IVYBRIDGE make a number of changes as they attempt to get their season back on track at home to third-placed Bournemouth in the South West Premier League (2.30pm).
The Bridgers have lost their last three matches to slip down to 11th in the table.
They are able to welcome back Jordan Anderton after he has missed the last few games due to the birth of his child.
Damon Akerman also returns, while Luke Martell, Justin Rogers (pictured top) and Aiden Taylor are handed starts and Marcus Prout moves from the back-row to his favoured front-row position.
“We kind of had a team in mind that we have wanted to look at in the last few weeks and the opportunity has come,” said player-coach Lewis Paterson.
“There are lots of changes in the squad but those are the in-form players. The boys coming in have trained really well and put in a lot of effort.”
Ivybridge, though, have suffered a blow this week with news that Devon winger Tom Scoles is set to miss the rest of the season after suffering a serious shoulder injury last week against Newton Abbot.
He dislocated his shoulder during the match and it got put back in and managed to finish the game, but it went again as he stretched afterwards and it was later found he had also chipped a bone.
Despite their 41-24 loss at second-placed Newton Abbot last week, Paterson felt there were plenty of positives.
“It was a game we could have won,” said Paterson. “They (Newton Abbot) were very good and scored right the end, which made scoreline a bit generous. It was a good game.
“We showed we can go to Newton Abbot, score four tries and almost win. That shows we can compete with the top.
“It was nice to see that we were back to our old Ivybridge self last week in terms of running rugby. We scored some brilliant tries, but just needed to up our defence, which is what we have done this week.”
He added: “We are definitely going for the win this week. It is about time we got back on track. There is a pressure on, but in a good way.
“Hopefully, we can make home advantage count against Bournemouth.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
LEADERS Devonport Services are expecting possibly their toughest test of the season when they travel to fifth-placed Wadebridge Camels on Saturday.
Wadebridge have only lost twice this season – both away. They are unbeaten on their own ground.
“It will be a real tough one,” said Services coach Mike Lewis.
“I think this will probably be our toughest test of the season. I know we had Kingsbridge at home the other week, but I think these guys will be just as good and them being at home will make it that bit tougher.
“They (Wadebridge) have had a reasonable start to the season, apart from last week when they lost away at Crediton.
“They are just one of those teams that don’t travel that well, but we know at home they are much stronger, so we know we will be up against it.
“Historically, Wadebridge has always been a tough place to go and win.”
Services travel down to Cornwall on the back of a 33-10 home win over Falmouth. They scored four of their five tries in that match within the first 24 minutes.
“We played really well,” said Lewis. “Even in the second half we played some good rugby but just did not have that discipline and shape to quite maintain that attacking threat. It was just little things – things that happen when you get tired or a bit complacent because you are four tries up – but we have addressed that this week.”
Services again have to make a number of changes to their side.
“Rhys Williams is getting married so we’ll be missing a couple of players due to that,” said Lewis.
“Jack Martin and Mika (Waka) have work, but Sam Bennett is back and so is Jason Stead.”
Meanwhile, Devonport Services IIs will be in action at the Rectory on Friday night when they play Plymouth University IIs.
IT’S a home weekend for all the Plymouth Combination clubs in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Tavistock host Wessex, Plymouth Argaum entertain Honiton, Saltash welcome Bude to Moorlands Lane, while Plymstock Albion Oaks play Hayle at Horsham Fields.
Tavistock will be expected to continue their 100 per cent home record against winless Wessex.
The Sandy Park club have only conceded five points in three matches on their own soil.
However, Tavvy know they cannot take Wessex lightly.
“Our home record is good, but Wessex will not be easy,” said coach Hammy Kerswill.
“I am expecting a battle up front and some tuck-it-up-the-shirt type of rugby.”
Tavistock are still without prop Joe Hair due to a minor shoulder niggle, so Kerswill will move across from hooker.
Josh Langton is available to come back into Tavvy’s back-row, while captain Andrew Schuttkacker has been given the all clear to play after breaking a bone in his foot. He will start on the bench.
Recent signing Dylan Penberthy will line-up at fly-half, with Mark Friend moving to the centre. They also have promising winger Ethan Lamerton back from holiday.
Third-placed Saltash will be expecting a tough test against visiting Bude at Moorlands Lane.
Bude have won their last three matches and their only defeats this term have come away at Penryn, Honiton and Withycombe.
Bude’s pack has proved a big weapon for them and the Ashes, who beat Wessex 82-14 last week, will be keen to make it more of an open game and get their speedy backs going.
Plymouth Argaum will be looking to cause something of an upset when they host fourth-placed Honiton at Bickleigh Down.
Argaum have lost their last two matches, but are expected to have a few players back this weekend, including Calum Mills.
After their brilliant start to the season, Honiton have lost two of their last three games, but did beat Pirates Amateurs 51-3 last Saturday.
“It is certainly going to be another tough game,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman.
“But we have got some more players back this week.”
Scrum-half Ben Glanfield, though, is unavailable. Euan Collins, Jack Flanaghan and Dan Withers could all be in contention for the number nine jersey.
Argaum have been finishing games strongly, but are keen to try and play for a full 80 minutes.
“It just seems to take us a while to realise how good we are,” said Quarterman.
Plymstock Albion Oaks will be keen to get back to winning ways when they entertain 11th-placed Hayle.
Oaks suffered a frustrating 21-17 loss at Bude last week. However, they have won their last two home games and will be hoping to make it three in a row this weekend.
Hayle have been unpredictable so far this year. They beat Argaum 29-5 last weekend and have earned a draw with Withycombe, but have also lost to the Pirates Amateurs.
Oaks could do with a win to close the gap on the top six, who have opened a bit of a gap.
DEVON ONE & TWO
TAMAR Saracens have not had the best preparations for their first Devon One home match of the season against David Butt Trophy winners South Molton.
After last week’s abandonment against New Cross for a mass bawl they are facing a disciplinary hearing on Monday, they have also been docked five points for failing to fulfil a fixture towards the end of last season and have lost the services of back-row forwards Mike Cox and Scott Cooper.
Cox has been suspended by the club for picking up a red card last weekend, while Devon under-18 forward Cooper has left the Devon One outfit to join some of his county team-mates at Devonport Services.
“It is a bit disappointing to lose another player to Devonport Services,” said Tamar Saracens coach Chey Bryce.
“We are also without Mike Cox this week, so we have lost two players who are quite influential in our pack, but we do have James McFarlane returning. He will add a bit of size and bolster our pack a bit.”
Bryce is confident the players can put everything behind them and try and get a big home win over South Molton, who surprisingly lost 13-12 at home to Topsham last Saturday.
“We are looking forward to the weekend,” said Bryce.
“We were quite shocked by their (South Molton’s) result last week. I think they are going to come down all guns blazing. After hearing what happened in our game, I think they are going to be well up for it.
“The fact that Dartmouth have already come down and beat us on our own patch, they are going to fancy their chances. It is going to be a big test for the boys.
“I am hoping our boys front up and meet their players head-on.
“I have heard they are quite a forward-dominant team and I hope our forwards can set a platform. I think our backs will be able to cause them some trouble.
“We are looking forward to it.”
Despite being in different leagues last season, Techs and Totnes met twice in cup competitions. Techs won in the semi-finals of the David Butt Trophy, while Totnes triumphed in the Devon Junior Cup.
The clubs had contrasting fortunes in their opening league fixtures last weekend. Totnes claimed a 25-12 away win at Dartmouth, while Techs slipped to a frustrating 28-20 away loss at Exeter Saracens.
“We played them (Totnes) twice last season and both won one game each,” said Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“We know this is going to be another tough game.
“We just need to start playing for 80 minutes. We have been taking half-an-hour to get into games.
“We were 21-0 down after half-an-hour last week and then it is a massive battle.
“We just need to start better. Our problem all season is that we have been starting too slow. We have tried everything to change it, including different warm-ups etc. I think it just comes down to the players getting mentally focussed.
“When we start playing we are scoring some tries, but we just need to do that from the beginning.
“We have no problem ability-wise, as we have shown we can come back, but if you let teams in this league have the first half-an-hour then they will punish you.
“Last week ended up four tries apiece and if we had just got one conversion we’d have got two bonus points – one did hit the post. But I was not happy last week and that was a game we could have won.”
Forward Danny Bond suffered a hamstring injury in last Saturday’s match and so will miss this weekend’s game. However, Techs hope Dan Bartlett will be fit this week after failing to recover in time for the trip to Exeter and they should also have Matty Simmonds back.
In Devon Two, OPMs will be expected to get off the mark on Saturday when they travel across the Tamar to take on St Columba & Torpoint.
OPMs were disappointed not to return with any points from their trip to promotion-rivals North Tawton last weekend, losing a tight game 22-12.
The Old Boys are set to welcome back speedy winger Martin Skelly, who was unavailable for last Saturday’s game.
Saints, who have been docked five points for failing to fulfil a fixture towards the end of last season, have not been handed an easy start to the 2017/18 campaign. Last week they had to travel to Buckfastleigh, where they lost 69-0. This week they entertain OPMs and next Saturday have to visit Ilfracombe, who were in Devon One last season.
Plympton Victoria will also be expecting a tough test when they host North Tawton at Marsh Mills.
Plym Vic enjoyed a good start last weekend when they beat a makeshift DHSOB side 47-3 at Stonehouse Creek, but will know that North Tawton, keen to make an instant return to Devon One, will be a completely different challenge.
DHSOB, meanwhile, face a tough task to get a full side out to travel to Salcombe on Saturday.
Last weekend the Old Boys boosted their squad with some of their older aged colts. However, the colts have their own match at Honiton on Saturday.
“We will go up with whatever we have got,” said DHSOB’s Mike Freeman. “We do hope to get a full squad.”