Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge look to keep record going against Newton Abbot

img_5418 Ben Watts Ivybridge v Launceston

IVYBRIDGE will be looking to continue their good record against Devon rivals Newton Abbot on Saturday when they travel to Rackerhayes in National Three South West.

Since their promotion to level five in 2015, Ivybridge have not lost to the Devon All Whites.

They narrowly beat them twice last season and triumphed 28-23 at Cross-in-Hand this term.

The teams sit third and fifth in the table, but they go into Saturday’s match on the back on contrasting results.

Ivybridge returned to winning ways last weekend by beating Bromsgrove 28-21 but Newton Abbot, who had been in good form, suffered a shock 73-14 hammering at mid-table Hornets.

“Newton Abbot are going to be very hungry after that result,” said Ivybride player-coach Lewis Paterson.

“I think they took up quite a reasonably strong side as well to the Hornets, so they will be hurting from that.

“They are going to carry that into this week and we have to capitalise on that

“They haven’t beaten us in National Three. We have to go into the game with loads of confidence.

“We are currently the top Devon side in the league and we have to live up to that.

Lewis Paterson try Ivybridge v Salisbury“We have got ourselves into a fantastic position through consistency and, hopefully, we can perform again this Saturday. We have to make sure that consistency continues.”

He added: “We did the double over them last year and we beat them at home this year thanks to a good last 10 minutes.

“We know what kind of side they are. It is a Devon derby – the first one of the year – and everyone is absolutely gunning for it.

“There is going to be that extra 10 per cent going into the game, in terms of boys getting psyched up, as it is a derby.

“We got a good result last week and we are just looking to maintain our performance at Newton.”

Paterson feels the pressure is on Newton Abbot this weekend after what happened to them last Saturday and because they are the home team.

Ivybridge are set to welcome back scrum-half Ben Watts (pictured top) and lock James Sloan to their starting line-up, while Damon Akerman is fit after missing last week’s league game due to a head injury and is expected to be among the replacements.

However, Ivybridge are without prop Nathan Reeves. He is facing at least four weeks out after breaking a bone in his foot last weekend against Bromsgrove.

“He made a break last Saturday, got tackled and fell awkwardly,” said Paterson. “He doesn’t need an operation or anything and his ligaments are fine. Hopefully, it will be a speedy recovery for him.”

WESTERN COUNTIES WEST

HOME COMFORTS: Services entertain Exeter University in a top-of-the-table clash at the Rectory on Saturday

HOME COMFORTS: Services entertain Exeter University in a top-of-the-table clash at the Rectory on Saturday

DEVONPORT Services will be hoping for a big crowd for their top-of-the-table clash with Exeter University at the Rectory on Saturday.

The teams sit first and second in Western Counties West, both with 63 points, which is five ahead of third-placed Cullompton.

“We’re really looking forward to this game,” said Services coach Mike Lewis. “I think it has been in the back of our minds for a couple of weeks.

“But we don’t want to make too much of it in terms of what it might mean for the season, as there is plenty of games to be won and lost afterwards.”

Saturday will be Services’ second home match in seven days, having overcome Wellington 33-15 at the Rectory last weekend.

“It’s nice to be at home again,” said Lewis. “We had plenty of away games at the start of the season.

“Hopefully, we will get a good crowd for this game.

“We’ve got plenty of boys who have put their hands up for selection. We have got plenty of options, which gives us a bit of a headache, but it’s a nice headache to have.”

Services beat Exeter University 35-20 away in October, but the students have only lost twice since then and last weekend beat fellow promotion hopefuls Cullompton 29-20.

“We did beat them up there,” said Lewis. “It was not the most exciting or entertaining of games. We both butted heads really and it was a bit of a dog-fight. I think we just had a few wiser heads on the field.

“We are unsure what team we will come up against, but we can only focus on what we can do.”

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

Plymouth Argaum v Tavistock Mark FriendIT IS another big derby weekend for Plymouth Combination teams in the Cornwall/Devon League.

Saturday’s fixtures sees Tamar Saracens entertain Plymstock Albion Oaks, while Tavistock host their closest rivals Plymouth Argaum at Sandy Park.

Plymstock Albion Oaks might sit sixth in the table, but they are not expecting an easy game at bottom side Tamar Saracens.

Sarries might not have won since the first day of the season but they could not have come closer in recent weeks, narrowly losing 10-7 at home to Pirates Amateurs and 19-12 away at Argaum last weekend.

“We have got Oaks at home and we have to go into the game believing we can do it (get the win),” said player and spokesman Marc Cioffi.

We’ve just got to keep our structures and keep believing. We are getting better and better each week.

I’d say to any team ‘don’t write us off as we’ll be fighting for everything’.”

Oaks coach Tim Mathias is certainly expecting Saracens to be up for the fight against his side.

“I know they pushed the Pirates really close in their last home game,” said Mathias, who has not been to Ernesettle since his student days.

“I think the last time I was on that pitch was when I had a trial at university in 1999, which is a long time ago. I’m not sure if the pitch will have got any better.

“But I’d like to think we have got enough in our game to adapt to any conditions.”

Oaks have lost their last two matches and Mathias wants his team to put that right.

He admits part of Plymstock’s problems over the past couple of months, which has seen them drop down from fourth to sixth, has been getting players to train together regularly.

“I’ve said to the lads ‘if you come to training we will be a better team on a Saturday’,” admitted Mathias.

“It is frustrating as they have all got potential to play better than they are. That shows in our results – when we train, we do well.”

Meanwhile, both Tavistock and Plymouth Argaum are desperate to win their derby meeting at Sandy Park.

Eighth-placed Tavistock are still looking for their first victory of 2017 after away defeats to Paignton and Pirates Amateurs and a home loss to Penryn.

Tenth-placed Argaum ended a six-match losing run last Saturday by narrowly beating Tamar Saracens 19-12, but they want to prove that was not just a one-off.

“We are expecting it be a very tough game,” said Argaum secretary and spokesman Stuart Quarterman. “Tavistock have been good at home this season.

“And I think there is just as much pressure on us this week as last.

“Tamar Saracens did play really well last week and didn’t play like a bottom of a league team, but we have to show we can beat other teams.”

Argaum did beat Tavistock 26-5 at Bickleigh Down at the start of October, but Tavvy have become a tough team to overcome since then.

Argaum, 10 points off the relegation zone, are able to welcome back John Fulton for this weekend’s game.

Tavistock have new scrum-half Chris Stables available again and he takes over the number nine shirt, with Matt Witcher moving to fly-half.

Sam Smerdon also returns on the wing after missing last week’s trip to Penzance, while Kyle Maslen is back at hooker and Tavistock are able to field James Bruna alongside Seth Waterworth in the second-row.

Coach Hammy Kerswill said: “We are in high spirits this week. We’ve had some productive training sessions and a good attitude from the squad, despite recent performances.”

He added: “Argaum were convincing against us away but we were understrength and particularly poor at set piece. We are confident of making amends, but we need to relax and just enjoy our rugby in order to do so.”

Before the match there will be a minute’s silence for Tavistock president Jeff Lawson, who sadly died last week. His funeral will be held at Tavistock Parish Church on January 31 at 2pm. A wake will be held in the rugby club later that day.

Tavistock’s second team will travel to Bickleigh Down to play Argaum’s seconds.

Second-placed Saltash face a tricky away trip to fourth-placed Withycombe this weekend.

The Ashes have scored 115 in their last two matches against Oaks and Argaum, but Withycombe are on a five-game winning run and have scored 82 points themselves in their last two outings against Honiton and Oaks.

DEVON TWO

img_4122 OPMs v St Columba & TorpointDERBY matches are also once again on the cards in Devon Two this weekend, with second-placed OPMs traveling to St Columba & Torpoint and third-placed Old Techs making the short trip to Marsh Mills to face Plympton Victoria.

Both promotion-chasing OPMs and Old Techs will be odds on favourites to win, but neither team is taking anything for granted and know that every point counts from now on after last week’s 17-17 draw between them.

OPMs sit just three points ahead of Old Techs with five matches to go. Only two teams go up from the division.

OPMs’ run in is St Columba away, Salcombe at home, Buckfastleigh away, Dartmouth at home and DHSOB away.

Techs’ final five matches are Plympton Victoria away, St Columba at home, Salcombe away, Buckfastleigh at home and Dartmouth away.

“We have got quite a tough run in,” admitted OPMs captain Henry Matthews. “We have got Buckfastleigh away and on the last day DHSOB, who I think are going to start to build a team, while Salcombe are not going to be any slouches. It’s not an easy run in.”

On paper, this weekend’s match should be the easiest of their remaining games, with Saints struggling in the table. Their only win this season was a narrow home victory over Plym Vic. But OPMs will not take them lightly.

“We just have to beat them,” said Matthews. “Anyone who puts on a shirt on a Saturday afternoon deserves respect and you have to play your best against them.”

That is also the sentiment from Old Techs, who travel to winless Plympton Victoria.

“We just have to keep winning every game, just like them (OPMs),” said Old Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.

“They (OPMs) have to play Dartmouth at home and we have to play Dartmouth up there. They have to go to Buckfastleigh, which is not an easy place to go, so we will keep going.”

Techs were disappointed to draw with OPMs last weekend but Bedford-Smith admits it has still kept their season alive.

Meanwhile, DHSOB travel to Salcombe on Saturday hoping to build on their 48-10 win over St Columba last weekend.

The Old Boys are hoping to have a few more Fijian players available than in recent weeks, but they are set to be missing Shawn Mucunabitu, who made such an impact coming on last Saturday against St Columba.

South West rugby fixtures can be found HERE.

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