IVYBRIDGE coach Lewis Paterson is hoping his National Three South West team can offer a challenge to National One outfit Plymouth Albion when the sides meet at Brickfields in a pre-season match on Thursday evening.
The Bridgers were beaten 66-12 away in a 90 minute (three period) contest at National Two club Taunton on Saturday, while Albion have overcome Exmouth 62-5 and Camborne 43-12 in their opening pre-season games.
Paterson, though, says Ivybridge will have much more strength in depth against Plymouth than they had against Taunton and he is expecting his team to be more competitive.
“It will be difficult and I think we are going to learn a lot, but we will be going out there to challenge,” said Paterson.
“I know their team, but I’m hoping with the depth of our squad we can do well. I don’t expect it to be a score like Taunton.”
Paterson says Albion have paid Ivybridge a major compliment by naming a strong side.
“They have got a really strong side out,” said Paterson.
“I went to watch Albion against Camborne and I have been sent through their team and they have a few boys who weren’t playing last Sunday.
“They have brought in the likes of Kieran Hallett, Dan Williams, Rupert Freestone and Nile Dacres, so it just shows they are taking us seriously.”
Paterson had no worries about accepting the offer to play higher league Albion and Taunton.
“I’ve got aspirations for Ivybridge and I wouldn’t be able to give the players that vision if we don’t play these sides,” he said.
“Three or four years ago if Ivybridge and said they were going to play Albion and Taunton in pre-season people would have laughed.
“We have earned that right to play these teams in pre-season.
“Albion are putting a full strength side out against us because they feel we have developed into a reasonably good side with good quality players on our day.
“It is nice that we have got that far and the journey is only going to continue. We have got to use these experiences to help us develop to where we want to be.
“We have two other games. We have got Plymstock Albion Oaks at home on Friday and Bude the following Saturday.”
Ivybridge are set to include former Albion forward Jamie Tripcony, who joined the Bridgers this summer as a player-coach, in their side on Thursday.
He missed the trip to Taunton as did fellow forward Dom Loomes, who is also back. Paterson believes having those two players available will help them at set plays.
Prop Matt Finn is also available again, as are youngsters like Jacob Kingscott, Damon Akerman and Sam Kingscott.
“I am looking forward to seeing how we do having some players back and having some good depth,” said Paterson.
“We were lacking depth at Taunton. We went up with 19 players, whereas Taunton had a squad of 45 and they were all National Two standard players.
“But our players learnt a lot. It was a 90 minute game of rugby – three 30 minutes – and we stuck at it and showed really good character. Every single player gave it their all against a very, very Taunton side.
“We ran in a couple of good scores against them and there were certain areas of our game we were able to execute quite well, but they just broke us through the middle quite easily through a lack of players not quite understanding our systems. It is still early days.
“But we are really looking forward to this game and I know how they are going to approach it. They are going to try and target us, but I’d like to think we are a lot stronger than they think.”
Albion, who are only playing lower league teams in pre-season, are set to include former Ivybridge back Cameron Setter on their bench on Thursday.
The scrum-half broke his leg and suffered a dislocated ankle in Albion’s final home match of last season against Hartpury College.
He had received a number of offers from clubs, including from the top two divisions, after an impressive season but he had not signed them as he was waiting to hear from Albion.
Those clubs withdrew their offers when he broke his leg and he also was not offered anything at the time from Plymouth.
But Setter has been training and doing rehab with Albion this summer and has made good progress in recent weeks, resulting in him possibly getting the chance to prove his fitness against the club where his dad, Paul, is director of rugby.
Meanwhile, Devonport Services are also in action on Thursday when they host Paignton in a training match at the Rectory.