IVYBRIDGE will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season on Saturday when they make the long trip to Bromsgrove in National Three South West.
The Bridgers lost their unbeaten run last weekend when they went down 41-24 at home to early pacesetters Camborne.
Coach Lewis Paterson believes a long away trip is just what his team needs after their loss.
Bromsgrove, on the edge of Birmingham, finished ninth in National Three Midlands last season but were transferred to the South West region against their wishes.
They did appeal the decision but were unsuccessful and were also deducted five points for this season by the RFU for a minor breach of the rules in regard to contracting players.
Bromsgrove do appear to have struggled to overcome the double blow and are still looking for their first win of the campaign.
They currently sit at the foot of the table on minus three points. However, they have picked up bonus points in their last two matches.
Paterson is certainly hoping his team have learned from last week, where they paid for a poor opening 20 minutes which saw them go 24-0 down.
“We have just got to learn from it,” said Paterson.
“We just need to focus on this Saturday. We can’t let it have a knock-on effect.
“We are looking forward to going to Bromsgrove. A long away journey is just what you need after a defeat like that. It brings the team together.
“Hopefully, we can play a good game of rugby against Bromsgrove, who are not doing too well in the league. We need to capitalise on that and enjoy the journey back.”
He added: “I just think this game is perfect timing. We’ve had a tough home defeat, which we need to learn from, and have now got a long away trip to bond us back together.
“There were positives still to take from last week. We were really dominating against the Camborne scrum. They are known for having a tough forwards but our pack were really strong as well.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services are another team looking forward to hitting the road this weekend.
The city side head to Wellington in Western Counties West on the back of three successive victories, which has moved them up to fifth in the table.
Their latest success came last weekend when they ended Cullompton’s unbeaten start to the season with an 18-15 victory at the Rectory.
“Week after week we come up against top opposition, but we seem to be doing well,” said joint coach Mike Lewis.
“Our defence has really, really helped us out and put us in a great position to win games.
“It was enjoyable to see us playing a bit more rugby last week. Cullompton, though, were pretty decent and did test us a lot.
“Hopefully, we can do the same this weekend, but it is different playing away from home. At home you get those creature comforts.
“I think Wellington will be quite similar to Cullompton – well organised with reasonable forwards but who also like to play a bit of a wide game.
“However, the team seems to be quite buoyant at the minute and our boys love the away games because of the bus trip on the way back.
“Home games are brilliant because you are playing in front of your friends and family but away games are good fun and something to look forward to.
“But we know it is going to be tough.”
Lewis has been impressed with how the young Services team have been improving.
“At training you can see the incremental improvement at each session, even if it is only one per cent here or one per cent there,” he said. “Every session we are getting better, more organised, more structured and more confident. It is a really enjoyable place to be at the moment.”
Sean Dunn, who started at tight-head last weekend, is unavailable for this weekend’s trip to Wellington, but lock Tom Burt is available for a final time before he finalises his move to London. He is likely to start on the bench, alongside vice-captain Sam Bennett, who missed two weeks due to unavailability. Also available again is loose-head prop Joe Daley.
THERE are two big derby matches in the Cornwall/Devon League this weekend, with Tamar Saracens hosting old rivals Plymouth Argaum and Saltash entertaining Plymstock Albion Oaks.
Tamar Saracens, who have only claimed one win so far following their promotion into the league, will follow Saturday’s match with further derby games against Oaks and Tavistock.
But it is this weekend’s showdown against Argaum which they are most looking forward to, with the clubs last meeting in February 2014 when they were both in Devon Two.
“We have to be honest, out of all the local derbies, this is the one we want the most,” admitted Saracens coach Stuart Busfield.
“That’s because we have got history with Argaum in Devon Two. A lot of the other sides like Saltash and Oaks’ first teams we have very rarely played.”
He added: “Everyone is excited about this weekend. It is a massive game for us.
“I know we have had local derbies in Devon Two but this is the real deal.
“Saturday will be the measure of our success over the last two years, in my mind.”
Sarries are trying to bounce back from a disappointing 50-0 defeat at Pirates Amateurs last weekend.
They struggled to get a team to make the trip to Penzance and they did have a club meeting in midweek to discuss the issue.
However, Busfield said: “There’s been quite a good atmosphere at the club this week. You would expect the opposite after a drubbing.
“But the players have all got together and had a chat, which is what they needed to do. No-one wants to let down their friends.
“I think the last couple of weeks have not really shown what our capabilities are.
“We’ve had snippets, like in the Paignton game and in the first half against Penryn we were outstanding, but we just weren’t able to maintain it.
“Even last week, although it was a drubbing, were we’d had a problem the week before maintaining our fitness, last Saturday the final 20 minutes was probably the best bit of our game.
“Every time I spot an area I think we need to work on the guys do address it, but we have not been consistent. Where we were good one week, we seem to let that go to cover up the area that we needed to work on.
“But the next four or five weeks are critical for our season. There’s no doubt about that.”
Busfield hopes having a run of derbies will help his team.
“Playing local teams everyone knows each other,” he said. “A lot of guys have played with each other.
“And, with the exception of Tavistock for me, I know the other coaches well. I’ve played with Taff Howells before, with Tim (Mathias) and Red (Richard Thompson) at Saltash.
“We are all going to know a bit about each other and, without knowing it, I would imagine we are all coaching similarly because we’ve been around at the same places.
“It just makes it very interesting and exciting as well.”
Saracens, though, hinted they will change their game-plan this week after having Argaum watched last Saturday.
They will also be boosted by the return of some key players, while Dave Chorley is set to continue his comeback from a serious shoulder injury after making an impression last weekend on his first appearances since last season.
Plymouth Argaum, like Tamar Saracens, only have one win to their name so far, which came against Withycombe. Their defeats have all be close, losing 6-0 to the Pirates Amateurs, 26-21 at Plymstock Albion Oaks and last week going down 17-7 to Saltash.
“Last week there was only three points in it until the end,” said spokesman Stuart Quarterman.
“We have been playing very well and we have been in every game.”
Everyone at the club, though, knows Argaum need to start turning their narrow defeats into wins.
However, they are aware that Saracens will be determined to try and turn them over.
“We haven’t played them for two years, but there was quite a big rivalry at one time,” said Quarterman.
“We are very aware they will be hunting us – they will be targeting this game.
“This is our third derby game in a row and then we’ve got Tavistock next week.”
Argaum are set to be without scrum-half Ben Glanfield, who has been in good form this season but suffered an injury last week against Saltash.
Meanwhile, Plymstock Albion Oaks are expecting a big test at Saltash on Saturday.
The teams sit fourth and fifth in the Cornwall/Devon League table, with Oaks just one point and one positive above Saltash, who have won their last two games after their relegation from Western Counties West.
The Ashes beat the Pirates Amateurs in their last home match and Oaks know they will have to start better than they have done in recent fixtures where they have found themselves trailing by two scores early on before coming back.
“Saltash is going to be a big test,” said Oaks coach Tim Mathias.
“I still think this league is wide open. Realistically, I think it will be October before we see where we are.
“We have shown in our last two games that we have got adaptability. We are moving slowly in the right direction.
“This weekend will be interesting. You would take any form of a win away at Saltash.”
Saltash are combining the match with their vice-presidents days.
Meanwhile, mid-table Tavistock, with two wins and two defeats to their name, face a tough battle at home to third-placed Pirates Amateurs.
Tavvy were left frustrated last weekend after failing to score in a 39-0 away defeat at promotion-chasing Penryn.
Despite that defeat and a reverse against Paignton in their last match at home, coach Hammy Kerswill says the mood is still positive in the Tavistock camp.
“There is still a good vibe amongst the boys, despite two losses,” he said. “But a win would be hugely welcomed.
“We know it will be tough against the Pirates, but we must make the most of home advantage.
“In an attempt to inspire the lads and get them talking we got two ex-captains, Matt Cole and Pete Davis, up to training on Tuesday to off their input and it went down a storm.
“We’re just hoping that influence will carry through to Saturday.”
Tavistock are set to make a few changes to their side but could potentially be at their strongest this season.
The club are holding a beer festival to tie in with Saturday’s match at Sandy Park, which will continue into the evening with live music.
DAVID BUTT MEMORIAL CUP
OLD TECHS may have already secured their place in the semi-finals of the David Butt Trophy but coach Sean Bedford-Smith does not want his team taking their foot of the gas.
Techs travel to Plympton Victoria certain of topping Group D after their hard-earned 11-10 win over a resurgent DHSOB side last weekend.
“But we are certainly not getting too far ahead of ourselves.
“I think we are in for a tough game this weekend.
“Plym Vic have improved a lot – they are the most improved side in the league – so we are not going to take them lightly, especially on their own pitch.”
Although Old Techs are likely to give some game-time to players who were on the bench last weekend against DHSOB, Bedford-Smith has warns his players places are up for grabs for the semi-final against Devon One side Totnes on October 15.
“This week gives me a chance to play some who have not had as much game-time as I or they would have liked,” said Bedford-Smith. “Last week the game was so tight that we only made one change, which was at half-time.
“But players are playing for their places now. Anyone who thinks they can take their foot of the gas and plod around might get a shock in a couple of weeks’ time. The good thing now is that we have competition for places.”
Although they are unbeaten in the cup, Bedford-Smith still thinks his team can improve.
“Last week we did deserve to win and if we had taken better options we could have won by more,” he said.
“But that’s not taking anything away from DHSOB. They gave us a really tough game, which is what we wanted. We just need to be more tactically aware.”
Old Techs did beat Plym Vic 67-5 three weeks ago at Weston Mill.
Plym Vic are keen to improve on that result this Saturday.
The Marsh Mills-based side have certainly found an ability to score points in recent weeks. They did put 30 on St Columba/Torpoint last weekend in a friendly and scored 39 against DHSOB the previously, despite losing.
“We are playing all right, but there’s a few things we still need to address,” said Plym Vic’s experienced coach Howell Phillips.
“I am hoping we can score a few more points this time against Old Techs.
“We have shown Plym Vic are capable of scoring points in the last couple of weeks.”
Phillips believes the skill level at Devon Two has improved greatly in recent years.
Meanwhile, OPMs will be hoping to secure runners-up spot in Group C by beating Dartmouth away.
The two teams both sit on 10 points having won two out of their opening four matches.
OPMs’ defeats have only come against pool-toppers Totnes, who they narrowly lost 5-3 and 14-7 to.
They did beat Dartmouth 25-15 at King George V Playing Fields on September 10, but they are expecting the south Devon opponents to be tougher at home.
Although realistically OPMs are not going to progress to the semi-finals, with Totnes just needing three points from their final two games against winless Salcombe and Dartmouth, they want to keep building to be in the best possible form for the start of the league season.
South West rugby fixtures are available HERE