away to boost their hopes of avoiding a second successive relegation.
Second-from-bottom Totnes are just one point and one place below OPMs with a game in hand.
OPMs suffered a blow last week, losing 61-7 at in-form New Cross.
And they will not know what to expect from Totnes as the south Devon side have not played a league game since December 5.
Meanwhile, Tamar Saracens’ promotion ambitions are likely to be thoroughly tested by New Cross at Parkway.
As well as hammering OPMs last week, New Cross have also beaten second-placed North Tawton and St Columba & Torpoint in their last three league fixtures to move up to fifth.
Saracens are third with a game in hand on all their rivals and could move up to second this weekend if they can overcome New Cross as North Tawton are without a fixture.
“It will be a tough game,” said coach Stuart Busfield. “They have had a good run but so have we.”
Busfield says Saracens try to take the same mental approach to every game, no matter who they are playing.
He is hoping his team’s defence can secure them a vital victory.
Saracens have the meanest defence in the league, having conceded just 56 points in eight games.
“Any team in any league would be proud of our defensive stats,” said Busfield. “We will rely on that and hopefully our defence holds.”
Busfield has been pleased with how his side’s forwards have stepped up in recent weeks on the muddy pitches.
He also says the club’s RFU Junior Vase run is proving a big carrot for his players to perform each week.
Saracens are through to the South West final and still have hopes of reaching Twickenham.
This weekend the Ernesettle-based side are boosted by the return of powerful centre Fin Gilding.
Devon One’s bottom side St Columba and Torpoint, meanwhile, travel to fourth-placed Topsham, who could also move up to second if they pick up more points that Tamar Saracens.
DEVONPORT High School Old Boys are hoping they can do their Plymouth Combination neighbours Old Techs a favour this weekend and beat promotion-chasing Torrington at Stonehouse Creek.
DHSOB only have pride to play for now after having 25 points immediately deducted and 30 more suspended for breaching player registration rules.
They are upset over the punishment, for that insist was an honest mistake, but they are determined to save their season by winning one of the two cups they are still in.
They can also have a major say on who claims the top two spots in the league.
Old Techs are the new leaders of the division, but just four points seperates them from fourth-placed Torrington, who have two games in hand. Dartmouth and Illfracombe fill the second and third spots.
Old Boys director of rugby Mike Freeman (pictured) says given a choice he would like Old Techs to win promotion.
“I would love Old Techs to do it,” said Freeman. “We should have beaten them once this season but I applaud what they are doing and they have got some good players. I wish them the best and, hopefully, they do go up.
“For us, our target now is the cups and the sevens at the end of the season.
“We are very upset at what has happened. It was an honest mistake and there was no intention to break the rules.”
DHSOB were having a meeting this week about the situation. Although everyone at the club is angry, Freeman favours using it in a positive way.
“I think we should use it positively and try and go out and win all our remaining games and prove to people that we are not cheats and that we just made an honest mistake,” said Freeman, who has just returned from holiday.
Freeman was also away for the game that DHSOB were penalised for and the club had someone new doing the team sheet that day.
Elsewhere in Devon Two, Plympton Victoria, who are no longer at the bottom despite having not picked up a single point this season, travel to Salcombe, who sit one place ahead of them with one win and a draw to their name.
For all South West rugby fixtures, click HERE