‘A TOUGH day at the office’ was how Ivybridge coach Lewis Paterson described his side’s shock 55-7 defeat at Dings Crusaders on the opening day of the South West Premier season.
Ambitious Ivybridge had travelled to Bristol in a positive frame of mind after an encouraging pre-season.
But they were well and truly brought down to earth by last season’s runners-up, who led 34-0 at the break, despite losing player-coach Luke Arscott to an injury early on.
“It was a bit of a baptism of fire for us at Dings,” admitted Paterson.
“They are a very good outfit – well drilled – but we just didn’t really turn up. It was just a tough day at the office.
“They are a different Dings side to what we have played before, but we just didn’t come out of the blocks firing.
“We were not clinical in certain areas, we made a few mistakes and we just seemed a bit flat. But these things happen. It was the first game of the season and it was just one of those days.
“Dings really came out firing with a good open game and we just defended poorly and paid for a lot of mistakes.
“A few people were either trying too much or not enough. It was just little errors and they were so clinical. If we made one mistake or missed one tackle, they punished us.”
However, Paterson says Ivybridge are still a good team and they cannot panic after just one defeat.
“The worst thing me and Trips (fellow coach Jamie Tripcony) could do is start hitting the panic buttons,” he said.
“We’ll look at it properly and look at areas to improve. I think it is more about tweaking little things for bigger outcomes, which we will do in training.
“It was not massive problems that were happening, it was just small defensive errors, or the energy was not quite there, and they just capitalised on it.”
Ivybridge’s only points came from a good try by Billy Pinkus, which his brother Mitch converted.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services made the perfect start to their Western Counties West season with a 46-10 home victory over Tiverton.
Services ran in seven tries and they had the bonus point in the bag by half-time.
New player-coach Richard West had an impressive debut, scoring two tries and showing his skills with the boot, while another summer signing Rhys Williams, who has returned to Services from Brixham, was also extremely influential.
“It was a cracking start to the season,” said team manager Kieran Leach. “You couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“Everybody from 1-18 played well. We were patient, kept to our patterns and play. However, we still did have our little 20-minute sleep like we seem to do every game.
“Our second team won as well, so it was a good start to the season for the club.”
Services took the lead in the ninth minute when West collected his first try after Williams took a quick line-out and the home team attacked.
They then had to soak up some Tiverton pressure, but they didn’t panic and kept their discipline.
And, in the 24th minute, they got their second try when West put in a great cross-field kick for Joe Wyatt to score in the corner. West brilliantly converted from out-wide.
“We played some really good stuff and our backs were on fire – they were excellent,” added Leach.
They soon went 19-0 up when another Williams break ended up with flanker Aaron Webb scoring and West converting.
And before half-time, Services secured the bonus point with Eddie McGingley scoring after some good handling by the backs. That made it 24-0 at the break.
Tiverton, who pushed Devonport to the wire in both matches last season, came out for the second period in determined mood and cut the gap with a try by flanker Ben Vickery after stealing a Services’ line-out.
West responded with a penalty before picking up a yellow card for swearing after getting hit by a late tackle. While he was off Vickery scored another try for Tiverton to make it 27-10.
But the rest of the match belonged to Devonport.
Flanker Andy Pond scored their fifth try under the posts after good work by Jack Evans and Williams, who also converted with West off the field.
As soon as West returned he pushed off a defender to score under the posts. He also converted to make it 41-10.
Then with the last play of the game Services captain Matt Gregory got on the scoresheet to round off a great first day.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks opened their season with a bonus-point win over city rivals Plymouth Argaum at Bickleigh Down.
Oaks won 26-3, but the game was much closer than the score suggests.
The first half was a very tight affair, with Plymstock just edging it 7-3.
Oaks took the lead with a try by full-back Corey Jamieson, which was converted by player-coach and former Argaum back Tom Richards.
Cheyenne Edwards kicked a penalty for Argaum in the 36th minute.
Both clubs had a man sin-binned in the first half, but neither could take full advantage.
But the game changed in the 52nd minute when John Fulton was sin-binned for what looked to many people as a good try-saving tackle.
While he was off the field, Oaks scored two quick tries through Brad Hart and prolific winger Matt Neyle-Opie to go 19-3 ahead.
Argaum, who lost Calum Mills and Dan Bolt with injuries, did have a good spell when they returned to 15 men, but they could not score, despite coming close.
And in the eighth minute of injury-time, Oaks scrum-half Lance Davies scored with the last play of the game to secure the bonus point for the visitors.
Their new coach Callum Cload was delighted to get a five-point win away from home on the opening day of the season.
He said: “We are not the finished article yet, but we dug deep and 18 boys won that game.
“It was a bit frantic. It’s early season and everybody was a bit too excited at times, but second half the boys really stepped it up and scored three tries to get the five points we came for.
“Everyone knows in the Cornwall/Devon League that all teams can win at home, but it is really hard to win away. So to come to Argaum and beat them at their place on the first day of the season makes it even sweeter.”
Cload was pleased with the way his team punished Argaum when they went down to 14 men in the second half for 10 minutes.
“We knew what their strengths were and how we were going to play against them and when they had a change in circumstance we adapted really well and took advantage to score points,” said Cload.
“I think that is the key – being able to adapt during a game rather than between games.”
Cload was equally pleased with how his team managed when they had a player sin-binned for a high tackle.
“We defended really well,” he said. “We knew what we had to do straight away. I think that was the most impressive bit of the game, going down to 14 men and not conceding a point. We didn’t look like we had only 14 on the field.”
Argaum’s coach Mark Sullivan felt there were positives from his side, who he is convinced are going to get better as they go on.
“We had a few selection issues due to injuries and so we had to move the team around,” said Sullivan. “But I felt the lads in the pack started to work well together. Our line-out is functioning, but not as well as we would like, but scrums are better.
“In the loose, I felt the forwards played quite well and the backs played well, but we are still working on the linkage between the two.
“It was a really, really even game and I felt every individual performance was there, but as a team we are still slightly lumpy, however, I’m sure we will get there.
“It is about the whole season and the team get that there’s going to be some hard games early on.”
Sullivan added: “We had two yellow cards and I thought they were harsh. Our full-back seals up all the holes, so they knew where to run as soon as he was off. They scored two quick tries.
“I was hoping we would get a try back early to put us back in the game.
“But we made more mistakes than they did so therefore they had more possession and could play more rugby.”
(More pictures of this game available at the bottom)
TAVISTOCK coach Hammy Kerswill was happy with his team’s performance, despite losing 43-24 at Cornish side Penryn.
Tavistock stormed into a 17-0 lead but a yellow card and then a host of injuries let much-fancied Penryn back into the match.
Tavistock, though, did at least return with a bonus point, which was more than they did last season when they lost 39-0 there.
“Apart from a funny 15 minutes, I was very happy, believe it or not,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
“First half I could not have been happier. We had a bit of a problem with the bus getting there so we only had about a 35-minute warm-up, so that was a bit rushed, but we went 17-0 up.
“Our scrum was dominant, which was very positive.
“But due to injuries we found ourselves down to 14 and that’s when the funny 15 minutes happened. We lost a bit of structure and they ran in a few tries, but we had the last word.
“We are actually very positive coming away with a bonus point, but it could have been another four, if not for injuries and had a few penalties had gone our way at scrum-time.
“Overall, considering they are one of the front-runners, apart from that 15 minutes, our structures were really good and we are happy.”
Mark Friend scored a solo try to get Tavistock off to a perfect start. Charlie Chalton, who impressed in the front-row, then went over from a driving maul before Martin Budden scored in the corner after good play by Josh Langton. Mark Webber converted one of Tavistock’s three opening tries.
Penryn got back into the game just before half-time when Tavistock had Ben Hadfield sin-binned and the home team continued their form after the break.
But Budden scored a fourth try late on, which Hadfield converted.
SALTASH put down a real marker for the season with a 50-19 away win at the Pirates Amateurs.
The Ashes just missed out on promotion last year and are hoping to be pushing at the top once again this season.
Their backs were particularly irresistible at Mennaye Field on Saturday.
They also produced two good halves of rugby, scoring 24 points in the first and 26 in the second.
Captain Ryan Rayner got them off the mark with a try under the posts on 12 minutes, which Kieran Downs converted.
Downs then kicked a penalty before Ryan Cruickshanks scored after Ollie Mulberry fed him. That made it 17-0.
Pirates responded with converted try by Jack Lonsdale, but Ashes went in at the break 24-7 up with a try from close range by Mulberry.
After the interval fit-again Will Morton scored their fifth try, which Downs converted.
Cruickshanks then ran nearly the length of the field for his second and Saltash’s sixth.
Pirates did respond with a touch-down by prop Noyce before Cruickshanks claimed his hat-trick.
Then final word went to Saltash prop Adam Coutts, who scored the game’s last try, which Downs, who had a good day with the boot, converted to take the visitors to the half century mark.
DAVID BUTT MEMORIAL TROPHY
OLD TECHS came from 10-0 down to beat city rivals OPMs 18-10 at Weston Mill in Pool C of the David Butt Memorial Trophy.
The clubs enjoyed some good battles last season, with Techs edging OPMs out for promotion to Devon One, and they continued that traditional on Saturday.
Scrum-half Sammie Matts kicked a penalty for the visitors, before he scored a try, which he also converted to put OPMs 10-0 up.
But just before the break, Techs prop Rudi Baker scored to cut the gap in half.
And Devon One side Techs dominated the second period, using their pick-and-go game to good effect.
Baker scored a second try before Billy Evans kicked a penalty to edge them 13-10 in front.
Then late on replacement flanker Martin Jarvis scored a decisive try for Techs.
“It was good,” said Techs chairman David Evans. “The real positive for us is that we had loads of players missing. It shows that we have real strength in depth now.
“Players really stepped up and when the others come back our bench is going to be really good.”
Debutant Jack Williams particularly caught the eye for Techs.
Devon Two side OPMs also took positives out of the game.
“As Howard (Turner) said last week, this cup is about building for the league,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
“Our squad was very varied. We had players playing in different positions.
“We went out there to enjoy it. We went with a squad of 23 and everyone got at least 30 minutes and everyone played really well.
“We know we’ve got to improve our line-out as we couldn’t win much first phase ball. We’ll do that in training, but we played some nice open stuff in the backs.”
Plympton Victoria were grateful to Sam Stockdale as they overcame Devon Two rivals St Columba & Torpoint 33-31 at Marsh Mills in Pool D.
Stockdale scored four tries for Plym Vic, with the final one coming in the last minute of the match to pull them level. Sam Willmington then kicked the conversion to win Plym Vic the match.
As well as Stockdale, Jamie Hough also scored a try for Plym Vic, who were struggling for players due to holidays and other commitments.
“It was a good, high-scoring game,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “It was a bit nip-and-tuck. We opened the scoring but they fought back very well.
“With seven minutes to go we were five points behind, but we managed to steal a try with a minute to go.
“We really had to dig it out. We only had a bare 15 players and they came fairly mob-handed. They had a full bench,” added Hunt, who played himself to make up the numbers.
Another team short of players were DHSOB. They were unable to get a full team out but still honoured a fixture against Tamar Saracens.
Saracens agreed to lend DHSOB some players to make up 15 and switch the game to the Parkway, but it was a one-way match.
Sarries ended up winning 141-7 in a game that the referee ended early.
Devon One outfit Saracens averaged more than two points a minute.
Former DSHOB player Frazer Tatchell scored a hat-trick for Saracens, who also had new signings Mike Cox and James MacFarlane scoring twice. Ryan Deacon also collected two tries.
“It was not a great situation, but it was a game,” said Tamar Saracens coach Chey Bryce.
“What was pleasing is that we managed to get two teams out – our second team played against Saltash – which for us is a massive achievement.”