YOUNGSTER Mitch Pinkus is set to be handed his chance at fly-half when Ivybridge travel to second-placed Old Redcliffians in National Three South West on Saturday.
There could also be a debut for young flanker Seb Slade, who is likely to be named on the bench for the Bridgers, who would leap-frog above Old Reds if they were to win in Bristol.
The two teams are level on points with five wins out of six each, but Old Reds have a superior points difference, thanks to the league’s meanest defence.
Ivybridge, though, have only been beaten by leaders Camborne so far this season and they are hoping that will still be the case come 5pm on Saturday.
“Old Reds will be very tough opponents and they will be up for it,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson.
“They did lose their last game to Hornets, but we know Hornets are a good side on their day.
“We are just focusing on this Saturday. It is always difficult after a week off to go on an away trip, especially to a side that are second in the league and who are a very good team.
“But we have trained really well and we have changed the squad around a bit and rotated some players.”
Mitch Pinkus is set to take over from the unavailable Matt Grieveson at number 10.
Fit-again flanker Alex Hall and second-row James Sloan are set to come into the pack, with Jamie Tripcony moving to number eight. Toby Evans is also set to come into the backs with club captain Jordan Anderton out with injured ribs.
“We are just utilising the depth we have got,” said Paterson. “We looked at the Newton Abbot game and, yes, we won but there was a large part of the game where we were behind and made a lot of errors.
“We want to start this weekend with a bang. This is the time of the year when in previous seasons results have tended not to go our way. However, previous years we’ve been going up a league every winter, but this is our second season in this league and we are a bit more settled, so we are looking to make an impact.
“We are targeting this game. We really want to win and give ourselves loads of momentum going into the winter months.
“They (Old Reds) did the double on us last year and we want to show we have improved this season and to do that we need to beat the teams that did the double on us.
“We are a good side but we just need to keep trust in our systems and keep working hard to get those points.
“We know against Old Reds we can’t make too many errors. We have to make sure we keep the penalty and error count really low.
“I think we learned loads from the Camborne game. We know when you are playing good sides you need to keep errors to a minimum and keep your discipline.”
Paterson is hoping Mitch Pinkus takes his chance as Ivybridge’s play-maker. He will be lining up alongside his brother, Billy, who will keep hold of the kicking duties.
“Mitch has been training and playing with a bag of confidence,” said Paterson.
“Matt Grieveson’s away for a few weeks and it gives us an opportunity to give someone else a chance, but regardless I think we were going to play Mitch Pinkus anyway this week.
“I am just excited to see how he plays. We are a young side and we now have a young 10 coming in with loads of confidence and lots of ability to his game.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
Second-placed Services entertain Torquay Athletic at the Rectory hoping to continue their unbeaten home record.
Strangely, out of their seven league and cup games this season only two have come on their own patch. But they have seen off Cullompton and St Ives at the Rectory and they would like to add Torquay to that list.
“We are looking forward to this weekend,” said joint Services’ coach Mike Lewis.
“We are really happy to be at home. It is four weeks since we had a home game and that’s too long really.
“It’s just nice to be back at home and be able to go into our own clubhouse and have a beer afterwards.”
Although there is extra pressure playing at home, Lewis wants his team to continue to embrace that.
“Some of the players say there’s less pressure away because there’s not so many of their own supporters watching,” he said. “They haven’t got their friends and family, but others really thrive and like that pressure and expectation at home. Hopefully, the whole team can thrive on it.
“In the games against St Ives and Cullompton that home advantage as got us over the line.”
Services have won five league games on the bounce, but they were beat away at Crediton last weekend with a much-changed side in the Devon Senior Cup.
“Last weekend was a bit of a blip,” said Lewis. “We didn’t play too badly but just didn’t have the right attitude. I think sometimes there is a league attitude and a cup attitude.
“Fingers crossed it was just one of those things.”
Torquay will arrive in good form. Prior to last weekend they had won three games on the bounce. That was ended though when they were narrowly beaten 16-15 by high-flying Cullompton.
“Torquay are a good side,” said Lewis. “They have only won half their games, but there have had similar scorelines to the teams we’ve played against. I think they just had a slow start.
“Torquay are always one of those teams that are either mid-table or up around challenging.”
Services are able to welcome back a host of players from last week’s cup loss.
Among those set to return are Sam Bennett, Tony Sibley, Adrian Montague, Aaron Webb and Luke Stannard.
PLYMOUTH Argaum are hoping to make the most of their underdog tag on Saturday when they travel to league leaders Falmouth in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Falmouth are the only team in the division will a 100 per cent record, having won all six of their opening matches this term.
Argaum, meanwhile, sit in 10th spot with two wins out of five.
The Bickleigh Down-based club are currently in the middle of a major injury crisis, which forced them to have to pull out of their Devon Cup match against South West One side Teignmouth last weekend.
Back-row forward Ryan Chivers is the latest to join their injury ranks.
He is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after needing surgery on an infected blood clot in his leg suffered scoring a try against Tavistock in their last league match. He has a 15 inch scar on his leg where the infection had to be cut out.
John Ireland and Jamie Burton are also unavailable this weekend, but they should be able to welcome back captain Tom Holliday from a back injury.
“It is going to be a test of character this weekend,” said Argaum spokesman Stuart Quarterman.
“But a couple of times when we have our backs to the wall we have produced some of our best performances.
“We know Falmouth and know they are doing well.
“Last year they beat us by one point away and there’s still a lot of boys in our team that are hell bent on trying to get that win that we should have got last year.”
There are derby matches for the rest of the Plymouth Combinations teams in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Saracens are desperate to start climbing up the table. Last year’s Devon One champions currently lie second-from-bottom with just one win to their name.
They were frustrated last time out not to pick up any points in a narrow 15-7 defeat at Oaks.
But they hope to build on that performance against Saltash, who have won five league and cup matches on the spin.
Oaks and Plymouth Argaum have recently played Saltash and Saracens have been talking to their rivals about what to expect from the Ashes, who were in Western Counties West last season.
“We have got a game-plan for this weekend,” said Saracens coach Stuart Busfield, who is set to welcome back Dane Waryck, Jack Martin, James Hannaford and Fin Gilding to his squad.
“We are also hoping to get a good crowd as I think it is the biggest game in Plymouth this weekend.”
Saracens were without a match last weekend as they pulled out of their Devon Senior Cup clash with South West One side Okehampton due to a front-row shortage due to unavailabilities.
Saltash, though, were in action last Saturday. They beat Bodmin away 36-23 in the Cornwall Cup thanks to tries by James Moriarty (2), Will Morton (2), Joe Ranayne and Ryan Rayner.
The Ashes have not lost since September 10 when they were beaten at Penryn.
The derby game at Tavistock will see Oaks player-coach Richard West return to his former club.
Oaks sit fourth in the table, with Tavistock, who lost at Argaum in their last match, seventh.
Plymstock have not won away yet this season, losing to Saltash and Pirates Amateurs on their travels, while Tavistock have only lost once at home.
They are hoping they can make home advantage tell again and bounce back from their disappointing outing against Argaum.
“We have got lots of unavailability again this week, but nothing we are worrying about,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
“We know it will be a tough game, but it’s a nice opportunity to see some players who have worked hard to get into the first team have a run out.”
Callum Thompson is set to return to the centre for Tavvy, who could have Seb Cox making his debut from the bench. They are also boosted by the return of captain Andrew Schuttacker and vice-skipper Martin Budden to their back-row. However, they are without the influential Mark Friend.
South West rugby fixtures can be found HERE