IVYBRIDGE’S hopes of claiming a promotion play-off place in National Three South West suffered a major blow after they lost 32-19 at Cleve.
The defeat leaves the fourth-placed Bridgers eight points behind second-placed Dings Crusaders with two games to go.
Ivybridge would now have to well beat Dings next weekend and then hope the Bristol side slip up at Launceston, who were relegated on Saturday after losing at Lydney.
Ivybridge coach Lewis Paterson is hoping his team can at least take the battle for runners-up spot into the final week of the season by beating Dings.
However, they also now face a battle to make sure they finish as Devon’s top club in National Three South West.
Brixham and Newton Abbot both won at the weekend. Brixham virtually ended Camborne’s hopes of runners-up spot by well beating them 38-14, while Newton Abbot came from behind to narrowly beat Bournemouth 26-25 away.
Both Brixham and Newton Abbot are just four points behind Ivybridge and they still have to play each other, meaning at least one will pick up points.
“We have made it real difficult for ourselves now,” admitted Paterson. “But we’ve still got something to play for. We’ve got Dings at home and if we could get a five-point win that would take it to the final game.”
Paterson admitted Ivybridge did not play close to their best against Cleve in a scrappy game.
“We were just so error-ridden,” he said. “It was just one of those games that was not to be. We were the better team but we were trying too much.”
Ivybridge were not helped by suffering first-half injuries to Alex Hall, Charlie Briant and Seb Slade, but Cleve were always in command. They went 17 points up at one point before Ivybridge closed the gap to five points just before half-time thanks to tries by Hayden Coles, Damon Akerman and Paterson.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors, despite Cleve finishing the match with 14 players after picking up a red card.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services and Truro played out a thrilling 27-27 draw at the Rectory in Western Counties West on Saturday.
According to Services team manager Kieran Leach the sides showed why they are third and fourth in the division.
The home team impressed in the first half and led 22-10, but fourth-placed Truro, who could still overtake Devonport in the standings, hit back in the second period.
“We started off really well,” said Leach. “We continued where we left off from last week.
“The first half we produced some of the best rugby we have played all season.
“But second half we gave away a few too many penalties and let them back in.
“It was a good game. Both teams showed why they are third and fourth in the table.”
Services really put pressure on Truro at the line-out and that helped lead to their opening try on five minutes which came courtesy of Tyler Busfield. Matt Anstis converted.
But Truro hit back with two quick unconverted tries to go 10-7 up before Services turned on the style to take a 22-10 lead.
Centre Toby Knowles went over for their second try after earlier good play by Jack Martin.
Martin then crossed himself after a telling contribution by Arran Webb.
Anstis converted Martin’s try and also added a penalty just before the break to give his side a 12 point advantage.
After the interval, Truro came out firing and pulled level with two tries before they were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Services responded with a touch-down by Joe Daley to make it 27-22.
But Truro refused to lie down and late on they crossed in the corner to take a share of the points.
TAVISTOCK guaranteed their place in the Cornwall/Devon League for another season with a hard-earned 23-18 away win at Bodmin on Saturday.
The victory moved them 14 points clear of the relegation zone with just two games to go.
It is looking like they will finish ninth in the standings, but they could yet double the amount of wins they achieved last season.
They currently have 10 victories to their name this term, four more than in 2015/16, but their goal going into Saturday’s match with Bodmin was to win their final three matches.
“We are now one-third of the way to our aim of winning the final three games of the season,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
Kerswill described Saturday’s clash in Cornwall as a ‘cracker’.
The teams exchanged early penalties before relegation-threatened Bodmin scored two tries.
But Andrew Smerdon got Tavistock back into the match and just before the break James Bruna also crossed to leave the visitors just 18-13 down.
Tavistock were much better after the interval, with Mark Webber kicking well out of hand.
Andrew Schuttkacker broke free to level the scores.
Tavistock, though, had Mark Friend and Martin Budden sin-binned and they had to defend hard. But they did it well and 10 minutes from time Ben Hadfield won them the game with their fourth try.
Saltash kept alive their faint hopes of sneaking second place with a battling 38-28 win at relegation-threatened Honiton.
Honiton made the Ashes work all the way and it was only a Dom Mulberry try that guaranteed them the win.
However, Saltash’s only hope now of claiming an immediate return to Western Counties West is if Plymstock Albion Oaks can upset Paignton next weekend at Horsham Fields.
With two games to go, Paignton remain six points ahead of Saltash, who they play on the final day.
Saltash went behind early on Saturday, but quick tries by Coutts and James Moriarty, both converted by Kieran Downs, put them 14-7 up.
Honiton kicked a penalty before Mulberry crossed for Saltash’s third try.
The home team, though, went 25-19 in front with two tries and a penalty.
In an entertaining affair, the Ashes responded with a forwards effort and another score from Moriaty.
Honiton kicked a penalty to close again but Mulberry sealed the match with another try.
Honition are one point from safety now, with Bodmin securing a bonus against Tavistock.
Plymouth Argaum were relieved to see both Honiton and Bodmin lose.
It means they stay eight points clear of the relegation zone with two games to go.
They did travel to Paignton to fulfil their fixture, but as they only had 13 registered ‘recognised’ players at the start of the match the two clubs agreed to a 0-0 home walkover so that a 15-a-side fixture could be legally played.
Argaum would have played with just 13 but they did have two unregistered players and three veteran committee members so the teams played a proper match, which Paignton won 35-0.
Seven of Argaum’s team were under-19. They stepped up to fill places of ‘unavailable’ senior players and club secretary Stuart Quarterman was proud of their efforts.
“I was massively impressed by the lads that played,” said Quarterman. “As a club we did everything properly.
“We travelled and the boys that played really stood up. We learnt a lot about people this weekend.
“We would have been happy for the 35-0 to stand as we lost 59-0 to them before, but had we not agreed beforehand we would have had to have played with 13. We gave Paignton the option of what they wanted to do, but the players didn’t know until afterwards,”
Tamar Saracens were not able to claim back-to-back victories, going down 31-7 at second-from-bottom Topsham.
Lock Marc Cioffi admitted they were a shadow of the side that had beaten Bodmin seven days earlier.
“Conditions were terrible. You could not tell which team was which at the end of the game,” said Cioffi.
“But we were a shadow of ourselves. We did not stick to our structures. We came off the pitch gutted, but the spirit is still there.
“All credit to Topsham. They were well-drilled and played some good rugby. They were very physical.”
Scott Sheldon scored Tamar Saracens only try at Topsham.
Meanwhile, Plymstock Albion Oaks’ disappointing away form continued when they lost 38-9 at in-form Lanner.
Oaks were unable to manage a try in Cornwall, but they stay in fifth spot as Penryn also lost.
Eight of Oaks’ nine defeats this term have come away from home and their only victory outside Plymouth was at struggling Bodmin.
DEVON JUNIOR CUP
OPMs had to dig deep to claim an 8-7 away win at city rivals DHSOB and book their place in the Devon Junior Cup semi-finals.`
Totnes are now the only team standing in their way of reaching the final.
The Old Boys will host the Devon One side at King George V Playing Fields next Saturday, with the winners facing Dartmouth or South Molton in the county final at North Tawton on April 22.
DHSOB had lost to OPMs twice in Devon Two, but it looked like it might be third time lucky for them on Saturday, but a tight and error-strewn game was eventually decided by a Gavin Rae penalty.
The home side got the best possible starts when Sam Halafaka scored after just 34 seconds.
Mike Walkden converted to put DHSOB 7-0 up.
They should have doubled that lead eight minutes later when Lopeti Faha intercepted an OPMs pass in his own half but he just did not have the legs to go all the way and was caught 10 metres short.
After that a much-changed OPMs got back into the game but they could not find the final pass to score.
They dropped the ball on the try line on 16 minutes and then wasted another glorious chance on 24 minutes.
DHSOB took their 7-0 lead into the break and then should have increased it after the interval, but like OPMs did in the opening period, they knocked on over the whitewash.
OPMs weathered that early second half pressure and then got on top.
Chris Harmer scored their only try on 56 minutes when he crossed on the right after OPMs attacked from a scrum.
Rae, though, saw his conversion attempt smash against the upright and bounce back towards him.
But nine minutes later he put his side in front with a penalty almost in front of the posts.
He did have two more penalty attempts but just missed them both.
DHSOB did get a penalty of their own on the right at the death, but with no recognised goal-kicker they went for the corner, but could not drive over for a winning score.
Meanwhile, an under-strength Old Techs side found Devon One runners-up Torrington too strong for them in the Devon Junior Plate quarter-finals.
Old Techs lost the match 36-3 to a bigger and stronger Torrington side.
However, Old Techs have qualified for the Devon Junior Vase final on April 22.
They will meet Exeter Saracens as both teams have got byes through the semi-finals with teams pulling out of the competition.