IVYBRIDGE will be looking to claim back-to-back away wins when they travel to Newbury Blues on Saturday.
The Bridgers got their season going last weekend with a 19-10 victory at Lydney.
That followed on from defeats against title-hopefuls Dings Crusaders and Exmouth.
The Cross-in-Hand club are now hoping they can build on their success in Gloucestershire.
Newbury, who not so long ago were in the second tier of English rugby, have made a good start to the season.
They beat Bournemouth and Lydney in their opening two games before narrowly losing 16-15 at Bracknell last Saturday.
“We have set a goal to try and even out September,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “We are 2-1 on the losses v wins at the moment.
“But now we have tasted a victory – and away from home – training has been good. That win has given the team more confidence and has relaxed them a bit.
“If we could get another win (this weekend) it would be a massive morale boost, but we have to go up there with the right mind set and how we are going to play.”
He added: “Jamie (Tripcony) and I have played against Newbury over the years when they were up at Championship and National One level.
“They are proud club who have produced some good rugby players and looking at their results this year they can certainly play a bit of rugby.
“I am expecting them to be a good outfit and have something about themselves, but we are looking forward to playing on their big pitch. Hopefully, with the talent we have, we can exploit that and make it pay in our favour.”
Paterson continued: “We want to start with a high tempo and really get into them early on with a good running game.
“That’s why we are taking quite a lot of front-row cover because we intend to play quite a running game and that will be quite tiring for the front-rowers.”
Ivybridge are boosted by the return of prop Matt Finn, but Jordan Anderton is unavailable to travel to Berkshire.
Teenage prop Wes Vermigle keeps his place after impressing against Lydney last weekend, while Hayden Coles is rewarded with a start after impressing after coming on as an early replacement in Gloucestershire. Young fly-half Mitch Pinkus also returns to the starting line-up.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services coach Mike Lewis is hoping his team can avoid a potential banana skin at Burnham-on-Sea this weekend.
The Somerset side have yet to win in Western Counties West this season, narrowly losing to Kingsbridge on the opening day and then going down to defeats against Chard and Crediton.
Services, meanwhile, have won two of their opening three matches, with their only defeat coming at Torquay, where they lost 36-34.
But Lewis has warned his team not to take Burnham lightly, especially after Services lost 24-17 there towards the end of last season.
“Burnham have not won a game yet, but that’s always difficult as some players can get complacent,” said Lewis.
“They have not been smashed in their games; they’ve had some close matches and teams like them are always stronger at home.
“We have to go up there thinking they are going to win the league. That’s the mind set we need for a game like this.
“We went up there last year and they had not won in something like six games, but we lost and that put us out of the promotion race. We have to learn our lessons from that.”
Services are missing a number of players again this weekend, including Joe Daley, Ben McGowan, Rhys Williams, Jack Evans, Mika Waqa, Aaron Webb and Ed McGinley.
“We have not had a consistent first team squad yet this year,” said Lewis. “Each game we seem to be making five or six changes. Hopefully, we will get some consistency in the coming weeks.
“But we just have make sure we get over this weekend and make sure it is not a banana skin.
“They (Burnham) are quite a good side. I think they will do well this year. I know their results don’t show it yet, but they are not a bad team.”
TAVISTOCK and Plymstock Albion Oaks will both be looking to bounce back from defeats when they meet at Sandy Park on Saturday.
Tavistock lost 10-5 away at Plymouth Argaum last weekend, while Oaks suffered their first loss of the season with a 35-10 defeat at home to Saltash.
Oaks coach Callum Cload is hoping his team can put right their mistakes this weekend.
“We just have to learn a lot from last week and take it into the Tavistock game and put all our wrongs right,” he said.
Oaks have one win, one draw and one defeat from their opening three games.
“When we looked at the fixture list and saw Argaum first game, then away at Withycombe and then Saltash, we knew it was not going to be an easy start,” said Cload, who is hoping his team can get on a run.
Tavistock do not have the best record against Oaks but are keen to try and change that tomorrow in front of their home crowd, which should be boosted by a VP and sponsors day.
“Like Argaum, Oaks are a bogey side of ours,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill. “But the poor run against local rivals must end at some point and no better than in front of a large home crowd.
“They (Oaks) have started well and have a different look about their squad this year so it will be interesting to see how the game pans out.
“We need to make the most of momentum. When we are disciplined and our structure is in place we look really good, but we must work on maintaining this for 80 minutes and not just 15-minute spells.”
Tavistock are able to welcome back Charlie Charlton and Joe Hair, which will allow Phil Wilson to revert to his preferred position of hooker.
Josh Langton returns at blindside flanker, while Jack Glover is back at scrum-half, Don Oner at centre and Mark Webber at full-back.
Early league leaders Saltash have a big game this weekend when they travel to Withycombe.
The teams finished third and fourth in the table last season and both are unbeaten this year.
Withycombe, though, have strangely drawn their last two games against Oaks and Hayle.
Saltash did do the double over the Exmouth-based club last season, but the game at Withycombe was decided by just one score.
The Ashes are the only team to have picked up a maximum 15 points from their opening three games, but Honiton and Penryn are just one point behind.
Meanwhile, Plymouth Argaum are looking forward to renewing old acquaintances on Saturday when they travel to newly-promoted Torrington.
In 2014, the two clubs enjoyed a Saturday to remember at Bickleigh Down when they both won promotion from Devon Two.
The following season the two clubs enjoyed contrasting fortunes, with Argaum winning Devon One and Torrington finishing bottom.
But Torrington have now joined Argaum in the Cornwall/Devon League with back-to-back promotions.
Both clubs have had similar starts to the season, winning one game and drawing two. They both won last week – Argaum overcoming Tavistock and Torrington beating Pirates Amateurs.
“We have had a couple of good experiences playing Torrington,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “We both went up from Devon Two and partied together. Then the following year we had a good result up there.”
Argaum are hoping they can build on last week’s win over Tavistock.
“As (coach) Mark Sullivan has said it is starting to come together,” said Quarterman.
Argaum are still missing Mason Edwards and John Fulton will need a fitness test.
The Bickleigh Down, though, have been boosted by the signing of two new players – Spanish forward Santiago Blasco and Welsh student scrum-half Jack Flanagan.
“They are a couple of welcome additions,” said Quarterman.
DAVID BUTT MEMORIAL TROPHY
OPMs will say goodbye to their goalkicking back Gavin Rea on Saturday when they entertain city rivals Old Techs at King George V Playing Fields in Pool C of the David Butt Trophy.
Rea, who is originally from Gloucestershire, is moving to Hereford.
OPMs club captain Henry Matthews admits they are going to miss the centre.
“He will be a huge loss,” said Matthews. “He has become a real talisman in our backline.”
OPMs would love to send him off on a high with victory over Old Techs.
“We are looking forward to the game,” said Matthews. “We have played them so many times now that we know what it is all about.”
OPMs got their first win of the season last weekend when they beat Salcombe 17-0.
That followed on from narrow losses against Old Techs and Dartmouth in the first two group games of the cup competition. They are now keen to push on.
“We will hopefully keep trying to play this expansive game and let everyone play with confidence,” said Matthews.
Devon One side Old Techs, meanwhile, are hoping to bounce back from their 25-10 loss to league rivals Dartmouth last week.
“We were disappointed last week,” said Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith. “The team all knew they had not played well, so we are looking for a reaction from the players this week.
“OPMs are a very good side and they are capable of beating teams. I watched them against Dartmouth and I thought they were very unlucky to lose.
“But we just have to focus on ourselves. After last week it is about putting all the wrongs right.
“We just did not turn up last week. We gave away too many penalties and did not play well enough to win.
“It was just one of those bad days at the office. Nothing came off, but we have to draw a line under it and move on. We have to make sure that’s not the norm, so we are looking for a reaction.”
Tamar Saracens are waiting to see if they will have a game in Pool D of the David Butt Trophy.
They are due to play DHSOB but that match is in doubt with the Old Boys still struggling for players.
DHSOB have not been able to field a full side in their opening three cup matches and there is a real possibility they might have to pull out of Devon Two, unless they can find some new players.
They are trying all they can to do that. They have had leaflets printed and have been to both the University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marjon University trying to recruit.
“We are doing all we can,” said director of rugby Mike Freeman.
The Old Boys were in a similar situation this time last year but regrouped and went on to have a decent season, reaching the Lockie Cup final.
They are hoping they can have a similar turnaround this time, but admit it is ‘touch-and-go’.
“We were in a similar boat last year,” said Freeman. “But gradually the Fijians and university students came back and we developed a squad. I am hoping it will be the same again, but at the moment it is in the balance.”
Freeman said that pulling out of the league would only be the last resort. They have been in discussions with Devon RFU and are working with them, and other sources, to try and recruit.
Tamar Saracens are hoping they do get a game on Saturday. However, they have definitely got a second team match against the Peninsula Medical School arranged and have a game planned on Wednesday against the Royal Navy Western Region.
Saracens have struggled for competitive matches in the David Butt Trophy, but have been tested in club matches.
They played the Royal Navy Western Regional last week with a mixed team and lost 44-17 while they had a competitive match with Liskeard-Looe last Saturday.
“We have now played a couple of games where we have highlighted certain areas and aspects of our game which aren’t quite up to scratch and we’ve been able to work on them,” said coach Chey Bryce.
In the other David Butt Trophy match, St Columba & Torpoint are due to host Plympton Victoria at Defiance Field.
The first match between the two sides produced a thriller with Plym Vic winning 33-31 at Marsh Mills thanks to a late try.
That win and a walkover against DHSOB leaves Plym Vic second in Pool D.
Last week they beat OPMs seconds 48-26 in a friendly match after DHSOB pulled out.