IVYBRIDGE are looking to ‘right a few wrongs’ when they host Devon rivals Exmouth in a bumper first home league match on Saturday (2.30pm).
The Bridgers lost 55-7 away at Dings Crusaders in their opening South West Premier game of the season last weekend, which was their biggest league defeat since losing 62-13 away to Torquay in Western Counties West in November 2012.
Exmouth, on the other hand, marked their return to level five with a 39-5 home win over Lydney.
Ivybridge coach Lewis Paterson, however, has been impressed with how his players have responded to their defeat in Bristol.
“We are looking forward to Saturday,” said Paterson. “There has been a really good response in training.
“We went back on Tuesday and everyone turned up and there was a good aura – no-one was feeling too negative.
“Everyone was hurting from the loss, but people weren’t beating themselves up. There was just a really good attitude – everyone wants to try and correct it.
“That was nice as it was easy to coach. Everyone just knuckled down. They know it is a long, old season and we are a good side, we just have to prove it.”
He added: “Exmouth are always good. There is a reason why they have been up and down to National Two. It’s a shame they came back down, but this weekend is just about us.
“We had a good pre-season and I think last week we got ahead of ourselves, especially myself, thinking we were going to hit the ball rolling.
“But we were brought back down to earth rapidly by Dings.
“This weekend is literally just about righting the wrongs from the previous week.
“Like I said, Exmouth are a good side, we don’t underestimate them, but we just need to improve on last week. That’s our first objective.
“We just have to make sure we have a big response and don’t put in a performance like last week.
“It’s our first home league game and it’s against Exmouth, so we should get a big crowd and good support.
“We want to try and make our home ground a fortress.”
Ivybridge have only made a couple of enforced changes to their team, with Jordan Anderton coming in at flanker and Tom Scoles returning to the backline.
“We have not hit any panic buttons,” said Paterson. “We are looking at the bigger picture.
“We’ve not made too many changes. We have got faith in the squad. It the second week and it’s a second chance.”
Ivybridge do include young prop Wes Vermigle on the bench, with Owen Garner, who was a replacement last week, set to get some game-time in the second team’s game away at Exmouth.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services coach Mike Lewis has challenged his team to prove last week’s big opening day win against Tiverton was not a one-off.
Services got their Western Counties West campaign off to a flyer with a 46-10 home victory over their east Devon rivals.
However, Lewis is expecting a much tougher test on Saturday when his team travel to Torquay Athletic, who beat Crediton 26-13 away in their first match.
Torquay are now coached by Lewis’ former Plymouth Albion team-mate Ed Barnes and have also just re-signed experienced scrum-half Alex Jeffery.
“As Tiverton had lost a few players, I think this week is going to be a lot tougher,” said Lewis.
“Torquay are one of those teams that whatever side they have out they still perform at the same level.”
He added: “We were very clinical in what we did last week.
“Our backline was really dangerous and our forwards worked really hard.
“We stuck to what we tried to do over pre-season and it went quite well.
“I am hoping it was not just a fluke. We’ll see this weekend.”
Forwards Mika Waqa, Aaron Webb and Adrian Montague are unavailable for Services this weekend. Webb has a suspected dislocated shoulder that could see him ruled out for a few weeks.
However, Services are able to welcome back vice-captain Sam Bennett after injury, while Devon and South West under-20 forward Ben Morris could make his debut for the club.
Services are also hoping that Joe Semple could be available.
PLYMOUTH Argaum face their second derby match within the space of seven days on Saturday.
The Bickleigh Down club, who have just become a limited company, opened their campaign last weekend against city rivals Plymstock Albion Oaks.
Argaum lost the game 26-3 but the contest was much closer than the scoreline suggests.
This weekend they face fellow Plymouth Combination side Saltash away.
The Ashes, who finished third last year, made a blistering start to their season with a 50-19 win away at Pirates Amateurs.
Argaum expect a tough challenge, but they were plenty of positives last week in their performance against Oaks.
“Despite the scoreline it was a positive performance,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman, who was particularly pleased to see former colts scrum-half Jack Franklin and new forward Adam Griffiths impress against Oaks.
“We are building quite a good atmosphere at the club and everyone is very, very positive.”
However, everyone at Bickleigh Down knows Saturday’s trip to Moorlands Lane will be difficult. They were beaten 69-0 there last season.
“We know Saltash, like Plymstock, are one of the favourites to do well in the league,” said Quarterman.
“They were certainly one of the best teams we played last year.”
Argaum, though, are boosted by better availability than last week.
Mason Edwards is expected to return, as is Kevin Sidebottom.
Withycombe have finished in the top four for the last four seasons and opened their campaign last week with an impressive 36-5 home win over former Western Counties West side Bude.
“Withycombe away is a really big test as they are always there or there abouts,” said Oaks coach Callum Cload.
“We know we have to improve on last week’s performance, but at the end of the day we got five points, which we’ll take and carry on.”
Tavistock play their first home game on Saturday when they host Pirates Amateurs at Sandy Park.
Tavistock, like Argaum, took positives from defeat last week.
They were beaten 43-24 away at much-fancied Penryn, but did pick up a bonus point and were 17-0 up before a yellow card and injuries let the Cornish club back in.
Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill said: “The Pirates lost heavily last week, but Saltash are a very good side so we are far from underestimating them.
“We beat them well at home last year, but were poor away and gifted it to them in the second half.
“Our discipline was good and our set piece was better. We did, however, take too long to adjust to changes due to injuries.
“With our colts and seconds at home as well and a social to accompany our first home game of the season, the atmosphere should be brilliant.”
Tavistock are set to hand debuts to five players on Saturday.
Ash Miller and Callum Dewson will start in the front-row, Ethan Lamerton and Ben Milligan will line-up on the wings, while South West of England colt Theo Cousins in named on the bench.
“The mean average age of the debutants is only 19 and across the team it’s only creeping above 23,” said Kerswill. “That’s a healthy prospect for the club’s future.”
DAVID BUTT MEMORIAL TROPHY
Techs got their cup campaign off to a victorious start last week with a hard-earned 18-10 home victory over city rivals OPMs.
Salcombe were beaten 78-0 away at Dartmouth last week but they did not have a full team and Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith is expecting them to be much stronger this week.
“Salcombe do seem to blow hot and cold,” said Bedford-Smith. “But they are always stronger opposition at home.
“We did get a win up there last year with a bit of a scratch side, but it was very, very close and the game could have gone either way.
“We certainly won’t be taking them lightly just because they got beat by Dartmouth last week. I think they only had 12 players, but I think they will be a different proposition at home, as all teams are.”
Bedford-Smith was quite happy with this side’s performance last week against OPMs.
“It was a good result,” he said. “We had a few out but it was good that all the players that came in all stepped up to the mark and played well. That was a pleasing plus-point for us.
“It is not an easy group we are in, but we’re happy with that because it sets you up nicely for the league.
“OPMs and Salcombe aren’t in our league, so it’s not like we are going to be playing all the teams four times.”
OPMs entertain Dartmouth this weekend in their first game of the season at King George V Playing Fields.
The Old Boys did have some good battles last season with Dartmouth, who went on to win Devon Two and get promoted.
“There are far easier pools to be in,” admitted OPMs captain Henry Matthews.
“We have not beaten them (Dartmouth) in the last couple of years, but every time we felt we could have done.
“They have got a massive pack and we just have to try and nullify that. We need to play it a bit wider. We have got a lot of pace out-wide.
“We are looking forward to it. These are good tests. If you were in the other pool you’d probably not be getting the tests you want.”
In Pool D, early leaders Tamar Saracens will entertain Plympton Victoria, who were also opening day winners.
Saracens crushed an understrength DHSOB 141-7 last week, while Plym Vic snatched a narrow 33-31 win over St Columba & Torpoint, who host DHSOB on Saturday.
Plym Vic know they will face a much tougher challenge this weekend against higher league Saracens.
“No disrespect to Torpoint, but it will be stiffer test,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “They are a league above us and as far as I am aware they are getting good numbers at training. It will be a really good test for us.”
Tamar Saracens are set to include new centre signings Steve Hodge and Gavin Mann in their side.
Former Plymouth Albion and England Deaf international Hodge has returned to Saracens after a season at Devonport Services, while Mann is returning to club rugby after a number of years out. Both have played for Devon Legends.
Coach Chey Bryce knows higher league Saracens will be expected to claim a comfortable win.
However, he said: “What I am mainly looking for is a performance. It’s not just about trying to get a big score.”
Meanwhile, DHSOB are desperately trying to get a side together to travel to Defiance Field to face St Columba & Torpoint.
DHSOB only had eight players last week against Tamar Saracens, but borrowed some to fulfil their game against Saracens.
It was a similar scenario to last season, but DHSOB did recover and director of rugby Mike Freeman is hoping they can do the same this time around.
DHSOB do hope to have some Fijians available this weekend, including coach Rabs Seru, but star player Shawn Mucunabitu is currently away at sea, although, according to the club, he has indicated his desire to stay at Stonehouse Creek, as has Lopeti Faha.
The Old Boys will also have a colts team in action on Saturday when they entertain Exeter Saracens in the opening match of the Devon Colts’ Merit Table.