IVYBRIDGE are hoping to kick-start their South West Premier season on Saturday away at Forest of Dean side Lydney.
The Bridgers have been beaten by Dings Crusaders and Exmouth in their opening two games and have never won at Regentsholme before.
But player-coach Lewis Paterson believes a tough trip to Gloucestershire could be just what his team needs.
Lydney are also looking for their first win of the season after losses at Newbury and Exmouth. Saturday will be their first home match.
“I don’t think we have won away at Lydney,” said Paterson. “We had a close game with them last year. We know what to expect. It is a very hostile place, but in a way it’s a good place to go after last week.
“At the moment we just really need to focus on ourselves.”
Ivybridge have conceded 95 points in their opening two league games against Dings Crusaders and Exmouth.
Last week they were 26-9 up at half-time against Exmouth, but lost 40-29 after picking up three second-half yellow cards.
“We have made a few personnel changes and a few changes in training this week,” said Paterson.
“But we have addressed the fact that Exmouth and Dings are two very good teams.
“Exmouth were playing National Two last year and Dings just failed to get promotion (lost in the play-offs), but are pushing for it this year.
“They are two massive sides, but I still think we are contenders, especially with the talent we have in our squad.
“We are going up to Lydney looking to get a win.
“We need to improve on our defence and discipline. Hopefully, this game will be better and the result comes with it.
“We just have to look at ourselves and our performance. If we do that the result will come.”
Ivybridge bring experienced fly-half Matt Grieveson back into their team.
There is also a return for full-back Charlie Briant, who missed last week’s game against Exmouth.
Matt Finn and George Wilson are unavailable for the trip to Gloucestershire.
In Finn’s absence, Ivybridge will hand a first start to young prop Wes Vermigle.
Vermigle made his first team debut as a replacement last weekend.
Wilson’s place in the back-row will go to another youngster, Marcus Prout.
There could be a debut for Aiden Taylor, who has been named among Ivybridge’s replacements.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
Services were 17-0 up against Torquay Athletic away last weekend but lost 36-34.
However, they did win their opening home game 46-10 against Tiverton and they are hoping to make it two wins out of two at the Rectory against Truro, who they drew 27-27 with in April.
“Truro are always a good side,” said Services coach Mike Lewis. “They are generally better at home than they are away, but it is early in the season so you expect them to be pretty keen and up for it.
“Against Tiverton we did quite well, but unfortunately we lost last week at Torquay. We should have won, but this is going to be another step up again.
“Hopefully, we are on it this week. Last Saturday we did switch off a few times and they managed to take us apart in certain areas of the game, which was unfortunate and disappointing.
“But, hopefully, we can put those wrongs right this week.”
Services are boosted by the availability of Joe Semple, Jack Evans, Adrian Montague, Joe Daley and Jack Martin.
“That’s five players who were unavailable last week and that gives us a lot more options,” said Lewis. “They are not necessarily going to get in and start, but does give us a bit of a selection headache.”
Saltash and Oaks are unbeaten after two games.
The Ashes have claimed wins over Pirates Amateurs (50-19 away) and Argaum (40-17 at home), while Oaks overcame Argaum 26-3 away on the opening day and last week drew 14-14 at Withycombe.
Oaks have yet to play at Horsham Fields and so they are relishing Saturday’s match and the chance to test themselves against one of the favourites for promotion.
“It is our first home game, which will be even more motivation,” said Oaks’ Callum Cload, who will come up against his former coach Richard Thompson on Saturday.
Cload believes Saltash will be ‘quite worried’ having seen Oaks’ result at Withycombe.
Saltash were one of only two teams to win at Horsham Fields last season – the other being Paignton.
Meanwhile, the match at Bickleigh Down should be equally fascinating.
Argaum are still looking for their first win of the season, but they do have a good record over Tavistock, who have one win and one defeat to their name so far this campaign.
The Roborough-based club have won the last four league meetings between the sides.
“We really enjoy playing Tavistock,” said Argaum coach Mark Sullivan. “We enjoy going to them and them coming to us.
“We play some really good rugby against each other. It’s uncompromising, but it is clean and everybody enjoys the games. We are kind of similar.”
Although Argaum have been beaten by Oaks and Saltash in their opening two matches, Sullivan has been pleased with the progress he has seen from his side.
“I have felt every week that the performances over the last month, including pre-season games, have always been a step up.
“I said to the team that all I wanted of them was to be a little bit better each time and a little bit better than last season.
“The key players are really standing up and leading well. The more inexperience players are coming along really quickly. As a team they are a good strong unit and it is good to be part of it.”
He added: “We are continuing to build on what we have been working on which is game-play, control and heads up rugby. We have to look at what the opposition are doing and then develop our attack against what they are doing, rather than just running through a process.
“I was pleased on Tuesday night because it was really, really hammering it down but we had over 22 people turn up. That’s a change already in the culture of the team.
“Everyone wants to play for each other, which I am really pleased with.
“We had a really good training session in difficult, muddy, wet and windy conditions.
“Results are not going our way at the moment because we have changed the way we are doing things, but actually it’s the play I am encouraged with. The results will come if we keep doing what we are doing.
“We are relishing the game on Saturday. It should be a really good game and everybody is looking forward to it.”
“Argaum are very much our bogey side,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
“I don’t think we’ve beaten them since they arrived in the Cornwall/Devon League.
“I have heard conflicting things about their team this year, which almost contradict, but that’s been a blessing in disguise really as it’s meant we have concentrated solely on us and what we can do as a unit rather than thinking of ways to win.
“We’ve lost only one set piece this season and I think this has set the tone for some more exciting rugby that we have played this year.
“Friendly (Mark Friend) is embracing the 10 shirt and Ben Hadfield is really developing into a key figure in our backline.”
He added: “In my short stint coaching I haven’t seen the boys as committed and focused to training as I have over the last few weeks.
“It’s up there as one of the tightest Tavistock teams I’ve seen since being a senior.
“We’ve had 35 different bodies training this week and considering the torrential conditions on Tuesday, I couldn’t believe the commitments the lads showed. They deserve a victory for their professionalism alone.”
Tavistock are forced to make a few changes following last week’s impressive 38-0 win over Pirates Amateurs.
Richard Cann, Josh Langton and Jack Glover are unavailable. Carl Parsons comes in at prop, Phil Wilson will make his debut in place of Langton and Andrew Craddock will stand in at scrum-half for Glover, with Ethan Lamerton moving to outside centre.
Tavistock also welcome back Hallam Bourton after a few seasons away. He will start on the bench against Argaum.
DAVID BUTT TROPHY
Both clubs are level on points at the top of the table and they enjoyed two good battles in Devon Two last season.
Dartmouth won at Weston Mill at the start of last term, but Old Techs gained their revenge in the last game of the season to deny their rivals a 100 per cent league record.
In the end both clubs were promoted to Devon One and will be keen to put down a marker for the coming league season, as well as put themselves in a great position to reach the David Butt semi-finals.
“This weekend should be a good test of where we are,” said Old Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“I think it will be a tight game, which could go either way. Hopefully, we can get the win but it we know it is going to be tough.
“We watched them last week against OPMs are they are a very well-drilled side with some good players.
“But we’ve got some players and we are looking forward to the game. It will be a tough, hard match, but we just have to go through our phases.
“This cup competition is all about progressing each week and working on weaknesses.”
Meanwhile, in the other Pool C match, OPMs will be looking to get their first win of the season when they travel to Devon Two rivals Salcombe.
OPMs have narrowly lost to Old Techs and Dartmouth in their opening two games.
Salcombe have struggled so far this season. They lost 78-0 to Dartmouth and then pulled out of last week’s game against Old Techs.
However, they have assured OPMs that they will play them at Twomeads on Saturday.
“Hopefully, they will raise a team and you never know they might get a load of players in,” said OPMs captain Henry Matthews. “But we just want a game.”
OPMs second team, the Jesters, will once again help fill in for DHSOB in Pool D of the David Butt Trophy.
The Jesters took a squad over to St Columba & Torpoint last weekend and will provide Plympton Victoria with a game at Marsh Mills on Saturday, with DHSOB again short of players.
The plan is for the available DHSOB players to make a team up with OPMs Jesters to make sure that a 15-a-side game can take place.
Meanwhile, St Columba & Torpoint have already forfeited their game against Tamar Saracens in the other Pool D match.
Saracens have scored 266 points in two games against DHSOB and Plympton Victora.
Instead of playing the Saints, Tamar Saracens will entertain Liskeard-Looe in a club match at Parkway.