BILLY PINKUS scored 19 points as Ivybridge claimed a 29-20 win over Devon rivals Brixham at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in National Three South West.
The young winger scored two long-range turnover tries either side of half-time, while also adding nine points with the boot, including an important second half penalty.
Ivybridge won this game in a mad 15 minute-spell before half-time where they scored three tries, including penalty try and a length-of-the-field interception with the last play of the half.
Their 21-3 half-time advantage did not really reflect how tough the match was, but they made sure they capitalised on all Brixham’s mistakes.
And it got better for the home team straight after the break with winger Pinkus adding a second breakaway score.
But Ivybridge then spent a lot of the second half defending, yet, crucially, they never let Brixham, who were without former Albion and Bristol fly-half Ed Barnes, get within one score.
Ivybridge, who have only been beaten by the top two – Camborne and Old Redcliffians – this season, stay fourth in the table, but they are now only one point off second and five off top.
“It was a battle of two halves,” said Ivybridge coach Lewis Paterson.
“We started fantastic and played some great rugby. We also played some good rugby second half, but we particularly defended really well.
“There were a lot more opportunities where they (Brixham) could have got under our posts and scored a lot more points.
“They (Brixham) are a very good side and they will get results go their way.”
Ivybridge have now claimed three back-to-back bonus point wins.
“We have never had this type of form in November,” said Paterson. “It is massive that we have got three five point wins at this point in the season. It just shows how much we are coming on and maturing week-by-week and how much depth we have.”
Only Camborne have beaten Ivybridge at home this season and that was after the South Hams side went 24-0 down after 20 minutes.
“We said this game (against Brixham) would be the most similar side to Camborne in terms of them having a really good pack and we knew we could not let them come at us,” said Paterson.
“We knew they were going to come very big in the first 20 minutes. Against Camborne we conceded points at the start and if Brixham had got their points when they were on our try line you never know they might have rumbled on.
“But we held them out, which is what we should have done against Camborne, and it paid off.”
Billy Pinkus’ two turnover tries from Brixham attacks proved decisive.
“Billy had a great game and he is very good with the boot,” said Paterson. “Billy’s second try was a great charge down by Seb Slade. When Seb comes on he brings a different level of energy.
“Our pack really utilised what we had very, very well and our backs played good, smart rugby, but Brixham really gave us a run in the second half.”
Billy Pinkus did miss a penalty in the opening three minutes before Brixham went close after going for the corner from a penalty.
Paterson nearly made the breakthrough on 15 minutes with a good run but Ivybridge, whose crowd really got behind them, could not finish it off.
However, they did take the lead in the 27th minute when young fly-half Mitch Pinkus fired a penalty on the halfway line straight into the corner and from the five-metre line-out Ivybridge were awarded a penalty try. The referee did not give Brixham any warning – he simply ran behind the sticks and gave the try for the first offence, much to Ivybridge’s delight.
Brixham, who were also reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes, were frustrated with that and it got worse for them five minutes later with a strange try.
Toby Evans made a great break, avoiding a number of tackles, and got to the 22 metre line. However, the ball came out of the ruck and Brixham had the chance to clear but kicked the ball sideways and straight into the path of Paterson, who picked up and then kicked forward, with Jordan Anderton winning the race to ground it ahead of two Brixham players. Pinkus brilliantly converted.
Ben Lovell reduced the gap with a penalty on 34 minutes and that gave Brixham some confidence, but as they went looking for a try, Billy Pinkus intercepted the ball in his own 22 and ran the length of the field to score and convert on the stroke half-time.
If that was not enough of a kick in the teeth for Brixham, then worse was to follow straight after the break when Slade, whose older brother Henry was at Twickenham winning his third England cap, charged down a chip kick as the visitors attacked and the ball fell perfectly for Billy Pinkus to pick up and run from his own half for a second try.
The game looked in the bag then, but, fair play to Brixham, they made a game of it. Thomas scored from a maul in the 45th minute, which Ben Lovell converted.
Ben Lovell then kicked a penalty to bring his side, who had former Albion forward Davy McGregor at hooker, within two scores.
However, nine minutes later Brixham were penalised at a scrum and Billy Pinkus went for goal and kicked a decisive penalty to put his side 29-13 up.
The visitors closed the gap with a well-worked try in the dying minutes, but it was too little too late for Brixham, whose individual mistakes cost them greatly at Cross-in-Hand.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services have moved up to second in Western Counties West after a hard-earned 7-6 away win at Tiverton.
All the points in the game were scored in the first half, with conditions making a high-scoring affair unlikely.
Ben McGowan scored the only try of the match, which came after Tiverton had gone 3-0 up with an early Callum Stone penalty.
McGowan’s try came after good work by Alex Lambert, who was playing his last game for Services before moving to Bristol.
Matt Anstis, who used his boot well in difficult conditions, added the conversion to give the visitors a 7-3 lead.
However, that was cut to just one before the break with another penalty by the home side.
Services camped on Tiverton’s half for a good 10 minutes second half but could not add to their tally.
Both teams have a man sin-binned, with Adrian Montague picking up a yellow for Services.
However, neither side could score with a player advantage, with Tiverton also losing player-coach Wayne Sprangle with an arm injury.
“It was a tight game,” said Services’ team manager Kieran Leach. “The conditions were awful. It was very muddy and it rained all game.
“We’d attack for 10 minutes then have to defend for 10, but we got the win.
“I don’t think we have won there since they got promoted back into the league, so it was awesome to win there. It was a happy coach home.”
Services are just points behind leaders Truro, who narrowly beat Crediton 13-12. Exeter University, who had started the day second, were surprisingly beaten 22-7 at St Austell, while Cullompton, who were third going into the weekend, lost 31-8 at struggling Burnham-on-Sea.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks claimed the biggest win of the weekend in the Cornwall/Devon League with a 52-7 home victory over Topsham.
The triumph has moved Oaks, who are unbeaten at home, up to fourth in the table, ahead of Penryn, who dropped from second to fifth after losing at home to Paignton, who are now third behind Saltash.
Oaks made a great start to the game, going 21-0 up after 20 minutes and they never really let up.
They led 28-7 at the break and then added 24 points after the interval.
Oaks scored eight tries in total, with Ben Duggan and Mat Neyle-Opie both scoring two apiece.
Their other touch-downs came from Chad Brading, Dom Sumner, Corey Jaimeson and a penalty try.
Oaks may have claimed eight wins out of 10 and beaten Falmouth and Penryn along the way, but Saturday was the first time they had claimed a try-scoring bonus point, which delighted coach Tim Mathias.
“We got 21-0 up after about 20 minutes and we never really took our foot of the gas,” said Mathias. “We just kept going.
“We played some really good rugby. It was the first time this season it has clicked for nearly 80 minutes. I was really, really pleased for the lads.
“This result came from two really good training sessions with good numbers during the week.
“We were strong last year at home as well, but that was our first try-scoring bonus point this season. It’s not that we have not created opportunities to do it in the past this season but we just executed a lot better this week.
“Lots of things we worked on during the week came off. It is nice for the lads to see that if they put the hard work in then they will get the result on a Saturday. I’m just pleased for them.”
On Topsham, Mathias added: “When you look at their results they have been in most games. They ran Argaum close a few weeks ago. They are well drilled, but are maybe just lacking a bit of leadership. We knew they were going to be a difficult prospect, but we got the start we wanted.”
With Falmouth’s game at Tamar Saracens postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Saltash have closed the gap on them to just two points with a 23-7 home win over Bodmin.
All Saltash’s tries came in the first 42 minutes after which point running rugby became difficult.
The home team took an early lead with a Harrison Reburn penalty before skipper Ryan Rayner scored their first try.
Bodmin closed the gap to one point with a converted try by centre Josh Taylor.
However, almost from the restart flanker Phil Eatwell went over for Saltash’s second try.
Winger Shaun Crawford scored a third before half-time and then added another almost straight after the interval to seal the win.
Plymouth Argaum have moved up to eighth in the table with a 31-12 home victory over struggling Honiton.
Argaum, who have now won three games in a row, got four tries in the first half to lead 24-12.
Scrum-half Ellery Jones, playing his final game before moving away, scored their first on 20 minutes.
Three minutes later Jamie Burton finished off a great backs move by going over in the corner, with Ali Murray converting.
Honiton did respond on the half-hour mark with a converted try but Karl Sullivan added a third before Jake Turfrey crossed for their fourth just before the break after Honiton had closed to within five points.
After the interval, Argaum had three players sin-binned and had to play for eight minutes with 12 men. However, they did not concede any points during that time.
When they returned to 15 men, Honiton then had a player yellow carded. Ten minutes from time Argaum got a fifth try when Burton crossed again.
It was a good day for the Plymouth Combination teams in the Cornwall/Devon League as Tavistock also won. They beat Withycombe 12-7 at Sandy Park to leapfrog above their visitors in the table.
Tavistock took particularly pleasure in their victory, having suffered two big defeats at the hands of Withycombe last season.
They also did it the hard way after going 7-0 down after 15 minutes.
Man-of-the-match Ben Hadfield got them back into the game with a converted try before half-time after great work by winger Jamie Turpin, who has really made his mark this season, and Doug Lloyd.
Withycombe picked up a red card early in the second half and also picked up three yellow cards, which meant they played for a large spell of the final 40 minutes with 13 men.
With the visitors short up front, Tavistock brought on giant forward Joe Hair and he helped turn over a scrum which resulted in Mark Friend, playing at fly-half, going over in the corner.
“I think they got into our 22 once after that,” said coach Hammy Kerswill. “It felt comfortable but it was still nervy throughout as it always looked like they could breakthrough.
“But our discipline was fantastic, which was a massive positive.”
He added: “It was a good performance. It is the first time we have come from behind to win this year.
“Considering the conditions were horrible, it was the best off-loading and handling we’ve produced all season.
“I know they (Withycombe) have lost some players this year, but they really piled the points on us last season, so it is a good turnaround and creates a positive vibe.”
OPMs remain unbeaten in Devon Two but they were pushed to the wire by city rivals Old Techs at Weston Mill.
A Gavin Rae charge-down try turned out to be the difference between the sides with OPMs winning 10-6 in a match that could have gone either way.
“It was an ugly win,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
“Conditions didn’t help, but we just wanted to go there and get the win – that was the important thing for us.
“And we did come out on top, which we are happy with.
“We knew they were going to be good and physical, which they were, but we held it together and managed to get that win.”
He added: “They had a really good 10 minutes of pressure in the last 10 of the first half, but we held out and they played down hill second half and they used the boot well.
“From our side of thing we felt pretty solid in defence.
“We knew we would have to dig out a win and we did.”
As well as his try and conversion, Rae also kicked a penalty.
Techs’ points came from two Billy Evans penalties but the home side felt they should have taken more from the game.
“It was a close game, which could have gone either way,” said chairman David Evans. “But we feel we should have won it.”
Techs felt they did not get the rub of the green on the day. They have now lost to both promotion rivals Dartmouth and OPMs, but they are remaining positive.
“Dartmouth beat us fair and square, but this game we could have won,” said Evans. “It is a long season and our destiny is still in our hands as we have to play these teams again. I don’t think there is anyone in this league unbeatable.”
Techs, who have been struggling with player availability in the recent weeks, are set to be boosted by the return of James Douglas, who is coming back from Australia and should be available in a couple of weeks.
DHSOB, who had been beaten by OPMs and Old Techs in their opening two league matches, claimed their first win of the campaign with a 41-10 victory away at St Columba & Torpoint.
The Old Boys may have been missing three of their star Fijians but they were too strong for a young rebuilding Saints side.
Full-back Atunaisa Kovula and the versatile Lopeti Faha both scored two tries, with Shawn Mucunabuitu, Leone Boila and Mikaele Waqa also touching down. Mike Walkden (2) and Mucunabuitu kicked the conversions.
St Columba and Plympton Victoria are not the only teams yet to win in the league this season.
Plym Vic, though, did put up a much better showing at home to unbeaten Buckfastleigh.
Buckfastleigh, who have claimed three wins out of three, ended up winning 24-6 at Marsh Mills.