THE looks on the Ivybridge players’ faces as they walked off the Cross-in-Hand field on Saturday said everything you needed to know about their shock 23-16 home defeat to struggling Launceston.
High-flying Ivybridge had appeared on course for an 11th win of the season when they went 13-0 up after just 18 minutes.
Relegation-threatened Launceston, without an away victory since the 2014/15 season, had not even had one half chance at that moment in time and most of the large crowd were probably wondering how many more points Ivybridge might score.
But it proved to be only three as the hosts lost their way totally and Launceston pulled off an incredible win, which will give them hope of staying in National Three South West.
Although Ivybridge only had themselves to blame for the defeat, failing to take their chances and gifting the visitors their only try, Launceston deserved so much credit for their work-rate, desire and will to win in damp conditions.
Launceston really defended well, especially when they were down to 14 man and in the dying minutes when Ivybridge had three line-outs close to the line, and they really used their physicality to disrupt the Bridgers.
The visitors might not have created hardly any try-scoring chances, but in fly-half Fraser Honey they had a match-winner. He kicked his side to victory with an impressive performance with the boot. He put over five long-range penalties and a drop-goal to claim his side four valuable points.
But fourth-placed Ivybridge, though, will be kicking themselves for giving those penalties away and for failing to perform anywhere close to their best, which accounted for the angry and frustrated looks as they walked off the pitch. With second-placed Old Redcliffians and third-placed Camborne losing, Ivybridge could have really put themselves in a great position at the top of the table.
Afterwards player-coach Jamie Tripcony, a former Launceston player, said: “Of course we are absolutely gutted, but we can’t dwell on it too long.
“Any loss is frustrating and as a team after every defeat you have to re-group and get back together.”
He added: “We had a lot of momentum before the (Christmas) break and we wanted to keep that going, but during the week we talked about never underestimating a Launceston side.
“Take nothing away from them, they deserved the win. I thought they played the conditions very well. Full credit to them.
“We chucked the kitchen sink at them and it was frustrating. I think we got frustrated within ourselves, which is very unlike this team as we have great morale.
“Like I said, the boys are absolutely gutted, but I have never been in a team like this Ivybridge team. Training on Tuesday will, hopefully, be quite lively as we want a huge bounce back. We have to get ready for Camborne now.”
Billy Pinkus gave Ivybridge the lead with a penalty in the fifth minute and six minutes later the home team made it 10-0 with player-coach Lewis Paterson, another ex-Launceston man, scoring a try on the left after good pressure.
Pinkus converted that try and also kicked a penalty on 18 minutes.
However, rather than build on that, Ivybridge then made two costly mistakes in a matter of minutes.
They gave away a penalty almost on the halfway line and Honey kicked to get Launceston’s first points on the board.
And from the restart, Ivybridge kicked straight out and the visitors scored from the resultant scrum on halfway. From the set piece Launceston went right and a number of Ivybridge players seemed to just watch powerful right winger Sam Snell run in from 50 metres for a fine individual try.
Honey missed the touchline conversion – his only failure of the day – but he kicked a monster penalty on 31 minutes to close the gap to two points.
Ivybridge had a chance to score a second try in the dying minutes of the half. They camped on the line but could not get over, although they got a penalty which Pinkus kicked to make the half-time score 16-11.
The second half, though, belonged to Launceston, who grew in confidence as the game went on.
Honey kicked a penalty on 47 minutes before adding a drop-goal nine minutes later and another penalty on 60 minutes to put his side 20-16 up.
Ivybridge then had a number of penalties themselves. They kept going for the corner but could not drive over, even when the visitors were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Honey gave Launceston breathing space on 73 minutes with yet another penalty before Ivybridge threw everything as their visitors looking for at least a draw. But whatever the Bridgers tried it just did not come off.
They now have to try and pick themselves up for a trip to Camborne, who themselves will be keen to prove a point after crashing 45-6 at Hornets on Saturday.
More pictures of this match available below.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
WESTERN Counties West leaders Devonport Services continued where they left off before Christmas with a 29-10 home win over Crediton.
Their bonus point victory means they will go into next week’s top-of-the-table clash with second-placed Cullompton four points ahead of their Devon rivals.
Services did have to weather some early pressure from Crediton on Saturday.
The visitors, who beat Devonport in Devon Cup, spent the first 15 minutes on the attack but could not find their way over the whitewash.
And the home team made Crediton pay for their lack of a cutting edge by going up the other end and scoring when Toby Knowles pounced on a chip kick by Joe Wyatt.
Devonport then went 12-0 up when Joe Semple demonstrated that you should always play to the whistle by scoring after initially appearing to have been held up short. Matt Anstis converted.
Crediton kicked a penalty but Services went in at the break 19-3 up when they were awarded a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on after good play by Wyatt, Jack Martin and Tyler Busfield.
The all-important fourth try came for Services on 49 minutes when a good scrum move involving number eight Matt Gregory and scrum-half Brandon Andrews resulted in winger Luke Stannard scoring.
Services took their foot of the gas after that for a while and Crediton had a good spell of possession which eventually resulted in a converted try after Adrian Montague had been sin-binned.
Montague, though, made up for that when he returned by scoring Services’ fifth try.
“I know they (Crediton) have not won away but we had a tough game up at their place at the start of the season and they beat us in the cup, so it was a good five points,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach.
“I think if it had been a dry day then we would have scored a few more tries.”
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks coach Tim Mathias was thrilled his team managed to claim a league double over city rivals Plymouth Argaum.
Fourth-placed Oaks triumphed 18-0 at a dark and damp Bickleigh Down.
It was the first time in five league meetings between the sides that more than one score had separated them.
And it was again close until the dying minutes on Saturday.
Oaks led 3-0 at half-time with a Richard West penalty accounting for their only points.
West kicked another penalty after the interval to make it 6-0, which was how the match stayed until the last 15 minutes when Oaks scored two tries courtesy of the prolific Mat Neyle-Opie and Jack Green.
“It’s the first time we have done the double over them in a few years,” said Mathias.
“It’s a nice way to step into 2017. We are still where we want to be.
“We’ve got a couple of tough fixtures away at Withycombe and at home to Saltash coming up and I think at the end of January we’ll really see what we are about as a team.”
He added: “Both sides were pretty rusty after the Christmas break and we probably kicked a little bit too much, but it is always tempting there to roll it into the corner there when you are playing down that slope.
“When we did build phases we looked dangerous and that is what we did in the last 15 minutes when we scored two tries.
“I think if we could have played five more minutes we might have sneaked a bonus point.
“But to be honest I would have taken an 18-0 win against Argaum before the start of the day. I was really pleased.
“The defensive work-rate from the lads was phenomenal. We were a bit rusty in attack, but defensively we worked really hard. We made our first-up tackles and Argaum didn’t really break our line. We frustrated them.
“We competed well at the breakdown and line-out and when the backs got the ball in space they looked sharp, so I was really pleased.”
Argaum, whose pack worked well as a unit and did well at the scrums, have not won since November 19 and now find themselves just seven points above the relegation zone with Honiton surprisingly hammering Bodmin 56-0.
Oaks have closed the gap on third-placed Saltash, who slipped to a 17-12 defeat at the Pirates Amateurs on Saturday in a match that was held up for nearly an hour due to an injury to home player Jamie Barrett.
Dan McGee gave the Pirates the lead on nine minutes before the unexpected delay.
The Pirates doubled their lead through Ashley Weston, but then Saltash hit back with a converted try by Adam Coutts.
Midway through the second half, the home team went 17-7 up when wing Jack Nicholas crossed for a converted touch-down.
Saltash, though, refused to be beaten and a try by Phil Eatwell on 68 minutes gave them hope of collecting another four points.
But they were unable to find a winning score and slipped to their fifth defeat of the season.
Tavistock may have picked up a losing bonus point in a narrow 9-5 defeat at second-placed Paignton, but coach Hammy Kerswill felt his team should have returned with the four points.
The Sandy Park club came so close to become only the second team this season – and first since September – to beat Paignton.
They did score the game’s only try, courtesy of prop Josh O’Neil, but three penalties secured Paignton the win.
“I can most definitely say it was the worst preparation for a game this season,” said Kerswill. “We had a number of late drop-outs in the firsts and seconds as well as a lot of the boys having a farming party the night before.
“But that said, it ended up being a near complete performance.
“Possession and territory was even throughout the game. We dominated both scrum and line-out and they kicked territory very well.”
O’Neil opened the scoring after a good drive from a line-out. However, the visitors had Sam Smerdon sin-binned under the new tackling laws and Paignton took advantage to go in at the break 6-5 up.
Another penalty put the hosts 9-5 up in the second half and Tavistock had player-coach Kerswill yellow carded on 60 minutes. But they did well with 14 men and had their chances to win the game late on.
“In the final two minutes we won a penalty and kicked into the corner only to have our set maul dragged down and no sanction given,” said Kerswill.
“We feel very hard done by, but considering the circumstances leading up to the match it was a fine performance.”
Tavistock handed a debut to Chris Stables at scrum-half and he impressed alongside Andrew Sheridan at fly-half, who had a big game.
Tavvy, who host Penryn next weekend, stay in seventh place.
Penryn showed their strength by beating bottom side Tamar Saracens 80-0 at home on Saturday.
The Cornish club have only lost once at home this season and Saracens just had no answer to their pace and power.
The home side ran in 12 tries, with more coming in the second half as Saracens tired.
It was Tamar Saracens’ biggest defeat of the season and leaves them 24 points off safety.
RUGBY World’s team of the month award proved to be a curse for OPMs, who suffered their first league defeat of the season on Saturday when they lost 20-10 to title-rivals Dartmouth.
The match was level at half-time at 10-10, with OPMs having taken the lead with a Matt Thompson try from a chip-and-chase, but Dartmouth sealed the victory in the second period.
Dartmouth’s victory has given them six-point cushion over the Old Boys at the top of Devon Two.
“We are very disappointed, but they played well,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
“We knocked on the door for the last 10 minutes but we were just too tired to get anything.
“They probably had 70 per cent possession.
“Our line-out was really ineffective. We didn’t win any ball off our line-out and they capitalised on that. They were quite strong with their driving maul.
“We defended quite well but just did not quite click in the important parts.
“We are disappointed but we’ll move forward.”
OPMs were not helped by losing goalkicker Gavin Rae with an injury on 50 minutes. He had kicked a penalty and a conversion for them in the first half.
Third-placed Old Techs have closed to within three points of OPMs after they claimed an impressive 23-9 away victory at fourth-placed Buckfastleigh.
Techs had gone into the game knowing they were under pressure to win having already lost to Dartmouth and OPMs, but responded in the right away, despite losing key player Billy Evans after just three minutes with injury.
However, despite playing less than 180 seconds, Evans still had time to put Old Techs in the lead.
He went over for a try within the first minute after the visitors got a line-out from the kick-off.
Paul Ansell converted Evans’ touch-down and he and Buckfastleigh’s kicker traded penalties to leave the half-time score at 13-9 to Techs’ favour.
After the interval, Techs put their forward power to good use with two close range tries courtesy of Anthony Luxton and Neil Herbert.
“It was important that we won the game,” said Old Techs chairman David Evans.
“And it was a good win. We are pleased.
“It was another potential banana skin but we played really well.
“It was a shame we didn’t get the bonus point as well, but we were just pleased to get the win, as we lost away to them last year.”
Next weekend, Techs are due to host DHSOB, while OPMs travel to Plympton Victoria.
DHSOB pulled out of their match with Plym Vic on Saturday, but they will be hoping to get a side out to play Old Techs.
Meanwhile, St Columba & Torpoint lost 54-0 away at Salcombe.