IVYBRIDGE will be hoping the weather is kind to them this weekend to avoid any further fixture pile up.
The Bridgers, who sit ninth in the table, are due to travel to seventh-placed Old Redcliffians on Saturday in National Three South West.
Ivybridge have not had a run out since January 30 due to the bad weather and have only played 15 league games, which is four less than some teams in the division.
Last weekend, the Cross-in-Hand club were left frustrated after Dings Crusaders refused to play after travelling down to Devon due to the state of the pitches.
However, Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson has repeatedly told his team not to worry about their fixture backlog and instead view it as a positive.
Captain Jay Geraty had been due to make his long-awaited comeback from a dislocated knee as a replacement last Saturday, but he should get the chance to feature against Old Redcliffians on Saturday.
Ivybridge, still in the Devon Cup, will be looking for revenge in Bristol this weekend after Old Redcliffians narrowly beat them 8-3 in November.
The South Hams side dominated that game and felt they had scored a possibly winning try at the end but it was not given.
Old Redcliffians are tough to beat and are the league’s best defensive side. The Bristol Combination club have only lost five matches this term – only Barnstaple and Exmouth have lost less – but they have only picked up three try-scoring bonus points, which is why they are not in the top three.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
SALTASH are running out of games to try and avoid an immediately return to the Cornwall/Devon League.
Second-from-bottom Ashes, without a win since October, have just eight matches left to try and save themselves.
The first of those games is away at promotion-chasing Okehampton on Saturday.
Gareth Evans’ fourth-placed Okes side have only lost three times this season and are keen to close the gap on the teams above them, who have all played more matches.
Okehampton still have 12 fixtures to fit in between now and the end of the season.
Devonport Services could move up into the top six this weekend if they beat Torquay Athletic away.
Seventh-placed Services sit one place and one point behind the Tics, who haven’t played since January 23.
Services have won four of their last five matches to fly up the Western Counties West table.
The city side will be looking for revenge against Torquay after the south Devon side came back from 15-0 down at half-time to win 16-15 at the Rectory.
Team manager Kieran Leach said: “After beating Crediton last week we need to keep the momentum going as most teams around us have a few games to catch up on.”
Services are forced to make two changes for Saturday. Flanker Luke Lomas is unavailable so Richard Bayliss comes in and scrum-half Tom Morgan is in line to make his debut at nine after some impressive matches for the second team.
DAVE SANSOM is hoping his Plymouth Argaum team can once again show they can be competitive against the best in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Argaum entertain second-placed St Ives at Bickleigh Down on Saturday after visiting leaders Bude last weekend.
The city side lost 28-3 at free-scoring Bude, but only after giving their hosts a run for their money. It was Argaum’s first defeat in six matches.
“We played really well,” said Sansom. “But we just didn’t get the breaks. It was a bit of an unreal game really when you look at the score. Even one of their supporters said they were quite lucky.
“I was really pleased with our performance. We had a few guys come in and they did really well. I’m really chuffed that we are not just a 20-man team.”
Argaum also pushed St Ives away earlier in the season. They lost 20-6 after the hosts scored a last-gasp try.
“We were within a score and were looking for that try but they scored a length-of-the-field effort. That was another day I thought we did well,” said Sansom (pictured).
“St Ives might have had a bad day, I don’t know. I expect they will come up on Saturday and play some decent rugby.
“But I think we have proved we can hold our own against most clubs in this league, like we showed last week.
“I would certainly like to think we can do all right.”
Argaum have not had a home fixture since January 23.
Meanwhile, Plymstock Albion Oaks will be looking to cement their place in the top four when they visit 11th-placed Hayle.
Oaks returned to winning ways last weekend with an 18-13 home victory over Honiton.
The Staddiscombe-based club will be hoping to complete the double over Hayle having won 24-0 at Horsham Fields in November.
Elsewhere, relegation-threatened Tavistock face a tough home test against third-placed Withycombe on Saturday.
Withycombe have only lost twice all season, while Tavvy have only won three times.
TAMAR Saracens coach Stuart Busfield has told his team to make sure they keep their promotion hopes in their own hands.
Sarries are currently fourth in the table but if they win all their games in hand they would be second, which would secure them a play-off spot.
This weekend they hope to push their case for a top two finish away at sixth-placed South Molton.
Saracens have already won there this season in the cup and also beat South Molton at Parkway in the league, but Busfield has described this weekend as a ‘potential banana skin’.
“They are certainly no pushovers,” said Busfield. “We had a good result up there in the cup at the beginning of the season but now they are really coming at teams. It is a potential banana skin for us.”
Saracens have only played nine league games and have not featured since their narrow RFU South West Vase final defeat at Widdon Old Boys.
“South Molton have got a couple of pitches so, hopefully, we will get a game this week,” said Busfield. “And, if we do, we’d like to try and put on a show.
“The guys are frustrated they have not been playing and when we have played it’s been in terrible conditions. For weeks we have not been able to release our backs like we want but I think the weather is turning now.”
On his side’s promotion hopes, Busfield said: “We can’t rely on anyone else to do it for us. I’ve said to the guys, if we get in that situation where we are wanting other results to go our way then we’ve not done our job.”
A victory for Tamar Saracens would help their city rivals OPMs, who could return the favour by beating Topsham away.
Topsham currently sit second in the table, but are only three points ahead of Saracens despite having played three games more.
OPMs certainly need a win for themselves to move out of the relegation zone.
They currently sit second-from-bottom but are only two points behind Totnes and three behind South Molton.
OPMs have only played two games since Christmas, so they will be desperate to play and try and secure their first victory of 2016.
OLD TECHS have still not given up hopes of a return to Devon One, although they know they will probably have to win all their remaining games to finish in the top two.
Techs are currently third, five points behind second-placed Ilfracombe and six behind leaders Dartmouth. Fourth-placed Torrington are also in the running as they sit on the same number of points as Old Techs but with games in hand.
Techs hosted Torrington last weekend but the match at Weston Mill had to be abandoned following a sickening injury to home centre Ian Young, with the visitors 5-0 up in a tight game.
Veteran back Young is still in hospital after suffering multiple breaks in his ankle as well as a dislocation, ligament damage and cartilage damage.
“It was just one of those things,” said Old Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith (pictured). “Luckily, they don’t happen very often.
“Unfortunately, it is probably a career-ending injury as he is 36 this year and he is going to need 15 months of rehab.”
Bedford-Smith admitted Young’s injury did upset his team but he hopes they can put it behind them on Saturday when, weather providing, they travel to winless Plympton Victoria.
“We don’t know what the weather or the pitch is going to be like,” said Bedford-Smith. “But, hopefully, the weather does hold out and we can get the game on.
“When we played them at our place I thought they did really well. Although we beat them 47-0 we only pulled away in the last 20 minutes. I thought they had improved greatly when they played us.”
Bedford-Smith added: “We know we are still in with a chance in the league, although Torrington and Ilfracombe are in the driving seats and Dartmouth are on a good run.
“If we want to be up there we pretty much have to win every game from now on.”
Plym Vic were beaten 82-0 away at Ilfracombe last week but they tend to be much better at home, although they have not played a league match at Marsh Mills since the start of November.
Elsewhere, bottom club Devonport High School Old Boys, who had 25 points deducted for registration errors, travel to fifth-placed Buckfastleigh on Saturday.
DHSOB did beat Buckfastleigh at Stonehouse Creek 36-25 in November and so will be looking for a rare double.
A full list of South West rugby fixtures is available HERE
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