IVYBRIDGE are preparing for two games in five days against Devon rivals Exmouth.
On Saturday, the Bridgers head to the Imperial Recreation Ground for a rearranged National Three South West fixture (2pm), before they host the Cockles on Wednesday night at Cross-in-Hand in the Devon Cup semi-final.
Both clubs go into Saturday’s league match on a high.
Second-placed Exmouth, unbeaten at home this season, hammered Cleve 56-13 last weekend, while 10th-placed Ivybridge claimed their biggest win of the season with a 38-0 home victory over promotion-chasing Lydney.
“Last week was a massive confidence booster for the whole squad,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson.
The Bridgers are one of only four teams to have beaten Exmouth this season. The South Hams side won 29-20 at Cross-in-Hand in September.
Exmouth, unbeaten since January 2, will be keen for revenge on Saturday, especially as a victory would take them to the top of the National Three South West table, above fellow Devon side Barnstaple.
“They can go top if they win and they are making a big deal out of it,” said Paterson. “They are as keen as mustard to get the victory.
“We know they will be hungry, but we’ve got players keen to impress and prove a point.”
With three games in eight days, Ivybridge are ‘mixing’ their squad up a bit this weekend and giving some players opportunities and resting a few carrying knocks.
“People are being called up because they deserve a shot,” said Paterson. “We got confidence after last week and we’ll have eagerness because players will want to prove themselves.”
Ivybridge will be without the likes of Tom Scoles, Gareth Elliott and Alex Hall, but they will welcome back Matt Finn and Mike Cox to their pack after they missed last weekend’s game.
Young winger Damon Akerman and Tommy Newman are set to come into the backs, while there could also be an opportunity for a couple of the club’s successful colts side either on Saturday or on Wednesday.
PLYMOUTH Argaum face a second trip into Cornwall in the space of seven days when they visit Hayle on Saturday.
Argaum played Bodmin last weekend and were 12-9 up when the referee surprisingly ended the game early after a fight broke out.
The Plymouth team were unhappy with the whole situation, especially as the referee opted not to show any cards of any colour during the match. They are waiting to see if the result stands before making any official comment.
However, their focus is now just on the Hayle match and trying to secure another victory that can keep them in the top six. Argaum beat Hayle 47-3 in September but director of rugby Dave Sansom expects to face a different side on Saturday.
The Cornish club, who sit 10th in the standings, drew 15-15 with fourth-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks in their last home match.
“Hayle have been playing well recently,” said Sansom. “They have really stepped up since Christmas.
“I think they will be a different team to the one we faced at the start of the season – we’re a different team as well. Hayle are at home as well and they have had some good results at their place.
“But we are just looking forward to playing them after twice having the match called off at 10am just as we were ready to go to their place.”
Argaum will be without goalkicking back Jake Turfrey, who picked up an injury last weekend at Bodmin, where he scored a try. However, Argaum should welcome back Mike Hunt after he missed last Saturday’s game due to a knee injury.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks face a tough trip to promotion-chasing Withycombe.
Withycombe sit third in the table but have played less games than all their rivals due to their RFU Senior Vase run. They are just one game away from reaching Twickenham in that competition after beating Milton Keynes 31-3.
The Exmouth-based side have only been beaten twice this season – once by three points by St Ives and once by a single point at Falmouth.
However, Oaks head into the clash in good heart after a 27-0 home win over Falmouth last Saturday.
Tavistock also face a tough test when they host fellow promotion-hopefuls St Ives at Sandy Park.
Tavvy boosted their hopes of staying in the Cornwall/Devon League last weekend by beating Exeter Saracens 31-10 away to move out of the bottom two.
St Ives, though, will be desperate to bounce back this weekend after their promotion hopes suffered a setback with a 27-8 defeat at leaders Bude.
DEVON ONE AND TWO
TAMAR Saracens could move up to second in the Devon One table if they can beat in-form Totnes away on Saturday.
A bonus point victory would actually put Saracens level on points with leaders Wessex, who they still have to play, so it is a massive match for the Parkway side.
Sarries beat Totnes away in the RFU Junior Vase early in the season, but only drew with them at home in October.
And Tamar Saracens coach Stuart Busfield knows they cannot take the south Devon side lightly. Totnes have won four of their last five fixtures.
“They are tough opponents,” said Busfield. “It definitely won’t be easy, especially at their place.”
Saracens have got five players going to watch England play Wales, but Busfield is confident they have got the squad to cope, as they have shown in recent games.
“It is almost helping us,” said Busfield. “Guys are getting chances and they know if they play well they will get to keep the shirt.”
Meanwhile, OPMs are in desperate need of a win on Saturday when they host fifth-placed North Tawton at King George V Playing Fields.
OPMs sit second-from-bottom after losing their last five matches.
After this weekend they would just have three games left to save themselves.
The only team they can realistically overtake is South Molton, who sit two points in front of them but having played two games less.
South Molton travel to bottom side St Columba & Torpoint on Saturday and OPMs will be hoping their Combination rivals can do them a major favour and claim their first win of the season.
The big game in Devon Two, sees winless Plympton Victoria play bottom side DHSOB.
The match looks set to be moved to Plymouth Albion’s Brickfields ground and be played as part of a rugby festival in aid of the Fiji cyclone victims.
However, Plym Vic, who are the home side, have yet to confirm the switch of venue. The Plymouth Devils are in action at Marsh Mills at the same time in a pre-season launch and so DHSOB hope their rivals will agree and help make a special day at Brickfields.
If the league match does take place it will be one of three at Albion’s ground that day. That match is scheduled for 1pm on the main pitch, with DHSOB Wizards taking on Plymstock Albion Oaks’ IIIs in the semi-final of the Ellis Trophy on the top field. Then at 2.30pm a Plymouth Fiji team will take on a combined Kingsbridge/Old Techs side.
The day will conclude with Six Nations rugby and then a Fijian evening event starting at 6.30pm.
“By all accounts there are 300 Fijians coming down to try and raise money,” said DHSOB’s director of rugby Mike Freeman.
“Hopefully, we’ll get some Albion and some other rugby supporters as well. We should get a decent crowd – there’ll be a 100 players for a start.”
DHSOB, who had 25 points deducted for registration errors, could move to within five points of Plym Vic if they were to win.
Plym Vic still have not won a game this season, but Freeman said: “They are a lot stronger this season. They are far more competitive and have had some narrow defeats.”
Freeman was frustrated his team did not beat Dartmouth last weekend. They outscored them on tries but 26-20 after failing to convert any of their scores and giving away a couple of silly penalties.
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