IVYBRIDGE suffered a disappointing 24-7 home defeat to Devon rivals Brixham at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
The Bridgers were always second best in the match and did not even take full advantage when they had a two extra men for a spell.
The home team just had no spark and made too many errors.
Brixham, on the hand, had plenty of energy and power and, apart from a mad period in the second half – where they had three players yellow carded and conceded a penalty try, did exactly what they had to do to win on a horrible afternoon.
The Devon Cup holders might have started the day three points below Ivybridge in the table but had been unlucky not to beat high-flying Dings, Exmouth and Camborne.
The Fisherman were also boosted by being able to start Russell Morris and Koree Britton alongside each other for the first time in their front-row. They both had big games after injuries in Brixham’s pack.
Former Plymouth Albion back Tom Putt also had a massive match for the visitors in the backs. His long-range kicking out of hand in bad conditions constantly put the visitors in the right areas of the field.
Ivybridge’s kicking was unusually poor and they generally appeared to struggle with the wet and windy conditions. They were not helped by losing Lewis Paterson, James Sloan and Dom Loomes during the game.
“I think we were worried about too many other factors – like the weather and the pitch – and I think that crept into our game,” said Paterson afterwards.
“We knew exactly what Brixham would do and they did exactly what we had practised in training, but we just did not apply ourselves.
“I think there was just a lack of concentration from the boys. Sometimes it happens – you just fall asleep at work and switch off.”
He added: “It is difficult to take as we started very slow. We pretty much just gifted them seven points at the start due to loads of missed tackles.
“It’s frustrating to lose any game at home, but especially a Devon derby.
“It is also frustrating when you pre-empt what they will do and they do it but you still don’t defend it.
“To lose Sloaney and Loomesy during the game and was a big loss. They are two big players. I had no faults with the boys that came on, but you just lose that height and that bit of balance in the line-out and set-piece.”
Paterson was particularly frustrated his team did not make proper use of a two-man advantage in second half.
Ivybridge made the worst possible starts. From kick-off Brixham got the ball and put phase after phase together for two minutes before scrum-half Noah Nash scored and Putt converted.
Ivybridge did not get into Brixham’s half until the 15th minute and only had one real chance of the half which came when a high kick by Mitch Pinkus was collected by Paterson, who kicked forward himself. He and Damon Akerman chased the ball but Brixham just got to it before either could ground it.
Pinkus did try a long range penalty on 37 minutes but in the windy conditions it was off-target.
Early in the second half tempers flared and the referee sin-binned player-coaches Paterson and Martin Worthington.
Four minutes later Brixham had Morris also yellow-carded, but within two minutes they scored a second try when a long pass by Putt created space and ended up with Connor Bedwell scoring. Putt added the conversion to make it 17-0.
Brixham then found themselves down to 12 men when former Gloucester hooker Britton was yellow carded.
With both Morris and Britton off the field, Ivybridge opted for a scrum from the penalty and it was no surprise that the home team got the push on and got a penalty try.
But that was as good as it got for the Bridgers and two minutes from time the influential Sam Thomas added a third try for Brixham, which Putt, who only missed one kick out of five in gale-force conditions, converted.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
LEADERS Devonport Services recovered from a poor start to claim a vital home win over promotion-rivals Kingsbridge at the Rectory on Saturday.
Services were under the cosh for the opening 20 minutes and found themselves 12-0 down, with Kingsbridge’s forwards dominating.
They could have been further behind but for some good defending.
Scrum-half James Trout and winger George Banfield scored Kingsbridge’s opening two tries.
However, after soaking up some more pressure after those scorers, Services finally got going.
Scrum-half Ben Wadham reduced the deficit with a try after good play by debutant Max Venables and Richard West, who also added the conversion.
Four minutes later West put Services 14-12 up with a try of his own, which he also converted, after good work by Callum Perkins and Ben McGowan.
Kingsbridge, though, who were playing in South West One last season, went in at the break 19-14 up after hooker Jamie Winzer scored after multi-phases of forward pressure.
After the interval it was Services’ turn to put a host of phases together, which resulted in Wadham claiming his second try. West converted to edge his side 21-19 ahead.
West was then yellow carded, but while he was off, Devonport scored again when replacement Brandon Andrews touched down in the corner after full-back Morgan Andrews had taken a quick penalty and Andy Pond had done well with a clear out.
With West off the field, Venables took over the goalkicking and he brilliantly converted from the touchline to make it 28-19.
Kingsbridge kicked a penalty before Services had Fijian Daks sin-binned, but they were able to hang on for the win.
They stay at the top of the table, one point above St Austell and St Ives.
“I think everyone was worried that we might be in for a long day after the start we made, but we just held in there and repelled their attacks,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach.
“They were really on top early on. They really took it to us and we had to defend for our lives.
“But I think they ran out of a bit of steam, having used their forwards so much in the first half.
“It was a brutal game – there were some big hits going in.
“But we held out and we are very happy.”
SALTASH have dropped down to third in the Cornwall/Devon League table after losing 32-26 to promotion-rivals Wellington in difficult conditions at Moorlands Lane.
A late try by Steve Hillman did at least secure the Ashes two vital bonus points against in-form Wellington, who have moved up to second spot behind new leaders Penryn.
The Ashes did start the better and took the lead after four minutes when hooker Adam Coutts crossed after a good maul. Fly-half Harrison Reburn converted to put the hosts 7-0 up.
But Wellington, the league’s top scorers, responded with an Alex Davey penalty before Danny Lee and number eight Mickey Norman scored tries to put them 17-7 ahead.
On the stroke of half-time, the prolific Will Morton scored for Saltash. Wellington missed touch and flanker Lewis Wells ran the ball back before it found its way to Morton, who crossed in the corner. Reburn added the tough conversion to leave the Ashes just three points down at the interval.
Wellington, who have Cornwall boss Graham Dawe as a coaching consultant, came out strongly for the second half and charged into a 27-14 lead with a Davey penalty and a converted try by Ryan Marc.
In a good game, Saltash clawed their way back into the top-of-the-table contest, with a well-taken try from close range for number eight Hillman, which replacement fly-half Kieran Down converted.
Wellington, though, extended their lead to 32-21 when full-back Davey went over for a try to complete a personal tally of 17 points for the game.
The home side did not give up and came back again with a further touch-down for Hillman to grab a losing bonus and a try bonus.
Tavistock have moved up to eighth in the table after they beat Torrington 29-5 at Sandy Park on Saturday.
The bonus point win means Tavistock still have a 100 per cent home record this term, although Torrington did become the first team to score on their soil.
However, the match was not played on their usual pitch. Due to the bad conditions it was switched to the club’s second-team field.
That pitch does have a big slope and Tavistock played up it in the first half.
They hosts were only 7-5 up at the interval, with Charlie Charlton scoring a converted try.
But after the break, with the slope and elements in their favour, Tavistock ran away with the match.
They scored five tries in total, with three coming from scrums. Their set piece was again excellent.
Rich Cann and Jack Easton scored from the back of scrums after half-time before Charlton claimed his second of the match and Ben Hadfield finished the scoring.
“All round it was really positive performance in horrible conditions,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill, who was pleased with the patience his team showed in the first half.
Conditions also played a major role at Horsham Fields, where Plymstock Albion Oaks claimed a hard-earned 12-5 victory over winless Wessex.
“Storm Brian was definitely the winner,” said Oaks coach Callum Cload. “The conditions dictated the match so much.
“The wind was going into one corner and both teams when they had the wind behind them just played a simple game-plan and kicked to the corner.
“Both teams had to defend for one half while the other attacked. It was not exactly end-to-end stuff as it was almost impossible to get out of one half.”
Oaks played into the gale-force wind in the first 40 minutes.
They had been stuck in their half for the opening quarter of the match before they scored a length-of-the-field try. From a scrum in their own 22, the ball found its way to speedy winger Matt Neyle-Opie, who could not be caught.
Wessex did level through Tom Hayward after camping on Oaks’ line.
“They scored after loads of pressure,” said Cload. “Eventually we just cracked. You never want to concede but we defended for about 10 or 15 minutes and a mistake just came along.”
But they sealed the win in the second half when Neyle-Opie broke again and then put Tom Richards in to score under the posts for a converted try.
“We had the wind second half and we should have really capitalised more and got a bonus point,” said Cload.
“But we gave away a silly amount of penalties and that killed us a little bit as every time we got a bit of momentum going we gave it away quite cheaply.
“Also because of the conditions there were only so many phases before somebody dropped the ball.”
Oaks stay ninth but they have overtaken Plymouth Argaum, who dropped down from eighth to 10th after 19-6 home defeat to last season’s Western Counties West outfit Bude.
The north Cornwall club’s big pack proved the difference between the sides, with number eight Joe Wilson scoring a hat-trick of tries from the back of the scrum for the visitors.
Bude, playing down the slope and with the wind, only led 7-0 at the interval.
However, they doubled their lead after the break before Ali Murray made it 14-6 with two penalties.
Another Wilson try though secured the match for the visitors.
Argaum, with six teenagers in their side, played well but just could not match Bude’s force up front on a slippery surface.
“Both teams were very even, but the difference was they had a heavy pack,” said Argaum coach Mark Sullivan. “They had a massive weight advantage.
“We kept it to 7-0 playing against the wind and up the slope and at half-time there was nothing really we needed to change.
“We just needed a little more drive when we rucked – when we took it in we needed to clear it quicker – but other than that everything was fine.
“Unfortunately, what they did was put us on our line a couple of times and got pushover tries.
“There was nothing we could do about that and the team recognise that.
“I am quite happy with the way they played.
“In the backs and in open play there was no difference. It was just the set-piece.”
He added: “I was really pleased with the team. They have stopped giving away penalties and they really played for each other.
“They are now playing the rugby that I want.”