IVYBRIDGE coaches Lewis Paterson and Jamie Tripcony will be in familiar surroundings on Saturday when their side play their first away match of the season at Launceston (3pm).
The pair both had lengthy spells at Polson Bridge. Centre Paterson left to return to his home club Ivybridge midway through the 2013/14 season after 76 league appearances for the Cornish All Blacks, while Tripcony only left last season after playing more than 100 league games.
Ivybridge, who in the 2007/08 season were five divisions below Launceston, head across the Tamar in confident mood after collecting nine points from a possible 10, with home victories over Hornets and Salisbury.
Launceston, who were relegated from National Two South last season, are still waiting for their first win in National Three South West, having lost to Hornets away last week and to Dings Crusaders at home on the opening day.
“It is going to be a massive weekend,” said Paterson. “We have got two wins, nine points out of 10, and if we can maintain that and get another win then we have really made a statement.”
When the fixture list was announced, this was one of the first games Paterson looked for.
He admits he is really looking forward to returning to Polson Bridge.
“There is a personal score as it is your old club,” he said. “But I owe a lot to Launceston and so does Jamie Tripcony – that’s his boyhood club. Launceston to Jamie is what Ivybridge is to me.
“There’s no ill feelings to them, but we’ve got to play them. Like I said, we do owe a lot to Launceston in terms of our rugby careers and where they were able to get us, but Ivybridge is our club now. To get a big win against Launceston, with their fantastic history, would be huge.”
Paterson knows better than to take Launceston lightly, even with the difficult start they have had and all the player changes there has been at Polson Bridge.
“We know, having played for Launceston, that when you go there you can’t take anything for granted,” said Paterson. “They have a very hostile crowd – they get great support – and they always seem to do well at home, regardless of who they play.
“If you give them a sniff or an opportunity they’ll take it. Launceston have bred a lot of really good rugby players. We will be wary as they will be taking it very seriously regardless of whether they’ve not won or come down.
“This could be a good league for them. You never know when they might pop up with a win. We just have to make sure we are on our game and make sure we get forward momentum.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services are expecting a tough battle when they travel to bottom side Crediton.
The east Devon club may have lost their opening two matches, but they have not played at home yet.
Services’ joint coach Mike Lewis knows teams always want to impress in their first home match.
“Crediton is always a hard place to go anyway,” said Lewis. “Their teams tend to be all Crediton lads who have been together for years and they work hard for each other.
“It’s always tough to come up against Crediton.”
Services picked up a losing bonus point in a 22-19 defeat at Bude in their opening match and then last weekend beat fellow newly-promoted side St Ives 29-23 at the Rectory.
“We have not had an easy start to the season,” said Lewis, who side have been missing a number of experienced players. “We did not have much ball last week, but if we can have a bit more then we can definitely do something, especially on a dry track.”
Lewis is set to come up against his fellow Devon RFU coaches Wayne Reed and Jason Luff on Saturday. They both help out Crediton.
THE first derby match of the Cornwall/Devon League season takes place at Horsham Fields on Saturday when Plymstock Albion Oaks take on their old rivals Plymouth Argaum (3pm).
It will be the first of a host of derby matches in the division this year, with five Plymouth Combination teams making up the 14-strong league.
Oaks and Argaum are both in their second season at level eight, having come up from Devon One together in 2015.
Both claimed top half finishes last term, with Oaks finishing fourth and Argaum seventh, and hope to build on that this season.
They have each got one win apiece this year, with Oaks beating Penryn on the opening day and Argaum overcoming Withycombe last Saturday at Bickleigh Down.
Oaks will be keen to bounce back from their disappointing 45-17 loss at Pirates Amateurs last weekend and gain revenge for losing at home to Argaum last term.
Plymstock coach Tim Mathias said: “I’ve been fortunate to be involved in some big local derbies within the South West, but they are probably more important within a city because you see the people you play against on a weekly basis rather than every now and again.
“It’s good that there is so many derbies this year as the lads give up a hell of a lot of time anyway, like last week going to Penzance. It’s good for rugby in Plymouth to have so many teams at this level.
“However, although it is a derby game, our preparation does not change from week to week.
“Obviously, we try and think a little bit about what the opposition are going to offer and try an incorporate that into what we do. But, at the end of the day, it is just another team we need to beat if we are going to finish where we want to finish at the end of the season.”
Mathias added: “When we lost to them (Argaum) at home last season it was probably the best thing that could have happened as it gave us a wake-up call. I think a few people were getting carried away. They brought us down to earth but we were lucky enough to go to their place and beat them, so honours were even last year.
“But I don’t really want to lose to them again at home.”
One player who will be particularly looking forward to the game will be Oaks back Tom Richards, who joined them from Argaum this summer.
“Tom’s come into the squad and he’s really gelled with the lads,” said Mathias. “He’s really brought something to the squad. He demands high standards of himself and others, which is an attitude we want.”
Oaks are back at full strength after having a host of players away for their first two games.
“We have struggled with unavailablities the last few weeks so it’s nice to be able to pick from a full squad,” said Mathias. “I think we had 30 players training on Tuesday night which is great. It’s nice to have headaches, but I know there are going to be some disappointed people when they see the team for Saturday.”
Argaum have fitness concerns over captain Tom Holliday and vice-skipper Dan James, but they are hoping their players can show the same attitude as last weekend when they beat much-fancied Withycombe 25-20.
“We just need to show the attitude we had last week,” said Argaum spokesman Stuart Quarterman. “Obviously, it’s a derby but every game in this league is hard.”
Quarterman is confident Argaum have now got a big enough squad to cope with the possible absence of players.
Although Argaum finished in the top half of the table last season, Quarterman says the club do not think of themselves yet as an established Cornwall/Devon League side.
“We are still learning,” he said. “I don’t think we see ourselves as an established side yet. We are aware we have to keep on striving.”
While, Oaks and Argaum’s first teams clash in the league at Horsham Fields, their second teams will be battling it out at Bickleigh Down in the Lockie Cup.
Tavistock will be looking to continue their unbeaten Cornwall/Devon League start on Saturday when they entertain fellow early pacesetters Paignton at Sandy Park.
Both teams have picked up nine points out of a maximum 10 from their opening two matches.
Tavistock, though, have suffered a blow with the loss of inspirational back Luke Northmore, who has gone off to university in Cardiff.
Northmore has scored all Tavistock’s tries this season, scoring a hat-trick in their opening day win over Honiton and then four last Saturday at Lanner.
“He is a huge loss as he’s a class above,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill. “But that being said, we have Josh O’Neill back in the front-row, the very influential Mark Friend returning in the back-row and Seth Waterhouse, an ex-Championship player, making his return from knee surgery joining the row. Hopefully, he’ll make a big impact up front, but also as a communicator on the field.
“Dan Oner is also back for the next few weeks from the army and will slot onto the wing to fill the gap left by Northmore.”
Tavistock are waiting on the fitness of fly-half Mark Webber before finalising their team for what they are expecting to be a tough match.
“We’ve tailored this week’s training around organisation and information fed back to us about Paignton,” said Kerswill.
“The boys have a real buzz at the moment after winning the opening two games of the season. Much of this success comes from the players’ own efforts to recruit in the off-season. We’ve had 25-plus training twice a week for the last month.”
Tavistock will be holding their first sponsors lunch of the season on Saturday, with their three senior teams all at home. Their seconds entertain Bude and their colts host Torquay.
Tamar Saracens are hoping home comforts can inspire them to a famous victory over Penryn at Parkway on Saturday.
Saracens have not played on their own pitch yet this season due to improvement work carried out on it. They had to play their opening home match at Brickfields.
“We are looking forward to playing at our home ground again,” said coach Stuart Busfield. “It always helps playing in front of your home crowd.”
Saracens have four points from their opening two matches in the debut season in the Cornwall/Devon League, but Busfield has not been happy with their performances.
He is hoping they can put that right on Saturday against a Penryn side, who were playing in Western Counties West last season.
“The most important thing this week is we have a good performance,” said Busfield. “The first two games we haven’t looked like ourselves.
“I throw a bit of the blame at myself for that with selection. I have to think about the balance of the team rather than just picking outstanding players.”
He added: “Penryn were one of the much-fancied teams in pre-season so if we can get something out of the game then it will go a long way to boosting our confidence.”
Saracens are still missing players. They have not yet been able to pick from a full squad this season.
Saltash, meanwhile, will be looking for their first win of the season when they host early leaders Pirates Amateurs at Moorlands Lane.
The Ashes, relegated from Western Counties West, narrowly lost 3-0 at home to Paignton in horrible weather on the opening day of the season before going down 35-24 in an entertain game at Penryn last weekend.
DAVID BUTT MEMORIAL TROPHY
PLYMPTON Victoria coach Howell Phillips admits he is not sure what his team will face on Saturday when they host big rivals DHSOB in Group D of the David Butt Trophy at Marsh Mills.
DHSOB did not play last weekend after getting a walkover against St Columba/Torpoint, who have withdrawn from the competition.
But in their first match, the Old Boys only had 11 players, with most of their Fijians away, and lost 105-15 to Old Techs.
“I think they are chasing up their Fijians,” said Phillips. “Knowing our luck they will all turn up this weekend.”
Whoever his team face, Phillips is hoping they can play like they did in their 10-0 opening day win over St Columba, but be even more clinical in the attacking third.
“We are at home, so that should give us an edge,” said Phillips.
Old Techs, who beat Plym Vic 67-5 last weekend to continue their winning start to the season, are without a match this weekend after St Columba withdrew.
In Group C, OPMs will be hoping to push their claims of reaching the knockout stages by beating league rivals Salcombe at King George V Playing Fields.
OPMs lie second in the pool behind Totnes after beating Dartmouth at home last weekend.
If they could get another win over Salcombe they would be in a great position to challenge for top spot, with Totnes still to visit Elburton.
South West rugby fixtures can be found HERE