IVYBRIDGE suffered only their second defeat of the season on Saturday with a 31-14 reverse at second-placed Old Redcliffians.
The Bridgers, who had started the day level on points with Old Reds, had the better of the first half and led 6-0 thanks to two Billy Pinkus penalties.
But it all went wrong for the visitors in the second period as their Bristol hosts ran in four tries.
Ivybridge did go 9-0 up with another Pinkus penalty before Old Reds’ fightback began with two tries within five minutes.
That five-minute spell gave Old Reds the momentum to go on and get two more, one of those coming after both teams were reduced to 14 men, with Matt Finn getting his matching orders for Ivybridge.
Pinkus scored a late try for Ivybridge but it was no more than a consolation effort for the South Hams side, who have to pick themselves up for the visit of Bournemouth next Saturday.
“We knew going to Old Reds was going to be really tough and that’s exactly what it was,” said player-coach Jamie Tripcony.
“We started really well and played some great rugby. The forwards were exceptional and the backs kept going forward and creating chances.
“But, in hindsight, maybe we should have converted a few more of those opportunities.
“We went in at half-time quite happy with how the game was going.
“We knew going away from home that every team is going to have a 10-minute spell where they get the rub of the green and they had that.
“Fair play to them, they took their opportunities very, very well. They were very clinical.”
Tripcony said Ivybridge have to put the defeat behind them and try and return to winning ways at home this coming Saturday.
“It’s early in the season and we can’t dwell on it,” he said. “We can’t control now what happened on Saturday, so we have to move forward and focus on how we are going to be Bournemouth at home.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT suffered their first home defeat of the season when they were beaten 20-12 by Torquay Athletic at the Rectory.
Services had not been beaten in the league since the opening day of the campaign when they went down 22-19 at Bude.
But last week’s break for the Devon Senior Cup does not appear to have done Devonport any favours.
Saturday’s game got away from Services in the first half as Torquay, who have now won four of their last five matches, stormed into a 15-0 lead.
Devonport did get a try back before half-time courtesy of former Tamar Saracens forward Aaron Webb after good play by back-row colleague Joe Semple.
But a 10-point gap at the break proved too difficult for the home team to recover from against a well-organised Tics side, who defended well all game.
Both teams managed just one try in the second period, with Services’ coming from veteran fly-half Matt Anstis nine minutes from time.
Devonport team manager Kieran Leach said: “We were playing catch-up rugby after about a quarter-of-an-hour and we couldn’t manage to do it. Torquay’s defence was quite good.
“Our attacking play was not like it has been. Everything we tried they nullified.”
The defeat has seen Services drop from second to fifth in the Western Counties West table.
Next Saturday, Devonport face a tricky trip away trip to Sidmouth.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks claimed their first away win of the season with a hard-earned 17-12 victory over Tavistock at Sandy Park.
However, fourth-placed Oaks were mightily relieved to return with four points after spending the entire second half camped in their own half.
Tavistock, though, paid for not turning their territory into points, which Oaks did first half to take a 17-0 lead.
Plymstock coach Tim Mathias said: “Once again we made things hard for ourselves. It’s what we’ve been doing all year.
“The first half we were 17-0 up and played some decent rugby and I could not have been happier really. We played the elements and conditions well.
“But then second half we put ourselves under pressure straight away and never got out of it.
“We should have combatted what they (Tavistock) were doing. We talked about where they were strong and we did not really step up and stop them doing what they were doing, which meant they were able to keep themselves in the game.
“I can’t fault the lads’ effort and their defensive work-rate, but we have to work more sensibly.
“However, Tavistock is a tough place to come and get a result. You only have to look at some of their results. So we’ll take four points.
“It was nice to walk into the dressing room and see that the players were frustrated as they know they have not performed to their best of their ability.
“We still have not played for 80 minutes, but it’s another win and our first away win of the season.”
Oaks started well and were 3-0 up after two minutes with former Tavistock player Richard West kicking a penalty.
They were then 10-0 up eight minutes later with a great try by Mat Nayle-Opie, who slipped two tackles down the wing before running in behind the posts to give West and easy conversion.
Tavistock had chances themselves but their execution let them down and in the 27th minute Oaks scored again when centre Corey Jamieson brilliantly finished off a well-worked move from a line-out. West again converted.
Tavistock were getting on top at the scrums but could not add any points before the interval.
However, they really stepped up a gear second half and just camped in Oaks’ 22.
The visitors, though, defended really well. But, eventually, the pressure did tell with Doug Lloyd going over on the right.
Tavistock, with their scrum a major weapon, kept attacking. They won penalty after penalty but just could not get over the line.
It looked like they had done so but it wasn’t given and they had to make do with another penalty.
Just when it appeared they might not even get a point out of a game where they dominated territory, they managed to get a late try courtesy of captain Andrew Schuttacker forced his way over.
Home coach Hammy Kerswill was frustrated his team did not collect four points but he felt there were plenty of positives for his team.
“At the end it felt like a win,” said Kerswill. “Second half they (Oaks) must have only had 10 per cent possession.
“It just came down to a slow start again for us. We just need to get into games sooner.”
He added: “I felt we counteracted their game-plan pretty well. We kept it quite tight because of their back-line. I’ve played with Westy (Richard West) and he leads their backline well.
“But our scrum was so positive. The only thing that disappointed me was that I counted 16 penalties they conceded at the breakdown and a yellow card or two might have opened it up for us.
“We had seven or eight players missing this week, but it was a real good performance and we are going in the right direction.”
SALTASH continued their good form with a 42-5 victory over struggling Tamar Saracens at Ernesettle.
The victory was the Ashes’ six in a row in all competitions and keeps them third in the Cornwall/Devon League table, hot on the heels of fellow Cornish sides Falmouth and Penryn.
Saracens did well in the opening quarter and restricted Saltash, but eventually the visitors did finally get on the scoresheet when wing Shaun Crawford went over for a try, which Nick Blake converted.
They added a second when number eight Lewis Wells found a gap to cross the whitewash, with Blake again adding the extras.
However, in the final moments of the half, Saracens reduced a gap with a try to go in 14-5 down.
After the interval, though, Saltash, who were two divisions higher than Sarries last season, turned on the style.
Centre Ben Hocking added the visitors’ third before Will Morton sealed the bonus point in the 51st minute with a fourth converted try to make it 28-5.
It got worse for Saracens’ tiring team when Ashes scored again through scrum-half Olly Mulberry, which was converted by Harrison Reburn.
And 10 minutes from time, Saltash, making their first competitive trip to Saracens’ Parkway ground, scored again when hooker Ryan Rayner linked up with Wells to score.
Saracens remain second-from-bottom but they do have a game in hand.
INJURY-hit Plymouth Argaum battled hard at unbeaten league leaders Falmouth but found their hosts too strong and lost 41-13.
It was Argaum’s biggest defeat of the season. Before this weekend they biggest loss was a 17-7 reverse to Saltash.
Falmouth managed six tries which keeps them six points clear at the top of the table with the league’s only 100 per cent record.
Four of Falmouth’s six tries came in the first half, but Argaum were much better after the break and scored two tries of their own through Ali Murray and Greg Thomas.
Argaum are back at home next week against Bodmin before a run of games against sides in the bottom five of the table.
Devonport High School Old Boys booked their place in the second round of the Lockie Cup by beating Devonport Services IIs 20-10 at Stonehouse Creek.
The match saw Devonport Services’ Matt Roberts taken to hospital with a broke sternum.
Meanwhile, OPMs enjoyed a big 76-5 win away at Bodmin IIs in a friendly fixture as they continue their build up for the Devon Two season.