IVYBRIDGE snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at struggling Salisbury on Saturday in National Three South West.
The Bridgers were trailing going into the final few minutes but youngster Mitch Pinkus scored a late try, which his older brother, Billy, converted to secure them a 31-29 victory in Wiltshire.
It didn’t look like it would be Ivybridge’s day as they were 29-14 down with 20 minutes to go but they showed great character to comeback and snatch a vital five points.
Having lost away at Dings Crusaders the previous week, Ivybridge did not want to end 2016 with back-to-back defeats.
The first half in Wiltshire was even, with the teams going in at the break level 14-14, with player-coach Lewis Paterson and Seb Slade scoring tries for Ivybridge, which were both converted by Billy Pinkus.
But Salisbury, who started the day second-from-bottom and without a win since September 17, looked to have taken a grip of the game with two tries and a penalty.
Ivybridge’s only reply initially was a Billy Pinkus penalty.
However, the visitors refused to give up and centre Jordan Anderton gave them a lifeline with a try, which Billy Pinkus, having a fine day with the boot converted.
And his kicking proved decisive when his brother went over for the Bridgers fourth try late in the game.
Ivybridge go into the new year sitting fourth, six points behind the three sides above them – Dings Crusaders, Old Redcliffians and Camborne.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services will head into 2017 as leaders of Western Counties West after digging deep to win 19-14 at St Ives on Saturday.
The young Services side really had to show some steel in Cornwall to claim their 12th victory in 14 league matches.
St Ives had some really good spells of pressure but Services defended well and on the occasions they did give away penalties most were out-wide.
“The five minutes before half-time and the first 15 minutes of the second half we were really under the cosh,” said Services’ team manager Kieran Leach.
“If they were a bit more clinical they could have pulled away.
“It was hard work for us. That was about as tough a game as we’ve had all season. Not many teams will go down there and win.”
Services went 3-0 down after conceding an early penalty at a scrum, which Jordan Gott converted.
But they hit back with a try from two metres out by prop Matt ‘Jan’ Geldard, which Matt Anstis converted.
St Ives kicked another penalty before Services got on top for a 10 minute spell and Toby Knowles put Joe Wyatt in to score his first try for the club. That made it 12-6 to the visitors.
However, on the stroke of half-time, St Ives scored their only try of the game courtesy of Sam Carter to leave them just one point behind at the break.
Saints threw everything at Services after the interval but all they had to show for their efforts was one penalty which put them 14-12 in front.
“I think whoever scored next was always going to win,” said Leach.
And it was Services who scored when they were awarded a penalty try after setting up a great maul. St Ives also had a man sent to the sin-bin.
In the dying minutes St Ives really pressed, but could not find a way through.
“They were knocking on our door, but our defence held out,” said Leach.
Services have now won seven games in a row and they are just hoping they do not lose any momentum over the long Christmas break.
They do have an inter-club ‘exiles’ match on December 27 which they hope will help keep their players tick over until the league resumes on January 7.
FLANKER Callum Thompson kicked an injury-time penalty to secure Tavistock a nail-biting 25-24 win over in-form Lanner at Sandy Park on Saturday.
It did look like the home team, who led for most of the match, might pay for not having a recognised goal-kicker when they went behind in the 79th minute, with Lanner fly-half Nick Prout putting over a penalty to give his side a 24-22 lead.
But the home team did not let their heads go down and went up the other end and pressed. They got a penalty right in front of the posts. Much to the shock of most people watching, they initially attempted to take a quick tap penalty rather than go for goal, but the referee pulled play back and, given a second chance, Tavistock decided to go for goal.
After a bit of debate about who would take the vital kick, Thompson stepped forward and calmly slotted the ball between the uprights to win the match for his side.
It was their third successive victory and although they stay seventh they are level on points with Penryn.
Tavistock did just deserve the win, out-scoring Lanner four tries to three, but they would have made life a lot easier had they kicked all their goals and found touch.
They missed three conversion attempts and one of Lanner’s tries came after Tavistock had failed to find touch with a penalty from their own half.
However, they got the win in the end, much to coach Hammy Kerswill’s delight.
“That’s eight wins out of 14,” said Kerswill. “We said we wanted three wins before Christmas after the Falmouth defeat and we’ve done that.
“But this was tough. We were thinking maybe because they (Lanner) had big boys that they might tire but they picked up a level.
“That was the only negative we had was that perhaps our work-rate was not as good as it could have been. We did lapse off a bit.
“Nearly every game we have won this year has been by the tiniest of margins. Winning close games is something Tavvy haven’t done for a while.”
Tavistock scored two tries in the first 13 minutes to go 10-0 up.
Centre Ben Hadfield scored a great interception try, including beating Lanner’s last man, to open the scoring on six minutes. Lock Danny Oner missed the conversion.
Seven minutes later, and after Lanner had missed a penalty, fellow centre Doug Lloyd scored after a great break and off-load by fly-half Mark Friend, who had an influential first half.
The rest of the first period was quite stop-start until the final few minutes when it really came to life.
On 35 minutes Lanner got themselves back into the game with a try from close range by Bevin Stone.
But Tavistock responded quickly with back-row forward Thompson going over for their third try after pressure following a line-out. Oner converted that to make it 17-7.
However, with the last play of the half, Lanner scored a converted try courtesy of Levi Webster to close the gap at the break to 17-14.
After the interval Lanner went in front for the first time in the 52nd minute when Dave Hewett touched down and Prout converted. That try came after Lanner had taken advantage of Tavistock failure to find touch from a penalty a couple of minutes earlier.
But Tavistock hit straight back with a try by hooker Charlie Charlton, whose ball-carrying ability proved dangerous on the day. That made it 22-21 to Tavvy.
That was how the game stayed until the 79th minute when Prout kicked a penalty after Tavistock were caught offside to make it 24-22.
Two minutes into injury-time, though, Tavistock got a penalty in front of the posts, which Thompson put over to win the game after the home team were initially going to tap it.
“That probably summed up that we need a kicker,” said Kerswill, on the fact that they nearly didn’t go for goal. “They were probably thinking no-one can kick this even though it was right in front of the posts.”
On the debate about who was going to attempt the kick, Kerswill added: “I am kind of glad I put myself on as they were oohing and aahing about who was going to kick it and as Cal was the only one really confident I just said ‘Cal you’re doing it’.”
Plymstock Albion Oaks were relieved Pirates Amateurs missed a late kick at goal at Horsham Field that could have denied them a deserved victory.
Oaks were 24-10 up and looked to be cruising to their first victory in a month, but Pirates came back with a try and a penalty before scoring another try with the last play of the game.
The visitors would have drawn had they added the conversion, but it missed and Oaks ran out 24-22 winners.
It was a vital victory for Oaks who had suffered away defeats at Honiton and Paignton and drawn with Lanner at home in their last three matches.
The win has moved Oaks back up to fourth in the table and their unbeaten home record continues.
“It was 24-10 for most of the game but they (the Pirates) came back into it in the last 15 minutes,” said Oaks coach Tim Mathias.
“We played good rugby, considering the team we had out. This time of year is tricky and a number of lads stepped up from the twos and so it was a real squad performance.
“I was really pleased for the lads as it was difficult last week going to Paignton with the patched squad we had due to injuries and unavailabilities.
“To come back from that and keep our undefeated home record going for the first half of the season is really, really pleasing.”
Mathias added: “We scored some really good tries and played the type of rugby we want to play. It was an enjoyable game to watch if you were a neutral as both sides wanted to play rugby. It was a good advert for the league.”
The Oaks coach felt his team certainly deserved their win, even though the Pirates could have snatch at draw at the death.
“The way we played it would have been a bit unfair to get a draw,” said Mathias. “I never watch those kicks at the end but luckily for us he missed it and we got five points, which were thoroughly deserved.
“It is nice to finish the year with a win and a bonus point. We are only 10 points off the top two with lots of rugby to be played. I’m really pleased with the first half of our season.”
Corey Jamieson scored two of Oaks’ four tries, with Jack Green and Lewis Tremblett also crossing and Richard West kicking two conversions.
Saltash stay third in the division after beating Penryn 28-12 at Moorlands Lane in a match that ended seven minutes early due to a nasty-looking injury to visiting forward Ryan Burley.
Two quick tries by Will Morton early in the second half decided this game in Saltash’s favour and meant they got revenge for their defeat at the Memorial Ground in September.
Penryn started well and took the lead with a try by Cornwall forward George Jones, which Mitch Vague converted.
But Saltash, keen to bounce back from their defeat to Lanner last weekend, gradually settled and Morton scored a try after reacting quickest when Harrison Reburn saw a penalty kick bounce off the post.
The Ashes went in front when James Moriarty ran in from 22 metres out.
And, almost from the restart, Saltash added a third try when Moriarty put full-back Ryan Cruickshanks in to score.
Reburn then added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the home team an 18-7 lead.
Saltash had to defend well in the opening minutes of the second half but then Morton did the damage to the visitors with two quick tries to put his side 28-7 up.
Penryn centre Andrew Seviour reduced the deficit before the game was end early with an ambulance required.
Plymouth Argaum will be glad of the Christmas break to regroup after they crashed 54-5 away at Withycombe.
It was their fourth consecutive defeat and although they stay 10th, Lanner are just one point behind them.
Argaum have been struggling badly with injuries and unavailabilities but they are hoping by the time the league resumes on January 7 they will be much stronger and can re-find their form again.
Withycombe did most of their damage in the first half and led 33-0 at the break.
But Argaum did improve in the second period and managed their first try in four games courtesy of John Bolton, who crossed in the 55th minute.
“In the second half we did come out fighting a bit more,” said Argaum forward Karl Sullivan. “But they (Withycombe) are a very good team.”
As well as hopefully getting some of their injured players back in the new year, Argaum are also expected to announce some new signings over Christmas.
Bottom side Tamar Saracens took a lot of heart from their display against title-chasing Paignton at Ernesettle on Saturday.
Paignton have been inflicting heavy defeats on lots of teams recently, including Oaks and Argaum, but Tamar Saracens made them work really hard for a 23-3 win.
At one point Sarries were thinking they might even get a losing bonus point out of the game before the visitors got on top second half.
The first half was quite even and looked like it was going to end 6-3 with Tom Rigby kicking a penalty for Saracens, who had other chances to added to their tally. But Paignton scored a converted try right on half-time to take a 13-3 lead at the break.
Another try and a penalty after the interval sealed the win for the visitors. The loss leaves Sarries 13 points adrift at the bottom with Topsham surprising beating Bodmin away.
Tamar Saracens president Huw Davies said: “Paignton were clearly the better team, but our lads put in a really good effort. They are not as bad as the league suggests.
“It looked like we might hang out for a losing bonus point at one stage. The lads played with so much effort and if one thing or another had gone our way we could have got a point.”
OPMs made it six wins out of six in Devon Two with an impressive 25-10 home win over Buckfastleigh.
The Ramblers’ only defeat before Saturday was a one-point away loss at leaders Dartmouth, but they found OPMs’ forwards difficult to handle at Elburton.
The first half was quite even but OPMs went in at the break 7-0 up thanks to a counterattack try by Matt Thompson from his own 22, which Gavin Rae converted.
OPMs had to defend hard for the first 15 minutes of the second half and eventually Buckfastleigh did score with a breakaway try, which frustrated the hosts.
“We are disappointed to concede a try at home, very disappointed, as it is a bug bear for us,” admitted OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
But the Ramblers’ try seemed to spur on OPMs, who changed their game and began to use their forwards much more.
Back-rower Matt Naylor managed to force his way over the try line twice from close range to give the home team the cushion they needed. Rae converted one and kicked two penalties.
“We are unbeaten in the league at the end of the year, so we are massively happy with that,” added Matthews. “We also have a good points difference.
“We are now really looking forward to playing Dartmouth straight after new year.
“To be fair to Buckfastleigh, they have got a very good young side. They have got some good, hard players and play some decent rugby as well.”
Old Techs kept the pressure on OPMs and fellow unbeaten side Dartmouth with a 15-6 home win over Salcombe.
The victory over their tricky south Devon opponents keeps them in third spot, nine points behind leaders Dartmouth and seven behind OPMs.
Old Techs, though, know the top two still have to play each other and they want to be there ready to take advantage.
They were a bit frustrated they did not pick up a bonus point after going 15-3 up in the first half on Saturday, but they were missing a number of players and they knew Salcombe were a potential banana skin.
“We won, but we really should have taken all five points,” said Techs’ chairman David Evans.
“But, equally, it was a game where we could have come unstuck, but we didn’t.
“We had players missing. Our back-row was lighter than normal. We had to have a prop at blindside.
“But we won and we just have to keeping winning and keep the pressure on the two in front of us.”
After going behind to an early Salcombe penalty, Techs hit back with tries by Ben Lynch and Matt Simmonds, with Paul Ansell converting the first and also adding a penalty.
Prop Dan Rogers was Techs’ man of the match.
St Columba & Torpoint claimed their first win since the 2014/15 season when they narrowly beat Plympton Victoria 18-13 in a basement battle.
Plym Vic had won the David Butt Cup meeting between the sides but, not for the first time this season, the Marsh Mills-based paid the price for unavailabilities.
“It’s the same old problem,” said coach Howell Phillips. “We could have won if we had the same boys who played against Dartmouth last week.
“It was a winnable game for us.”
Plym Vic also paid for lack of discipline, with all Saints’ points coming from penalty kicks.
Victoria did score the game’s only try courtesy of Gareth McLeggan. They also added a penalty and drop-goal, but it was only enough for a losing bonus point.
DHSOB battled hard but could not prevent leaders Dartmouth claiming a sixth successive win.
Dartmouth won 27-15 at Stonehouse Creek in what was a tricky trip for them, given DHSOB’s unpredictability.
DHSOB are proving competitive and have picked up five bonus points in six games, but they just can’t seem to get the wins. However, they will feel they have a number of winnable matches in January that could lift them up the table.