IVYBRIDGE are hoping they can end their 2016/17 home campaign on a high when they host second-placed Dings Crusaders at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in National Three South West.
The Bridgers are eight points behind Dings, but if they were to beat the Bristol side this weekend then the race for runners-up spot would go down to the final match on April 22.
The South Hams club want to make sure it does go down to the last weekend and they also want to finish as the top Devon team.
Brixham and Newton Abbot are both now breathing down their necks after winning last week.
“This is a must-win game for many reasons,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “Obviously there’s still a chance of second place, but there’s also a lot of teams below us, like Brixham, who are now close.
“We want to keep that gap between us and those teams below us to cap off a great season. We want to finish around the top.
“It’s also our last home game of the season, so there is a lot on this match.
“The players need to identify that and enjoy it because it’s going to be a long time before they play here again – unless they make the Devon team.
“But it will be a long time before we as a club are back on our own pitch so we have to make the most of it.
“We have to let our rugby play. We forced it too much last week (at Cleve).
“We have to let the ball do the work and let our systems and patterns lead to things.
“This is a huge weekend. There’s no point holding back now. The boys just have to go for it and try and finish on a high.”
Ivybridge are missing key flanker Alex ‘Reggie’ Hall due to injury. He was injured in the opening minutes of the Bridgers’ 32-19 loss at Cleve. His place is likely to be taken by Seb Slade.
Full-back Charlie Briant also went off early at Cleve, but he has recovered to face Dings.
Ivybridge are also able to welcome back James Sloan, Mike Cox and Ryan Dingle.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
Services currently sit third in the table, four points above fourth-placed Truro and 10 ahead of Wadebridge.
“We want to try and keep that third spot,” said coach Mike Lewis.
“At the start of the season we did say we wanted a top four spot, but we don’t want to just scrape in.
“We were so close to finishing in the top two, but we have just fallen off a bit, but we want to make sure we cement third spot as a matter of pride more than anything.
“We just have to focus on Wadebridge.
“We know how difficult it is going to Cornwall, especially against a Wadebridge side who have hit a bit of form recently.”
Services drew 27-27 with fourth-placed Truro last Saturday.
“We were so close to winning last weekend and that could have been a couple of handy extra points,” said Lewis.
“But like we seem to say every week, we played for 60 minutes of the game but fell off for the other 20.
“We were on top for about at least 50 minutes of the game, but that wasn’t all from the start. It was a rollercoaster ride of a game. One minute we’d be fantastic but then the next we would let them back in for a few minutes.
“For a neutral it was a fantastic game. There were nine tries.
“At half-time everyone was saying all the right things. Bryan (Crichton) and myself did not have to say a word. We weren’t complacent, but maybe just took our foot of the gas five or 10 per cent and it let them back in. We didn’t really do anything poor but just didn’t quite do it as well as the first half.”
Tenth-placed Argaum are seven points clear of 11th-placed Bodmin and eight ahead of 12th-placed Honiton with two games to play.
Bodmin travel to runaway leaders Falmouth, while Honiton host Tamar Saracens.
Argaum struggled last weekend for players to feature against Paignton, but they are hoping to get two teams out this Saturday for their final home weekend of the season.
They will mark their last league match of the 2016/17 campaign at Bickleigh Down with their Plymouth Argaum Past Players Association Day.
“We have got a full team this week and, hopefully, we are going to get a second team out as well,” said secretary and spokesman Stuart Quarterman.
“I think we have got 30 players available, so we should have a reasonable side, certainly better than last week and when we went down to Penryn.
“Last weekend, though, was a really positive experience.”
Argaum travelled to Paignton with just 13 ‘recognised’ registered first-team players. Both clubs agreed to a 0-0 home walkover so a full competitive 15-a-side game could be played with a couple of non-registered players, which second-placed Paignton won 35-0.
Argaum travelled with a mainly young squad with veterans and ‘Return to Rugby’ players making up the numbers.
Cheyenne Edwards, just 20, impressed at fly-half with his kicking out of hand and he is one of the players that is likely to have played his way into the team, even with the return of more senior players.
Tom Holiday and Calum Mills are among the players Argaum are able to welcome back, but they are still missing the likes of Dan Smith, Jake Turfrey, Mason Edwards and Dave Hall.
Penryn started the season brilliantly but have lost ground since November and currently sit in sixth spot, but could yet finish fifth or fourth.
“They are a good side,” said Quarterman. “But, like I said, we will be a different side to the one that travelled down to their place (and lost 34-0).
“We just need to win or for Honiton or Bodmin to lose, but, even then, we would still need to fulfil our final fixture at the Pirates.”
Tavistock secured their safety last weekend by beating Bodmin 23-18 away.
It looks like they will finish ninth, but if they win their final two matches they will double the amount of victories they got last season.
On Saturday they host second-from-bottom Topsham at Sandy Park in their final home match of the campaign.
“It is our last home game on Saturday and although we are safe our intentions are still to win our remaining two matches,” said coach Hammy Kerswill.
“That being said, we will not be taking Topsham lightly.”
Tom Charlesworth retains his place on the wing for Tavistock after rolling back the years last weekend with a man-of-the-match display against Bodmin, while veteran Andrew Griffiths will be on the bench.
Andrew Craddock returns at scrum-half, with Andrew Smerdon moving to 13.
Colts Jack Easton and George Hillson will line up in the back three, which will bring down the average age of the side
“Both (Easton and Hillson) should be able to show off their electric style in what is looking like perfect conditions for rugby,” said Kerswill.
On Saturday evening Tavistock will be joining up with Whitchurch Wayfarers Cricket Club to hold a joint race night to raise funds.”
That race night at Sandy Park is open to anybody and starts at 7pm.
Saltash will also bring their home campaign to a close on Saturday when they host in-form Lanner at Moorlands Lane.
The match will be their final outing before their big RFU Senior Vase semi-final at Farnham on Easter Saturday.
The Ashes head into this weekend’s match knowing that if Paignton win at Plymstock Albion Oaks then their hopes of sneaking second spot will be over, whether they win or not.
Paignton are currently six points ahead of Saltash but the teams meet on the final day of the campaign.
Saltash would need that gap to be at least four going into that game to have any hope of overtaking their south Devon rivals.
Paignton, though, will not be taking anything for granted visiting Horsham Fields.
Plymstock Albion Oaks have only lost once there this season – and that was to Saltash.
Falmouth, Withycombe and Penryn are among the side that have all come a cropper against Oaks on their home soil this term.
The Ashes will be hoping Tim Mathias’ Oaks side can do them a favour.
A victory for Oaks could also secure them a top five spot for the second year running.
Meanwhile, bottom side Tamar Saracens travel to Honiton on Saturday.
Saracens were disappointed last weekend to lose at Topsham having beaten Bodmin the week before.
“Our remaining games are a bit of training exercise,” admitted player Marc Cioffi, who says the club’s focus is all about preparing for life in Devon One next season.
OPMs should have been playing Totnes at home in the semi-finals of the Devon Junior Cup, but they have forfeited the game as they had already planned a club tour to Hastings.
South West rugby fixtures are available HERE.