IVYBRIDGE have dropped down to fourth in the National Three South West table after losing 31-23 at in-form Bournemouth.
With Dings Crusaders, who had started the weekend in second, also failing to pick up any points at Brixham, the race for the runners-up spot – and a promotion play-off place – has really hot up.
Camborne have moved into second behind Old Redcliffians, who are now 14 points clear at the top.
Three points behind Camborne, sit Dings, Ivybridge and Bournemouth, who all have 60 points with six games to go.
Ivybridge, who narrowly lost 25-24 the week before to Old Reds, were disappointed not to have returned with at least a bonus point from their trip to Dorset.
They had the chance right at the death when they were awarded a penalty, but Billy Pinkus, who’d had a good day with the boot, unfortunately missed the kick at goal.
It was the second week running a last-gasp missed kick had cost Ivybridge points.
But coach Jamie Tripcony says the squad are still positive, with other results going in their favour.
“It a bit frustrating at the minute, but we’ve got to stay positive and keep going,” said Tripcony. “It’s still all to play for.
“We can’t change the past, but we could have been in a really good position, however results have kind of gone our way and we still have a fighting chance.
“It is just important that we don’t lose that hope. We just have to take each game as it comes.”
Ivybridge were without player-coach Lewis Paterson, who got married on Saturday, and fellow back Tom Scoles.
And they found themselves 17-3 down early on but hit back to go in at the break just a point down at 17-16.
Billy Pinkus scored a try and a conversion and kicked two penalties, while his brother, Mitch, also kicked a drop-goal.
But after the break Ivybridge suffered a blow when they had two players sin-binned and conceded two tries, including a penalty one, to go 31-16 down.
A converted try by James Sloan got them back into the game but they couldn’t snatch anything late on.
Tripcony said: “We didn’t have the best of starts. We were still on the bus for the first 20 minutes, but we clawed ourselves back into it just before half-time. There was some really good decision making to go for a drop-goal just before half-time.
“That closed the gap to just one point and put us in a great position.
“But then some yellow cards came and we shipped some points. But we fought hard at the end to get a losing bonus point, but missed the kick. It was just one of those things.”
Ivybridge will take a break from league rugby next weekend to play Tiverton in the Devon Senior Cup quarter-final.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services’ promotion hopes suffered a set-back when they were beaten 28-23 at home by mid-table Sidmouth on Saturday.
And to cap a bad afternoon for the city side, recent signing Joe Wyatt suffered a broken leg and faces at least six weeks out.
The defeat leaves them 10 points behind leaders Exeter University and four behind second-placed Cullompton.
Truro could also overtake them next weekend if they beat Burnham-on-Sea away in a re-arranged fixture.
However, with Truro still to play the top three, Services know it is still all to play for in the final six games of the season.
“It was very disappointing,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach after Saturday’s defeat.
“It was just one of those days when 15 guys did not click. We just did not play as a team.
“We went off script and did not take the right options in the right part of the field. We just never got into our stride.”
Services did take the lead early in the game courtesy of a Matt Anstis penalty, but the rest of the first half belonged to the visitors.
They went 13-3 up thanks to a converted try and two penalties by player-coach Tom Whelan, who was playing in National One last season, before prop Jack Martin went over the whitewash for Devonport to make it 13-8.
However, on the stroke of half-time, Sidmouth centre Rory O’Brien burst through to score a converted try after Services had knocked on.
Wyatt was replaced at the interval and later made his way to hospital, where it was confirmed he had fractured his fibula.
After some strong words at the break, Services, who handed league debuts to Ty Colwill and Max Vangorkum, came to life and they pulled level. First, prop Martin went over for his second try, which Anstis converted, before Matt Gregory crossed.
However, after all that work to square the game at 20-20 they then switched off and allowed Sidmouth to score in the corner courtesy of James Massey-Birch.
To make matters worse, Services then conceded a penalty at the restart, which Sidmouth kicked to go 28-20 in front.
Anstis pulled the home team back to within five points but they could not grab a late try.
As well as Wyatt, Martin also had to leave the field early, He suffered an ankle injury after scoring two tries.
SALTASH remain in second place in the Cornwall/Devon League after a 43-25 away win at Tavistock.
However, their 15th victory of the season was a lot tougher than the scoreline suggests.
Eighth-placed Tavistock really tested Saltash and dominated the second half.
But a clinical first half, which saw the Cornish side score five tries, including two straight from restarts, put the visitors in an unassailable position.
Tavistock, though, deserved credit for the way they came back at Saltash and will be disappointed not to have collected at least a bonus point for their efforts.
Ashes coach Richard Thompson was pleased to pick up another five points, which keeps them in an automatic promotion place, but he was not happy with his side’s second half display at Sandy Park.
“I don’t know if we were a little bit flat or a little bit complacent being so far up at half-time,” said Thompson. “I think we anticipated that we would run in a few more down the slope second half.
“But credit to Tavistock, they looked after the ball well. However, we made far too many individual errors and missed tackles.
“We just need to be a bit more clinical. We cut them to shreds in the first half in the wide channels but didn’t seem to do it in the second half.
“Obviously, we are happy with the win, but sometimes it is about the manner you play and we did not perform second half.
“But, like I said, fair play to them (Tavistock); they had some dangerous runners in their fly-half, centres and number eight, but we missed far too many tackles on them and allowed them to get a head of steam.
“They are not a bad side, but second half from us just was not good enough.”
However, Saltash are in a great position in the league and next weekend could also move another step closer to Twickenham when they host Winscombe in the South West Senior Vase final.
“It’s going to be a good end to the season,” said Thompson. “We’ve got a big cup game on Saturday. That’s the frustrating thing as we would like to have put a better performance in with what looms next week. But it is a win.
“From now on in, we just want to win as many games as we can.”
Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill was proud of his team’s performance, despite suffering another defeat.
“Previously in the season if we get a couple of tries behind we have been known to crumble, like we did against them away,” said Kerswill. “But there was just a bit of belief there this week.
“I think we came into the game a lot more relaxed. There was less pressure.
“It was a cracking performance and a fun game to play in.
“We had a young team out and you couldn’t ask for more really – they had the commitment, enthusiasm and want.
“I know last week (against Plymstock) was a loss and so was this but both times we have come off the pitch upbeat and felt we’ve had a good game of rugby.”
Kerswill, who was full of praise for half-backs Mark Friend and Chris Stables, was a bit disappointed not to get a point out of the game after scoring three tries.
“It was just too little, too late,” said Kerswill.
He added: “In attack we felt quite comfortable, but in defence we had to work bloody hard because it takes two or three people to get their big three ball carriers down and then when they spin it there’s no catching Will Morton.
“They are the best side out-wide in the league.”
The prolific Morton was the first try scorer on the day, but not before Stables had put Tavistock ahead with a penalty.
The home side started strongly and Morton’s try in the left corner did not come until the 11th minute.
But once they got one try, Saltash looked a different team and within seconds of the restart had added a second, with Ryan Cruickshanks going over the whitewash and Kieran Downs converting.
Tavistock came close to scoring at the other end after a great run by the influential Friend. They didn’t get a try but they did get a penalty that Stables kicked to close the gap to six points.
The home team pressed but Saltash always looked dangerous on the counterattack.
And the Ashes added a third try on 24 minutes when Steve Hillman went over after the visitors ran a penalty.
The game then lost its way for nearly 15 minutes before bursting into life just before half-time with three tries coming within five minutes.
First, Cruickshanks went over for his second after some great passing across the line by the visitors. That made it 24-6 and straight from the restart, Saltash scored again through James Moriaty. Downs converted to make it 31-6.
However, with the last play of the half, Tavistock scored a deserved try through number eight Andrew Schuttkacker, who like Friend, caused Saltash a number of problems. Stables converted to make the half-time score 31-13 to the Ashes.
The visitors went 36-13 up five minutes after the break with Tom Rixson going over on the blind-side after some good forward work on the left.
Tavistock then totally dominated territory and possession for the next 25 minutes but could not get any points for their efforts and against the run of play Joe Ronayne scored under the posts for Saltash on 70 minutes to make it 43-13.
But Tavvy’s heads did not go down and they continued to press and Friend got a deserved try before Kyle Maslen, playing on the wing instead of in the front-row, crossed for his first league touch-down. after James Bruna put him in.
(More pictures of this game can be found below)
Tenth-placed Plymouth Argaum are just a point behind Tavistock now after they claimed an impressive 38-12 win at Bodmin.
The game in Cornwall was delayed 45 minutes after the exchange referee from Hong Kong was late arriving due to transport problems.
But the hold-up certainly did not upset Argaum, who came out firing on all cylinders.
The Plymouth side, who included colts Jake Stanton and Bradley Washburn in their squad, had a bonus point in the bag after just 15 minutes, scoring four tries in the opening quarter-of-an-hour.
Dan Smith scored in the first minute before Tom Holliday added a second four minutes later.
If that was not good enough, Mike Hunt cross for try number three on 10 minutes, which Al Murray converted, and then Ryan Chivers, acting as an emergency prop, made it 24-0 on 15 minutes.
But after that Bodmin got to grips with Argaum. The home team pulled a try back at the end of the first quarter, but before half-time, Argaum had a fifth try with Holliday adding his second of the day.
The second half was a relatively quiet affair with both teams only managing one try apiece, with Argaum’s coming from Matt Bankfield.
“It was a good result,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “But if we’d kept the intensity going it could have been even more.
“We really flew at them and hit them with everything we had. We got the bonus point within 15 minutes.”
Argaum may have enjoyed their trip to Cornwall, but the same could not be said of Plymstock Albion Oaks, who crashed 57-6 away at league leaders Falmouth.
Oaks had been expecting a fired up Falmouth side, who were keen for revenge after their loss at Horsham Fields earlier in the season, and that was certainly what they got.
Oaks are the only team to have beaten the Cornish club this term, but they never looked like repeating that feat on Saturday and in the end Falmouth ran in nine unanswered tries – five of which came from Dan Hubble.
The visitors’ only points came from two Richard West penalties. The defeat has seen Oaks drop down to sixth in the table, with Withycombe moving above them.
Withycombe are up to fourth after beating Tamar Saracens 30-3 at their east Devon home.
Saracens did take an early lead with a penalty and battled hard all through the match, but Withycombe managed to score 15 points in each half.
WITH just two games of the season to go in Devon Two, Old Techs find themselves in pole position for promotion after they claimed a hard-earned 16-14 win at Salcombe and OPMs suffered a surprise 30-14 defeat at Buckfastleigh.
Techs have not been in the top two all year, but have leapfrogged above OPMs after their win in south Devon.
They now sit in second spot, two points above OPMs, who know they could miss out on an immediate return to Devon One if they fail to beat leaders Dartmouth in their next match.
OPMs captain Henry Matthews is disappointed promotion is no longer in his side’s own hands, but insists they have to still believe that Old Techs might slip up against Buckfastleigh or Dartmouth.
“It’s not all over,” said Matthews. “But it is out of our hands now.
“We’ve just got to go back to the mantra of ‘let’s just enjoy it’. If we don’t go up we are still playing rugby every Saturday.
“Obviously, it would be nice to go up, but we just have to work twice as hard now for the last two games.
“If Buckfastleigh play like they did against us then Old Techs might struggle against them. But we can’t worry about that. We’ve just got to concentrate on what we can do.
“We have Dartmouth at home next in the league and that’s going to be a big day for us.”
Matthews admitted OPMs were well beaten at Buckfastleigh.
“It is the first time this season we can really say we were properly beaten,” he said. “They were better – they played really well.
“We started a bit slow and they cut through a few holes in the middle of the pitch. We missed having Gavin (Rae) at centre. He was away this week.
“We played the last 20 minutes with a lot of fire but made a couple of handling errors at times.
“They (Buckfastleigh) deserved the win – we can’t say anymore than that.”
Matt Naylor scored OPMs’ only try on the day, with Sam Matts kicking three penalties.
But while there was disappointment for OPMs, there was joy for Techs, who are desperate for promotion after finishing third last year.
“Both us and OPMs knew we had potential banana skins this weekend, but fortunately we’ve overcome ours,” said Techs chairman David Evans.
“We are now second with just two games to go. It is the first time this season we have been in the top two and our destiny is in our hands now.
“Our aim is to win our last two games.”
Evans admitted there were some nerves towards the end of their game because of what was at stake.
“It was nerve-wracking at the end because we desperately needed the win,” he said.
“It was a tight-game, but I always felt we were in control, although they (Salcombe) are a very resilient side.”
Techs, who are currently without both their centres, took a 3-0 lead through a Paul Ansell penalty.
Salcombe levelled and then went 6-3 up. Ansell, though, kicked another penalty and then, on the stroke of half-time, Joe Bailey scored a crucial try for the visitors, which Ansell converted. That put Techs 13-6 up at the break.
Salcombe reduced that to 13-11 with a try before both clubs traded penalties to leave the final score at 16-14.
DHSOB made leaders Dartmouth work extremely hard to keep their unbeaten record intact.
The Old Boys produced a really good display but went down 22-14 at the south Devon side.
The visitors paid for a slow start and for a failure to be able to defend Dartmouth’s catch-and-drive game.
Dartmouth went 12-0 up with two almost identical tries from line-out moves, but then the Old Boys woke up and really took the game to their hosts.
Taniela Savou scored two tries and two conversions but they could not get close enough to return with anything other than pride.
“We did exceptionally well against the unbeaten top of the league,” said DHSOB’s director of rugby Mike Freeman.
“We deserved at least a bonus point.
“They (Dartmouth) said it was one of the hardest games they’ve had all season.
“We were really pleased with our performance and the game was a really good advert for Devon Two rugby.”
Plympton Victoria claimed their first league win for two seasons when they beat St Columba & Torpoint 21-0 at Marsh Mills.
Plym Vic had beaten the Saints in the David Butt Trophy at the start of the season but had narrowly lost 18-13 at Defiance Field in December.
The home team were 15-0 up at the break thanks to two tries by Oliver Ayers and a penalty and conversion from Sam Willmington.
After the interval, Willmington added two more penalties to make the game safe for Plym Vic.