IVYBRIDGE will be looking to move up the National Three South West table and gain revenge for their first home defeat this season when they travel to Cleve on Saturday.
Eighth-placed Cleve sit one place and three points ahead of Ivybridge in the table, having played a game more.
An away victory could see the Cross-in-Hand side leapfrog above their hosts on Saturday.
But, more importantly, for Ivybridge they want to show that their 52-21 home defeat at the hands of fellow league newcomers Cleve at the end of October was a one-off.
Ivybridge were without 10 regular players that day and their makeshift side lost their way second half, having only trailed 12-9 at the break.
That is one of only two games this season where Ivybridge have not picked up at least a one point from.
Player-coach Lewis Paterson believes Cleve will see a different Bridgers side this week to the one they faced in October.
And he is hoping his team can build on last week’s 11-9 win against Newton Abbot and their performance against Brixham the previous Saturday when they lost by just one point.
“However, I think if that game was played now it would be different as those players that stepped up that day are now comfortable with our style and system having been training regularly with the first team. Everyone is on the same wavelength now.
“Cleve won the league we were in last season and so there is a bit of rivalry there, but our focus is just trying to take the positives out of last week.
“It was a good win against Newton Abbot as they had just lost to Barnstaple the week before when by all accounts they should have won. Newton are a good team and we just want to keep our momentum going.”
He added: “We’ve got a few players stepping up again, but it’s an opportunity for them to make the shirt theirs.
“A few played in the last game against Cleve and so will have a point to prove.
“But our main objective is just to keep our momentum going.”
One of those players hoping to prove a point will be Luke Martell, who is set to start at fly-half because of an injury to Matt Grieveson.
“He’s been a stand-out performer for the development team and is really coming into his own,” said Paterson. “He has looked very sharp in training.
“It’s unfortunate Matt Grieveson is injured because he had a good game last week but it’s an opportunity for Luke and hopefully he’ll take it.”
Ivybridge are also likely to be without forwards Dom Loomes and Gareth Elliot.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
RELEGATION-threatened Saltash face a possible make-or-break game at fellow strugglers St Austell on Saturday.
The Ashes sit second-from-bottom of Western Counties West, with St Austell the team immediately in front of them.
St Austell are four points ahead of Saltash so anything less than a win would leave Nick Skinnard’s team with a mountain to climb.
Saltash, who started the season well, have lost their last 10 matches and really need to find a winning formula quickly to prevent an immediate return to the Cornwall/Devon Leaguue.
Devonport Services will head to promotion-hopefuls Okehampton on Saturday in positive mood after claiming three straight wins.
However, they will face a tough test against Gareth Evans’ Okes side, who are unbeaten at home this season.
When the sides met at the Rectory at the end of October, Okehampton won a thriller 22-21.
PLYMOUTH Argaum’s winning run will come under pressure this weekend when they travel to Penzance to take on Pirates Amateurs.
Both teams are unbeaten since the end of November, with sixth-placed Argaum winning their last five.
Seventh-placed Pirates, meanwhile, showed their form last weekend by beating Plymstock Albion Oaks 20-7.
The Pirates are three points behind Argaum but do have two games in hand so this weekend’s match could have a big say on both clubs’ hopes of a top six finish.
“They (Pirates) are a good side, who are really hard to break down. We lost 10-8 at home to them. We were 8-7 up and knew we would be kicking down the slope second half and we expected to push on, but we just could not break them down. By all accounts Plymstock struggled to do that as well last week.
“They are a hard team to play against but we’ll be up for it.
“The last few games we have been slow starting, but we have to make sure we come out firing on Saturday.
“This is the first of three away trips now. We’ve got Pirates, Hayle and Bude and we are certainly going to find out what we have learnt from moving up from Devon One to the Cornwall/Devon League in the next three weeks.”
The Pirates have assured Argaum the game will go ahead, despite the bad weather and with Mennaye Field staging a vital Championship game the following day. However, it is likely the Cornwall/Devon League match will be switched to a nearby pitch.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks will be hoping to bounce back from their defeat at the Pirates when they travel to eighth-placed Paignton on Saturday.
After a slow start to the season, Paignton have really picked up.
Since Oaks beat them 21-10 at the end of October at Horsham, the south Devon side have only lost once – away at Argaum.
Relegation-threatened Tavistock will have their work cut out this weekend when they host second-placed St Ives at Sandy Park.
St Ives have only lost twice this season, whereas Tavistock have only won three and find themselves in the bottom three.
TAMAR Saracens are busy preparing for one of their most important weeks in their recent history.
On Saturday, promotion-chasing Saracens travel to Totnes in Devon One for a vital league match, while seven days later they will head to Gloucestershire side Widden Old Boys in the final of the South West Junior Vase.
Coach Stuart Busfield admits that big cup game is on their minds as they head to Totnes, but he is hoping they can still pick up a vital win in the league to keep alive their promotion hopes.
Third-placed Sarries were disappointed last week to draw 15-15 at home to in-form New Cross after conceding a last-gasp penalty.
“It was a bit gutting,” said Busfield. “We were kicking ourselves as even though it was a close game we were the better team and then we gave that penalty away at the end for them to draw.
“We are just finding this weather so frustrating as it is stifling our game really, but you can’t do anything about the weather.”
Last weekend’s draw with New Cross was Saracens’ second this season in the league. Their first came at home to this Saturday’s opponents Totnes.
However, Saracens did win at Totnes in the Devon final of the RFU Junior Vase.
“It is tough at their place and it was a close game in the cup,” said Busfield. “I am sure they (Totnes) will come at us again.
“If I’m honest, all eyes are on next week, but we want to make sure we don’t lose focus this Saturday, although we also looking at the squad for Widden and working towards that game.”
Saracens are missing ‘six or seven’ regular first teamers this week, but Busfield is confident the players coming into the side will do a job and will be keen to try and prove a point ahead of the big cup match.
Tamar Saracens are also hoping to pull off a major signing from a National League club within the next few days to add even more competition to their ranks.
Saracens are currently three points behind second-placed Topsham with a game in hand.
Topsham play New Cross this weekend.
Fellow promotion-hopefuls North Tawton should have been in action at OPMs but that match has already been postponed due to the weather.
Meanwhile, bottom side St Columba & Torpoint face a tough trip to unbeaten leaders Wessex.
Wessex have won all their nine games so far this season, while Saints have lost all theirs, although their performances have improved in recent weeks.
WEATHER permitting, there are two big Devon Two games in Plymouth this weekend.
One is at Marsh Mills where bottom side DHSOB will be hoping to close the gap on winless Plympton Victoria, while the other is at Weston Mill where leaders Old Techs have a massive game against third-placed Illfracombe.
Bottom side DHSOB have won two of their seven matches this season and lost two more by just one score, but they find themselves on minus 13 points after having 55 points deducted (30 suspended) for breaching registration rules.
The Old Boys have appealed against both the severity of the punishment and the procedure but in the meantime they have set themselves a goal of not finishing bottom of the table.
“We also want to win the RNEC and Devon Junior Vase and our Wizards team to win the Ellis Trophy, but, if all else fails, then we’ll be focusing on the sevens.”
A bonus point win this weekend would leave them on minus seven points and go along way of achieving their first target of finishing in credit.
However, whether the game goes ahead at Marsh Mills will be touch-and-go after the heavy rain of recent weeks. Stonehouse Creek is out of bounds this weekend as well.
Old Techs, meanwhile, know they really need a home win over Ilfracombe to keep alive their hopes of an immediate return to Devon One.
The city side currently sit three points ahead of Ilfracombe but have played two more games.
Ilfracombe have not played a league game since surprisingly losing to Buckfastleigh on December 5.
DHSOB have played twice since then and are unbeaten since November 7.
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