A BILLY Pinkus penalty in the last minute of normal time secured Ivybridge a 9-7 opening day home win over Hornets at a rain-soaked Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in National Three South West.
Ivybridge, with their back-row impressing, had the better of the first half and led 6-0 with two Pinkus kicks.
Their advantage should have been greater, but they missed another kick at goal and wasted a couple of chances near the end of the first period.
They missed another penalty immediately after the break and failed to make a five-metre line-out and scrum tell before Hornets scored a converted try in the 58th minute through Ben Fry after their first period of substantial pressure on the Bridgers’ line.
Both sides were reduced to 14 men in the 65th minute and then Ivybridge had to be at their defence best as full-time approached.
However, the Greens refused to panic and they put some good phases of play together to win a penalty on the left that Pinkus did really well to put over.
Ivybridge then kept the ball from the restart to see out the match and secure the four points on an horrible afternoon for rugby.
New forwards coach Jamie Tripcony (pictured), who had an impressive debut in the pack, was pleased with Ivybridge’s spirit in really difficult conditions.
“The boys dug deep,” he said. “It was tough conditions, but the character of the team showed, especially at the end. We got two points up with that kick and we just kept the ball.
“The spirit in this team is huge. The guys are willing to dig in and they certainly did that. We always had the belief.
“I know sometimes talk is a bit cheap, but these guys really live up to those words.”
Last season, one of Ivybridge’s biggest faults was their failure to adapt to wet conditions.
Tripcony said: “We have to adapt to the conditions. Maybe at times we could have dealt with it a bit better, but I thought come the end, to keep the structures like we did and keep the ball like we did, was a huge effort.”
Former Albion and Launceston forward Tripcony is still finding his feet as a coach, but he is finding it rewarding.
“I am enjoying the coaching,” he said. “But the guys here are so coachable. Their attitude and enthusiasm is amazing, so for me it is quite easy to coach.
“At times it is hard to adapt from coaching and playing, but, like I said, the guys’ attitude is unreal.”
Although the weather probably put a few people off, Tripcony enjoyed the atmosphere at Cross-in-Hand for his league debut.
“The crowd were fantastic,” he said. “The support in those conditions, really helped us, especially in those last dying moments.
“We want to make this a tough place to come and the guys are responding big time.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services suffered last-gasp agony away at newly-promoted Bude in their opening Western Counties West fixture.
Services had led three times in the game, which was all-square at 19-19 with 80 minutes on the clock.
But the visitors gave away a penalty in their own half, which was then moved forward due to indiscipline, and Dan Pearce kicked the ball between the posts to win Bude the match.
Services had travelled with a young team, with just two players over the age of 25.
Among their absentees was captain and fly-half Matt Anstis, who picked up an injury the previous weekend in a friendly with Saltash.
Devonport handed debuts to three colts and one of them, centre Matt Carwithen, had a hand in their opening try, which was scored by Luke Stannard.
Bude hit back before fly-half Alex Lambert scored a second Services try, which was converted by Phil Greenside, to put them 12-7 up.
The home side, who dominated up front, again responded with another drive try before second-row Tom Burt restored Services’ lead with a try, which Greenside converted.
But, frustratingly, for the city side, who had new signing Arran Webb impressing in the back-row, they were unable to hold on.
They did, however, return with a valuable away bonus point.
TAMAR Saracens were delighted to start life in the Cornwall/Devon League with a win – even if it was by the narrowest of margins
Last year’s Devon One champions claimed a 3-0 victory against fellow league newcomers Lanner on Brickfields’ top pitch, thanks to a Tom Rigby penalty.
“We’re over the moon to get a win,” said coach Stuart Busfield.
“We were a bit disappointed with our performance but the weather was absolutely horrendous. It did become a battle of attrition.
“I think we had about three-quarters of the game and opened them up a couple of times but failed to finish.
“In the end the difference between the two sides was Tom Rigby nailed his penalty when they missed with about five attempts from the same spot.
“Twenty minutes before the game we were not sure if Tom was going to be playing as he had torn a cartilage in his rib.”
Busfield added: “We did show real character. In the last eight minutes they encamped on our line but we kept them out.
“It was just so good to get our first win the Devon/Cornwall League.”
Sarries know they will face a tougher test next weekend when they travel to Paignton, who surprisingly beat Saltash 3-0 at Moorlands Lane on Saturday.
There were not too many high scoring matches around in the bad weather.
Plymouth Argaum, like Saltash, also failed to score, narrowly losing 6-0 to Pirates Amateurs at a wet and foggy Bickleigh Down.
Argaum did miss two kicks at goal that could have earned them a draw, with Pirates’ points coming from a Dan McGee penalty and drop-goal.
But there was better news for Plymstock Albion Oaks and Tavistock.
Plymstock Albion Oaks overcame the loss of 10 first team players, who were at Kirk Tunnicliffe’s wedding, to beat much-fancied Penryn, who were in Western Counties West last season, 15-12 at Horsham Fields.
Meanwhile, Tavistock, who only escaped the drop on the final day of last season, claimed the biggest win in the division on Saturday, beating Honiton 23-7 thanks to a storming second half display.
The Sandy Park side had found themselves trailing at the break, but a Luke Northmore hat-trick of tries and two penalties and a conversion from Mark Webber secured them a victory in Hammy Kerswill’s first league game as coach.
The 26-year-old former Tavistock player was delighted with the victory and the performance of his side.
“Pre-season went well and I think the effort and work the boys have put in paid off,” said Kerswill.
“We had a few missing and I think we had five debutants.
“But I said to them after the game the five missing, who are the first names on the sheet normally, are going to have to work really hard next week to get back in as it was a really good performance in wet conditions.”
Tavistock have a young coach and they’ve also got plenty of young up-and-coming players as well.
“A lot of the team have not played a lot of first team rugby but are as keen as mustard to learn. Everything you say, they take it in,” said Kerswill.
“The experienced players are also willing to listen to new ideas. At the moment it is going quite swimmingly but ask me again at Christmas as it could be a different story, but hopefully not.”
Kerswill believes the way Tavistock dug deep to stay in the division last season has given them some momentum.
“They really put in a good shift at the end of last year to stay up and there was a really good vibe and team bond and they seem to have carried that through,” he said.
The Tavistock coach admitted this season is a consolidation year, with the hope of building their numbers back and hopefully securing a mid-table finish.
DAVID BUTT MEMORIAL TROPHY
FOR the first time in nine years, Plympton Victoria opened their season with a win.
The regular Devon Two strugglers managed to beat last year’s Devon One side St Columba & Torpoint 10-0 in the opening round of the David Butt Memorial Trophy.
A first half Paul Cook try and Sam Willmington conversion gave Plym Vic a 7-0 half-time lead before Willmington added a penalty after the break.
The last time Plym Vic won on the opening day was back in 2007 when they edged out their then regular basement rivals Plymouth Argaum 29-12.
Experienced coach Howell Phillips, though, is not getting carried away, even though he was delighted his team got a victory, which is something they did not managed in the league last season.
“We didn’t do too bad,” said Phillips, somewhat understatedly. “We played quite well and most of the game was in their (Saints’) half.”
But he added: “I would have liked a few more points.
“There’s certain things we are still not doing. The players know they have to keep working, but I just want them to feel like they have played some good rugby.”
Phillips knows his team will face a must sterner test next weekend when they travel to Weston Mill to take on Old Techs, who destroyed DHSOB 105-15 at Stonehouse Creek in their opening Group D match.
DHSOB only had 11 players to start off with and asked to borrow some from Old Techs, who finished third in Devon Two last season.
Old Techs chairman David Evans said: “We had a strong squad out and they didn’t, but we played really well in awful conditions.
“We can’t remember the last time we scored three figures, so it was really positive.”
Old Techs are hoping their remaining group games will be more competitive so they can build up for the start of the league season, which is their main priority.
There were hat-tricks for Shane Abreu and Joe Bailey, who was making his Old Techs debut against his former club.
Jack Courtney and Rudi Baker were among the players to score two tries.
In total, Old Techs crossed the try line 21 times, with DHSOB going over three times.
OPMs are the only Plymouth Combination side in Group C of the David Butt Trophy.
They opened with a narrow 5-3 defeat at Totnes but they will have taken plenty of encouragement from that away result and performance against a side in the higher division.
“Next weekend, OPMs will host Dartmouth in the competition.