‘HEARTBREAKING’, ‘painful’ and ‘gutting’ were just some of the words used at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday to describe Ivybridge’s 25-24 home defeat to National Three South West leaders Old Redcliffians.
Third-placed Ivybridge led the match from the 13th minute until the third minute of injury-time when visiting fly-half Ashley Groves, who’d had a nightmare day in front of goal, missing five out of his six kicks in normal time, put over a penalty to edge his side one point in front.
But even then there was still time for Ivybridge to claim the four points when they were awarded a penalty 35 metres out with the last play of the game.
Up stepped youngster Mitch Pinkus, who had kicked everything previously during the match, including two touchline conversions, but, agonisingly he missed, when even the Old Reds players were thinking they had lost the game.
Although the two injury-time penalty kicks were decisive, the turning point in this match came in the final quarter when Ivybridge had two players sin-binned – Seb Slade and Matt Finn – within the space of two minutes and Old Reds cut the gap from 24-17 to 24-22.
Ivybridge, who had been 24-12 up at one point, had really battled all game, especially when down to 13 men. Their defence against an impressive Old Reds team was outstanding and their disappointment was obvious when the final whistle blew on a cold and snowy afternoon in the South Hams.
“It was painful – very gutting,” admitted Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “I think that is one of the defeats that will hurt us the most.
“I don’t believe we threw away a lead. I felt the referee made some really poor decisions that allowed them back into the game.
“But they (Old Redcliffians) are at the top of the league for a reason. They are a very good outfit and a team like that will capitalise.
“Yet we were down to 13 men at one point and defended for long periods, but we still had a kick to win the game. If that had gone over it would be a very different conversation.
“But, unfortunately, it didn’t and it wasn’t to be for us, but that does not mean our season is over.
“We have got a point and we will go into next week and hope for the best.”
Paterson added: “We can take a lot from this game.
“There is so much heart in this side and our defence was outstanding. That is something we can build on and take forward.
“There wasn’t much wrong in that game. It was a game we could easily have won.”
On Mitch Pinkus’ last-gasp penalty miss, Paterson added: “He had kicked brilliantly all game and I think it was the right call (for him to take it). It was just unfortunate for the lad that it swung left.”
Old Redcliffians started brilliantly and could have taken the lead before they did in the sixth minute through impressive full-back Henry Bird, who somehow avoided two tackles to score on the left.
But, having been kept in their half for the first 10 minutes, Ivybridge took the lead in the 15th minute when Damon Akerman went over in the clubhouse corner after the home side won a five-metre scrum on the opposite side of the field following a good drive. Mitch Pinkus converted to make it 7-5.
Eight minutes later that became 14-5 when Ivybridge broke from a scrum in their own half. Paterson made the initial break before off-loading to his centre partner Jordan Anderton, who ran 40 metre to score under the posts.
Old Reds’ Groves had missed a penalty before that try and he missed another on 26 minutes before the visitors did get a second try courtesy of lock Dan Fry to make it 14-12.
The game was very physical and both teams were reduced to 14 men just before the break for an off-the-ball incident, with Ryan Dingle the man shown yellow for Ivybridge.
After the interval, Ivybridge increased their lead to 24-12, with first a penalty by Mitch Pinkus and then a try from player-coach Paterson.
Paterson kicked forward down the left wing and somehow managed to touch the ball down ahead of any Old Reds player. Mitch Pinkus brilliantly converted from the touchline.
But then Ivybridge started giving away penalties as Old Reds, who some powerful forwards and elusive backs, turned up the pace.
The visitors should have scored in the 53rd minute when they had an overlap but threw the ball out of play. However, they did score five minutes later with danger-man Bird going over again in the corner to cut Ivybridge’s lead to seven.
Slade, who had come on as a replacement, was then shown yellow for persistent team penalties and then less than two minutes later the referee also sent Finn to the bin for 10 minutes.
Ivybridge defended really well with 13 men although Old Reds hooker Scott Parsons did get over for one try while his side had a two man advantage.
It did look like the Bridgers were going to hold on after defending their line brilliantly before they gave away a late penalty which Groves put over to edge his side in front in the third minute of injury-time.
However, there was still time for one more twist with Ivybridge getting a penalty of their own at the other end from the restart. But Mitch Pinkus, who had been given the nod to kick ahead of his older brother, Billy, who had come on to the field as a replacement, pulled the ball wide and the referee blew his whistle to end a thrilling match.
Despite the defeat, Ivybridge stay third in the table, level on points with second-placed Dings Crusaders, who lost 17-16 at home to Bracknell.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
PROMOTION-chasing Devonport Services returned to winning ways with a 20-3 victory away at Torquay Athletic.
Services were desperate for the win on Saturday after losing heavily to title-hopefuls Exeter University in their last outing and slipping up at home to Torquay earlier in the season.
There was little in the scoreline at half-time at the Recreation Ground, with Services just edging it 5-3, but the visitors pulled away after the interval.
Torquay did take the lead with an early penalty for offside, but Services went in front in the 25th minute with a try in the corner from the impressive Matt Gregory from the back of a scrum.
After the interval, Services had to defend hard as the Tics threw everything at them, but they soaked it up and then Joe Daley broke before feeding Brandon Andrews, who in turn put second-row Alex Matthews in to score in the corner.
Matt Anstis added the conversion before he was caught with a late tackle that resulted in Torquay having a player sin-binned and Anstis getting up to kick the penalty.
Devonport then had Joe Wyatt, playing at centre in the absence of Ben McGowan, sin-binned for what the referee deemed a high tackle.
The game got a bit feisty but eventually Services sealed the victory when Tyler Busfield scored after a good break earlier in the move by the influential Gregory.
“We exercised the demons of the Exeter University game,” said Devonport team manager Kieran Leach.
“We were quite comfortable really. Our defence was excellent.
“The forwards, though, laid the platform for the win.
“We didn’t get the bonus point but it didn’t matter as we’ve got back on track after the Exeter match.”
Services stay third in the table. They are now one point behind second-placed Cullompton and six adrift of leaders Exeter University.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks moved up to fifth in the Cornwall/Devon League table after securing a hard-earned 20-5 victory over Tavistock at Horsham Fields.
For the second match running, all Oaks’ points came in the first half.
In almost a repeat of the game between the sides at Sandy Park early in the season, Oaks dominated the first half and Tavistock the second.
Corey Jamieson and Mat Neyle-Opie scored tries for Oaks, with former Tavistock player Richard West kicking the rest of their points.
Tavistock’s points came from a Mark Friend try and they were convinced Chris Stables also added the conversion even though it was not recorded on the official result. They stay eighth in the table.
“It was a great game of rugby – a mirror image of the home game,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill, who insisted his team’s spirits were still high, despite not having won for five games.
Oaks coach Tim Mathias added: “We had a great first half. It was probably the best first half of our season.
“We didn’t play last week and didn’t have two great sessions during the week but we came out of the blocks really sharp, which was good.”
Mathias felt decisions went against his team second half which stopped them getting any momentum.
However, he like Kerswill, felt the game was similar to the meeting between the sides earlier in the season.
“It was pretty much identical to the last game between us, to be honest, but a bit more open,” said Mathias.
“Both sides had a go the whole game, which was nice. A couple of times last-ditch tackles stopped us scoring and them. On another day, if the referee had let a bit go, it could have been like 38-20.
“But overall I was pleased. The lads kept their defensive discipline and shape the whole game and we scored two really good tries which came from interplay between forwards and backs.”
The other Cornwall/Devon League derby match that should have been played on Saturday between Saltash and Tamar Saracens didn’t take place. Bottom side Saracens pulled out of the fixture as they were unable to raise a side.
Saltash, though, stay second in the table behind runaway leaders Falmouth, who have only lost once this season.
Falmouth picked up an 18th league win of the season by beating Plymouth Argaum 34-0, which was the same scored they recently beaten third-placed Paignton by.
Argaum certainly made them work hard for the victory at bitterly cold Bickleigh Down.
But Falmouth managed to dig out a bonus point win, scoring two of their five tries late on.
PROMOTION-hopefuls OPMs had to rely on the boot of Gavin Rae to secure them a 9-0 home win over Salcombe on Saturday.
With third-placed Old Techs getting a walkover against struggling St Columba & Torpoint, it means second-placed OPMs’ advantage over their city rivals is down to two points with three games to go.
Although disappointed not to get a bonus point, OPMs were just glad to get a win in a match that was a potential banana skin.
“It wasn’t really a close game, but it was a bit of a nothing game,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
“I think the cold weather had a big impact on the way the game was played.
“It was all played in the middle of the pitch and there’s not too much to say about it as there weren’t too many chances.
“They had two kicks which they missed in the first 20 minutes, but they didn’t get into our 22.
“In the second half we had a couple of little breaks but they stopped them on their 22, but they lead to penalties and we decided to take the points.”
Unbeaten Dartmouth stay top after beating Plympton Victoria 69-7 at home.
However, Plym Vic earned praise for their performance and for turning up to play despite only having 13 players and even playing with just 11 at one point.
Dartmouth took to Twitter to praise the Marsh Mill side, saying: “Huge respect to Plym Vic for their efforts and never giving up.”
Sam Willmington scored Plym Vic’s try. They have moved off the bottom for fulfilling the fixture, with St Columba replacing them at the foot of the table.
Meanwhile, DHSOB managed to do what no-one outside the top three had been able to do this season – beat Buckfastleigh.
The Old Boys triumphed 10-3 at Stonehouse Creek on Saturday in front of watching Devon RFU president Maureen Jackson.
Buckfastleigh had the better of the first half, but DHSOB defended really well and restricted them to just a penalty and a 3-0 lead.
After the interval, the Old Boys went in front with try by Shawn Muncunabitu, which was converted by Taniela Savou, who also added a penalty to seal the game.
“It was a very good win,” said director of rugby Mike Freeman.
“The conditions were awful and did not make it easy for handling, but our defence was immense.
“In the last 10 minutes, Buckfastleigh did their level best to equalise but we hung on for the win.
“It was very pleasing as we had a big crowd for level 10 standards, including Mo Jackson from Devon RFU and 20-ex players.”