IVYBRIDGE have put themselves right back in contention for runners-up spot in National Three South West after beating Devon rivals Brixham 34-30 in a thrilling contest at Astley Park on Saturday.
The five-point win has lifted Ivybridge up to fourth in the table and they are just three points behind second-placed Dings Crusaders.
Nothing had gone right for the Bridgers in their previous three games, but nearly everything went their way on Saturday, especially in the first half as they built up a 24-8 lead by the 32nd minute.
A couple of late missed kicks had cost Ivybridge five valuable points in their games against Old Redcliffians and Bournemouth, but on Saturday teenage fly-half Mitch Pinkus kicked everything and he also produced some great placing kicking out of hand.
Brixham, in contract, missed three kicks at goal, which in the end proved crucial, with both teams scoring four tries apiece.
“What a team to get back to winning ways against,” said Paterson, whose side got their tactics spot on at the weekend.
“We knew this game would be really tough. We know Brixham are a very, very good side, who have been on a massive run of form, and who have some very talented players.
“Last week (against Bracknell) we knew we had the ability and the skills, but we just lacked a bit of heart and self belief.
“But this week we believed in everything we did and played some fantastic rugby.
“I would have loved to have watched the game. For a neutral it would have been a great game to watch.
“I thought both sides really gave it their all.”
The teams have to meet again next Saturday at Astley Park in the semi-final of the Devon Senior Cup.
Brixham are going to be gunning for victory in that match after being left frustrated that the referee blew up early on Saturday, just after they had got to get to within a score of Ivybridge.
The official ended the game in the 78th minute, robbing spectators of another few minutes of an entertaining clash.
Ivybridge, though, were not complaining and it has certainly set up next week’s cup tie.
Brixham started the game well and took the lead in the second minute when Adam Thomas went over for a try on the left.
Former Albion and Bristol fly-half Ed Barnes missed the conversion and also a penalty seven minutes later after Mitch Pinkus had kicked one at the other end to make it 5-3.
Ivybridge scored their first try on 13 minutes. It came after they were awarded a five-metre scrum after the referee adjudged that Brixham full-back Tom Goodman had touched the before grounding it in the in-goal area following a long kick up-field by the visitors. From the set-piece, Ivybridge pressed and the influential Jamie Tripcony managed to get the ball down and Pinkus converted.
Barnes did kick a penalty to pull his side to within two points, but on 23 minutes Brixham got caught out by another kick forward, this time by Paterson after the visitors attacked from another scrum. He chipped ahead and the ball bounced perfectly for him to collect and score. Pinkus converted to make it 17-8.
That became 24-8 nine minutes later. A kick deflected off an Ivybridge player’s back and fell perfectly for flanker Alex Hall, who charged to the try-line from 25 metres out. Although he was stopped on the line, Ivybridge went right quickly and there was Tom Scoles to go over unopposed. Pinkus brilliantly converted from the touchline.
Brixham, who looked dangerous in attack but less comfortable fielding deep kicks, got back into the game before half-time with a try from a catch-and-drive move by hooker Kyle Cane, which Barnes converted. That made it 24-15 to Ivybridge at the break.
Eight minutes after the interval it got better for the visitors when they were awarded a penalty try for what the referee deemed a dangerous tackle stopping Damon Akerman from scoring following a great break. Not only was a penalty try awarded, but Brixham were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.
However, the numbers were evened up five minutes later when Justin Rogers was yellow carded for Ivybridge, who had cleverly been pinning Brixham back in their 22 with some great kicking.
While both teams were down to 14 players, Brixham scored a third try through the powerful Sam Thomas, but replacement Ben Lovell missed the conversion. However, he did kick a penalty minutes later to make it 31-23.
Crucially, though, Brixham were penalised not long later near the halfway line and the referee moved it forward 10 metres for back-chat, giving Pinkus the chance to put his side 34-23 up.
Brixham looked frustrated, but they regrouped and spent the last 10 minutes on the attack, although Ivybridge defended well.
The home team nearly got through on 70 minutes but the Bridgers stopped them on the left. However, eight minutes later they did score when Joe Lovell crossed nearly the posts and Ben Lovell converted to put Brixham just four points behind.
Both teams were expecting to go back for the restart for at least one more play, but, surprisingly, the referee blew for full-time.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services also returned to winning ways on Saturday by narrowly beating Tiverton 20-18 at the Rectory in Western Counties West.
The win keeps Services in third spot, but the top two, Exeter University and Cullompton, show no signs of slipping up with just four games to go.
Services are nine points behind, but their focus now is trying to maintain third position.
They did have to work hard for their four points against Tiverton, who could have earned a draw had they kicked a late conversion.
“The game was as close as it reads,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach.
“They were 20 of the hardest points we’ve earned this season.
“Tiverton, who have nothing really to play for, came down and just threw everything at us.
“We were missing quite a lot of regulars, but everyone who stepped up from the second team acquitted themselves very well.”
With three tight-head props unavailable, Services had to get special dispensation to register second team front-row forward Liyam Laraba, who is a PhD student at the University of Plymouth.
He came on for his debut in the second half, while fellow forward Max Vangorkum only arrived back in the country in the early hours of Saturday morning following a skiing holiday but drove straight back and arrived a minute before kick-off.
Services took the lead in the 22nd minute when left winger Elliot Lupson, who was Services’ second team player of the year in 2015/16, crossed for a try, which Matt Anstis converted.
Anstis kicked a penalty 10 minutes later to make it 10-0 to the home team.
But just before the break, Tiverton were awarded a controversial try, which they converted, to leave them just three points behind at the interval.
And straight after the break they levelled the match before Joe Semple was yellow carded for Services and Tiverton took a 13-10 lead.
The home team, though, hit back with a converted try by right winger Luke Stannard, who crossed in the corner to make it 17-13.
After his good touchline conversion, Anstis then kicked a penalty to put his side 20-13 in front after good work by Ty Colwill.
Tiverton continued to press and just before the final whistle they crossed for a try, but surprisingly they missed the conversion.
PLYMOUTH Argaum find themselves anxiously looking over their shoulders after crashing to a 41-14 defeat at Honiton.
The win has moved Honiton to within four points of 10th-placed Argaum, who have been dragged into a relegation battle due to the form of the teams below them.
The Roborough-based club now face a crucial trip to Topsham next Saturday, which is now a game they cannot really afford to lose.
Argaum, missing a host of players due to injury and unavailability, never really got going in east Devon on Saturday.
“This defeat has put us in a sticky situation,” admitted club secretary Stuart Quarterman.
“The one positive was that we did have five 18-year-olds in our squad, which is good for the future.”
Dan Smith and Jon Fulton scored Argaum’s tries, with Cheyenne Edwards converting both.
Argaum were not helped by second-from-bottom Topsham’s 21-11 home win over Plymstock Albion Oaks on Saturday.
Oaks, who have dropped down to fifth in the table due to the loss, were left frustrated by a Cornwall/Devon League debutant referee.
“The ball was going from one team to the other in a ruck and he didn’t give any penalties,” said Oaks coach Tim Mathias
“We just could not play our game because every ruck took two or three minutes. We got no quick ball all day. They (Topsham) had a big set of forwards and that suited them. It was frustrating.”
Mathias was also ‘frustrated’ at a try awarded to Topsham, which he felt they had not grounded.
However, he admits his team should have been better on the day.
“We didn’t have a great week at training,” said Mathias. “When you have had a five-point win the week before you need to follow it up with a big week at training.
“Like I said to the team, if we are training regularly then we’ll react to situations and find ways to bypass the referee by making decisions ourselves.
“We did look rusty, to be fair. We missed a couple of early opportunities to get ahead. When you are playing against a team near the bottom of the league if you go 17-3 up, then their heads are likely to drop.
“But credit to the lads, they did stick at it on Saturday and did play for 80 minutes. Although they were bemused about what was going on at the breakdown, they kept their discipline. But they were frustrated afterwards.”
The match was level at 6-6 at half-time, with Richard West kicking Oaks’ points. But after the interval Topsham scored their controversial converted try following a kick through.
Oaks hit back with a try by Dan Romang, but Topsham, fighting for the lives to stay up, scored a decisive second try and then a late penalty.
With Honiton and Topsham winning, Bodmin are looking in serious danger of dropping out of the league after 11 straight defeats.
Promotion-chasing Saltash were the latest side to beat them on Saturday at Clifden Park.
The Ashes triumphed 38-17 with what they described as a ‘workmanlike’ performance.
Saltash, who have dropped down to third behind Paignton after a points deduction, made a great start and were 14-0 up in as many minutes thanks to converted tries by Ryan Cruickshanks and Ryan Rayner.
Bodmin pulled one back through Paul Carter before number eight Steve Hillman put Saltash 19-5 in front just before half-time.
Rayner and Shaun Crawford added tries at the start of the second period for the visitors to put them 31-5 ahead.
Bodmin closed that to 31-17 with tries by Cody Armstrong and Harry Harland, but Saltash had the final word with Lewis Wells touching down and Harrison Reuben converting.
Falmouth were crowned champions of the Cornwall/Devon League after being given a walkover by already-relegated Tamar Saracens, who could not raise a side to travel down to Cornwall.
But the battle for second looks like it will go down to the wire.
Meanwhile, Tavistock dropped down to ninth in the table after losing 33-19 at Withycombe, who have moved up to fourth, above Oaks.
Tavistock paid for a shocking start in Exmouth. They found themselves 21-0 down after 12 minutes before mounting a comeback.
Going into the final few minutes, Tavvy were 28-19 down and were searching for a try that would secure them two bonus point, but their hopes ended with Withycombe scoring a last-gap score.
Tom Friend started Tavistock’s revival with a try from his own half. Chris Stables, playing his last game for the club before moving to Salisbury for a new job, added a second before half-time.
Andrew Schuttkacker scored a third try for the visitors on 60 minutes, but they just could not get the all-important fourth touch-down.
OLD TECHS celebrated their promotion in style by ending champions Dartmouth’s long unbeaten run on Saturday at Wessex Way.
Dartmouth were just 80 minutes from finishing the Devon Two season with a 100 per cent record, but Old Techs, who had secured the runners-up spot the week before, ended their hopes of a perfect campaign by winning 15-7.
Techs were 7-3 down at the break, but dominated the second half and scored tries through Billy Evans and Steve Wilkinson. Paul Ansell kicked the rest of their points.
The Weston Mill side were over the moon with their win, which they felt proved a point.
“We are very happy,” said chairman David Evans. “Our target was to come up here and upset them and we did.
“The first half was quite even, but in the second period I don’t think they got into our half. We just dominated. It was really positive stuff from us and our defence was outstanding.”
He added: “We wanted to set our stall out as we are both going to be in Devon One next season. We wanted to prove a point ahead of next year. It also means we have finished six points clear of OPMs in third.
“We have come to the Dartmouth on the last game of the season and we have managed to do what no-one else has been able to do this season. They have not even got a bonus point.
“Obviously they were disappointed to lose, but they were really respectful and really good hosts.”
Old Techs’ away record has been outstanding this season. They have not lost on their travels.
Third-placed OPMs put the disappointment of missing out on promotion behind them to claim a 22-10 away win at DHSOB.
OPMs were 17-0 up but DHSOB did hit back in the second half.
Shaun Grundy, Matt Thompson and Rhys Phillips scored tries for OPMs, with Gavin Rae kicking the rest of their points.
Taniela Savou scored two tries for DHSOB, including a great individual effort.
“We’re happy with the win,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
“It was a bit of a stop-start game. They had a whole Fijian back line out and you don’t know what they are going to do, so it is quite hard to defend against.
“They scored two tries, but I felt we were in control. We have had a lot of players out injured and, although we have missed one or two in key positions, we do have that depth that means we can still win games.
“And it (Stonehouse Creek) is a tough place to go and win.”
DHSOB’s director of rugby Mike Freeman said: “We were not prepared at the start, but after that it was an even contest. It was a good game – end-to-end stuff.
“OPMs did defend extremely well.”
Freeman was disappointed Savou had a third try disallowed in the second half.
St Columba & Torpoint were able to field a side for only the second time since January.
They travelled to fourth-placed Buckfastleigh, who won 66-3.
There was also a heavy defeat for Plympton Victoria in their final league match. They went down 64-14 at Salcombe, whose backs did the damage at Twomeads.
Plym Vic did score two tries courtesy of Nathan Couzens and Jayson Cleverley.