IVYBRIDGE are looking forward to the challenge of taking on league leaders Barnstaple at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday, according to player-coach Lewis Paterson (2.30pm).
The Bridgers have a good record in Devon derby matches this season in National Three South West, particularly at home.
They have beaten Exmouth, Brixham and Newton Abbot at Cross-in-Hand so far this term and would love to complete a Devon clean sweep on Saturday and add Barnstaple to that list.
Barnstaple may sit top of the table but they will not be taking Ivybridge lighty after they came within minutes of beating them in north Devon in September.
Ivybridge were winning but Barnstaple scored a last-gasp try to secure a 25-23 victory.
That is one of seven defeats 10th-placed Ivybridge have suffered by a single score since their promotion.
In their last two matches, against Old Redcliffians and Cleve, they have lost by two points and four.
Ivybridge have only played once at home in 2016 – on January 23 – and so they are looking forward to Saturday’s game, which was postponed at the start of January.
“We are going to target this game,” said Paterson.
“We are really looking forward to the challenge of facing Barnstaple.
“We know they are a good side, but we have got some boys coming back now from injury.”
A win for Ivybridge would all-but guarantee their safety in National Three South West.
They probably have enough points now not to be dragged into a late relegation fight but no-one at Cross-in-Hand will want to take any chances.
They do have four games in hand on some teams in the league, having only played 16 fixtures.
Ivybridge are hoping for a good crowd for Saturday’s match with quite a few teams, including Albion, having blank weekends and with England’s Six Nations match with Ireland not kicking off until 4.50pm.
PLYMOUTH Argaum’s director of rugby Dave Sansom hopes his team can return to winning ways when they host fifth-placed Falmouth at Bickleigh Down.
Falmouth sit one place and 10 points in front of Argaum in sixth, but the Plymouth side do have a game in hand.
Argaum have played the top two teams – Bude and St Ives – in their last two games but have pushed them hard. Last weekend they narrowly lost 15-5 to St Ives.
“We’ve played the top two in the last two weeks and done really well,” said Sansom, whose side had been on a five-game winning run before playing Bude. “Last week you could have tossed a coin to see who was going to win.
“It was 0-0 for 35 minutes and we missed a couple of penalty kicks and were camped in their 22 for ages.
“And the last 20 minutes was all Argaum. We scored a try then but it just wasn’t good enough.
“The difference was the line-out. Our line-out, which is normally good, just did not function in the wind.”
Argaum will be looking for revenge on Falmouth after a controversial 28-27 defeat in Cornwall back in September.
“This game would be a good one to win,” said Sansom. “We lost by one point down there and I was a bit frustrated as I thought the referee had finished the game early.
“I thought there was seven minutes, plus injury-time, still to be played.
“That was our first taste of playing in Cornwall and we learnt very quickly that you don’t get any Christmas presents down there.”
Argaum, like most teams, have players unavailable this weekend. This was supposed to be a blank weekend for all leagues but most clubs are in action as there are so many games to rearrange due to the bad weather.
“I think every team is going to struggle as the season goes on,” said Sansom. “Everyone was available for the games that we got cancelled. They and their families had those days down as rugby days and so don’t arrange anything but, understandably, they do for weekends they thought weren’t playing.”
Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, relegation-threatened Tavistock face a tough home test against Pirates Amateurs.
Tavistock, relegated from Western Counties West last season, sit second-from-bottom with just three wins to their name this term.
Pirates are seventh but have only played 14 matches whereas some teams in the Cornwall/Devon League have completed 18 or 19 fixtures.
DEVON ONE & TWO
THE big match in Devon One is at King George V Playing Fields where OPMs entertain city rivals Tamar Saracens.
Both teams are desperate for the win for different reasons.
Saracens are hoping to keep their push for promotion going, whereas OPMs need the points to avoid a second successive relegation.
Saracens, meanwhile, know a top two finish is in their own hands.
They are seven points behind second-placed Topsham with three games in hand and 15 points behind leaders Wessex with two games in hand and with them still set to visit Parkway.
Saracens have not played a league game since January 23 and their coach Stuart Busfield says his team are desperate to play on Saturday.
“Fingers crossed we get a game,” said Busfield. “We’ve had a long lay-off. We’ve not played since our cup game (the RFU South West Vase final) and we’ve not had chance to get that disappointment out of our system yet.”
Saracens beat OPMs 56-0 at the start of the season, but Busfield said they will not be underestimating them this weekend.
The Parkway side know on their day OPMs can match anyone in the division.
“They’ve had variations in results, so perhaps some weeks they have been struggling for people,” said Busfield.
“But I think at home they will be pretty strong. It is on their own turf so we are going to have to come out of the starting blocks firing on all cylinders.
“The good thing is that although we have not been playing, results have gone our way. It could have been really demoralising if teams had got well in front, but as it is we just have to win our games.”
Saracens are missing a number of players this weekend, but a victory would be massive for them as their promotion rivals Topsham and North Tawton meet on Saturday.
The only other game in Devon One is at Defiance Field where bottom side St Columba & Torpoint entertain the unpredictable Totnes.
The Saints, who are still looking for their first point of the season, have not played since pushing leaders Wessex hard at the end of January before narrowly losing 18-5 away.
They will be missing influential skipper Sam Winfield on Saturday, as well as number eight Dave Hussey and scrum-half Ben Green, who are all key players.
The east Cornwall side might be bottom of the table but, as they showed against Wessex they, are not throwing in the towel even though they seem destined for relegation.
Saints want to finish the season on a high and try and rebuild for next term.
With an eye on next year, head coach Damo Chambers looks to utilise the youth of Axel Nicks, who will make his debut after signing for Saltash, and Connor Harris from the replacements’ bench. Saints will also welcome back Luke Richards to the starting line up alongside Del Jenkins who is available this weekend from work.
Saints: Martyn Ruskin, Matthew Marshall-Price, Del Jenkins, Nathan Lacey, Ryan Horn, Luke Richards, Mike Grieve, James Dolman, Neal Walters, Aiden Nethercot, George Trevor-Harris, Adrian Kenyon, Josh Willocks, Axel Nicks, Damo Chambers. Reps: Jason Deane, Conor Harris, Steve Green
In Devon Two, DHSOB entertain fourth-placed Torrington at Stonehouse Creek.
Interestingly, the teams have not met yet this season. They will actually play twice within the space of a month, with the Old Boys travelling to Torrington on March 19.
DHSOB are still optimistic they can catch winless Plympton Victoria, despite having 25 points deducted for registration errors. They have appealed about the deduction, which was actually 55 points, but 30 were suspended. They have their hearing at the start of March.
Meanwhile, Plympton Victoria travel to sixth-placed Salcombe, who would be just one point in front of DHSOB had they not had those points deducted.
To view South West rugby fixtures, click HERE