IVYBRIDGE player-coach Lewis Paterson admits his team are currently the ‘nearly men’ of National Three South West.
The Cross-in-Hand side have suffered nine league defeats in their first season at this level, but seven of those have been by just one score.
They suffered yet another near miss on Saturday when they went down 11-9 away at Old Redcliffians.
The home side, playing with the wind and the slope, led 11-0 at half-time, but Ivybridge hit back second half. Billy Pinkus kicked three penalties and he also just missed one that could have snatch them victory.
“The opportunities were there for us in the second half to take the game,” said Paterson. “But you have to give credit where credit is due, Old Redcliffians are experienced in this league.
“But there were lots of positives again for us. We are learning every week. We are not a side that is good in the wet, but every time we play in those conditions we are getting better.
“Old Redcliffians have a fantastic defensive record but we matched them on Saturday. We don’t get beaten heavily by sides.
“It was a good defensive clash, yet I thought our attack was better. But Old Redcliffians were at home and they know how to play their pitch.
“We are nearly men at the moment, but we’ve just got to move forward and into next week.”
Ivybridge have a big derby match this coming Saturday at Cross-in-Hand against leaders Barnstaple.
The big positive for Ivybridge was the return to action at the weekend of key forwards Jay Geraty and Elliott Worrall.
Hooker Geraty came on as an early replacement against Old Redcliffians for his first appearance since dislocating his knee at the start of December, while Worrall made his comeback in Ivybridge second team’s 38-5 win at Devonport Services.
“That’s a massive boost for us,” said Paterson.
In Western Counties West, there was disappointment for Devonport Services who went down 35-0 away at Torquay Athletic.
The damage was done in the first half at the Recreation Ground, with Torquay storming into a 28-0 lead at the break.
The visitors were much better after the interval but were unable to add any points for the first time in a game this season.
The defeat saw Services drop down one position to eighth, with Cullompton overtaking them after they beat Penryn 8-0.
Relegation-threatened Saltash did not play. They were due to take on promotion-hopefuls Okehampton and travelled to west Devon but when they got there they did not think the pitch was playable and so the match was postponed.
In the Cornwall/Devon League, fourth-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks snatched a last gasp 15-15 draw with struggling Hayle thanks to penalty from former Tavistock man Richard Goldsby-West.
Relegation-threatened Hayle had belied their 11th placed position and were leading 15-12 going into the final few minutes, but Oaks dug deep to return from Cornwall with two points that keeps them in the top four ahead of Falmouth.
Corey Jamieson and Jack Hardman scored tries for Oaks, whose next match in two weeks’ time will be against fifth-placed Falmouth, who are just a point behind them.
Plymouth Argaum remain in sixth, despite a 15-5 home defeat to promotion-chasing St Ives.
Argaum once again proved they can match the best teams in the league and with a bit of fortune they could have become only the third team this season to beat St Ives.
They had their chances but did not take them, with their only points coming from a late try by Jake Turfrey.
Although his team narrowly lost, director of rugby Dave Sansom is pleased Argaum are proving they can match the best in their first season in the Cornwall/Devon League.
They will be looking to get back to winning ways next weekend when they host Falmouth, who sit one place above them in the standings.
Tavistock’s losing run continued on Saturday when they went down 33-7 at home to third-placed Withycombe.
Tavistock, relegated from Western Counties West, have not won since November and are second-from-bottom, five points off safety.
There was frustration for promotion-chasing Tamar Saracens in Devon One after their match at South Molton was postponed.
However, a couple of other results did go their way, with Totnes beating North Tawton and New Cross inflicting a first defeat on leaders Wessex.
But Saracens, who have got between two and four matches in hand on their promotion-rivals, were not helped by OPMs 48-0 away defeat at second-placed Topsham.
With Totnes winning, that heavy loss leaves OPMs in major trouble at the foot of Devon One.
OPMs are second-from-bottom of the division and worryingly have only scored one try in their last three outings, while conceding 119 points.
Their next match is against Tamar Saracens at Elburton this coming Saturday.
In Devon Two, Old Techs kept alive their promotion hopes with a predictable 41-0 victory away at winless Plympton Victoria.
The race for the two promotion spots is going to be incredibly tight. Just four points separates the top four sides with Ilfracombe returning to the top after beating Salcombe, while Dartmouth, who had started the day as leaders, were beaten 38-0 by fourth-placed Torrington, who do have games in hand on all their rivals.
DHSOB’s hopes of overtaking Plympton Victoria at the bottom of the table are getting slimmer every week.
The Old Boys have won two matches this term but had 25 points deducted for registration errors which has left them on minus 13 points.
They have not been able to cut into that deficit in their last three game. On Saturday, they battled hard at Buckfastleigh but were beaten 19-5.