IVYBRIDGE coach Lewis Paterson is hoping his team can improve their defence as they bid to end a four-game losing streak at Bracknell on Saturday.
The Bridgers have scored 10 tries in their last two games against second-placed Newton Abbot and third-placed Bournemouth, but conceded 13.
Paterson knows his team have to tighten up if they are to starting moving back up the South West Premier League table.
“We are going out and scoring try bonus points, but we have just been shifting too many,” said Paterson. “Our defence has slipped into bad habits.
“We know we can score tries in open play, we’ve done so against Bournemouth and Newton Abbot, but we have just shifted too many points. We just need address that. We just need to go back to basics on our defence. We have worked on it this week.”
He added: “We cannot fault these boys’ attitudes. They are putting a phenomenal amount of effort in at training and no-one has a give-up attitude at this club.
“At this club we thrive of challenges and situations where people doubt us.
“We just want the boys to be rewarded for their hard work.
“We’ll enjoy the trip (to Bracknell). We have to take a bit of pressure of ourselves, but not too much. It is good to have a bit of pressure, but it has to be the right type of pressure.
“We can’t be shifting 40 points. I want us to put pressure on ourselves to defend because we know our attack can win us games.”
Ivybridge are again forced to make a host of changes. Pete Abraham has joined Tom Scoles and Alex Hall on the long-term injury list, while Jordan Anderton, Matt Finn, Justin Rogers, Sam Kingscott and Luke Martell are unavailable this weekend.
But the Cross-in-Hand side do have George Wilson, Hayden Coles and Matt Grieveson back in the squad, while the likes of Jay Geraty, Mitch Pinkus and Jon Morgan return to the starting line-up.
They could also hand debuts to Adam Willow and former Ivybridge Community College pupil Ben King. They have been named on the bench.
“Adam has been around for a long time,” said Paterson. “He’s been a quiet man in the wings really. He has been playing for the second team at full-back, but opportunities have been limited because of the form of our back three, but he is a very, very talented player.
“Ben King is a young lad who turned up a couple of weeks ago. He’s an Exeter University student a back-rower. He’s a very, very good player. It’s fantastic for us to be able to bring him in. He’s a very talented young player who is likely to feature a lot more as the season progresses.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
The two sides sit first and second in the Western Counties West table. Both clubs are on 37 points, but St Austell hold top spot due to one more victory.
Services had been at the summit until drawing 20-20 away at Wadebridge Camels last Saturday.
“It is a huge game,” said Lewis. “They don’t get much bigger.”
“They (St Austell) have been playing well home and away.
“But it’s a home game and we have a sponsors’ day at the club, with free food and beer before the game. That’s for current and potential sponsors, so hopefully we will have a fair old crowd down there on Saturday.”
Lewis had mixed feelings about last week’s draw at Wadebridge.
“I don’t think we have won down there for something like eight to 10 years. We normally get a beating down there,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t say we are happy with a draw, as obviously we wanted a win and felt we had it in us.
“When we did get the ball we played some fantastic stuff, but we just didn’t do it for long enough periods and we let them back into the game.
“It didn’t help that Richard West went off injured after about 50 minutes and then Toby Knowles went off about five minutes later. Then we threw a massive interception try when we had pressure on.
“It was not our day. They played pretty well but we were off the boil a little bit, so I think it was a fair result in the end.”
West, who damaged his ankle last weekend, will need a last fitness test before this weekend’s game.
But Services should have Rhys Williams, Ben McGowan, Jack Martin and Mika Waka back in contention for places.
They have also signed former Westcountry Warriors and University of Plymouth prop Paul Creek.
The ex-Scotland under-18 international could make his debut against St Austell.
Tavvy have a 100 per cent home record but have not had any joy on their travels so far.
And they know it will be extremely tough to put that right this weekend against a Bude side who are also unbeaten on their own patch.
“It is one of the hardest places to go and win,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
“I don’t think I’ve ever got a result there. Personally, I want this win more than any this season.
“It will be a great test for our pack, who have worked hard this season, as I know Bude’s strength is up front.
“Shooie (Andrew Schuttkacker) is back starting and will take over the captaincy from Martin Budden. Between them I am hoping they will continue to lead the pack as they have done so well over the years.
“If there’s ever a game we need 100 per cent confidence it will be this Saturday.”
Kerswill added: “Last season we went into the new year with equal wins and losses. This year I really believe we can better that but it must start with our first victory on the road this Saturday.”
Phil Wilson, Ash Miller and Dylan Penberthy are unavailable for Tavistock this weekend.
Veteran Tom Friend will make his first start of the season, while second team captain Ash Toll is named on the bench after impressing in recent weeks.
The Cornish club sit fifth in the table and only leaders Penryn have won at their place so far this season.
Argaum are desperate for some points after losing their last three matches.
“It is a tough old league,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman.
“But there’s been a lot of positivity in training. We know we are not far off.”
Argaum, like many teams, have struggled for continuity with selection.
Owen Belli broke his hand last weekend against Honiton, while Argaum are also set to be missing Adam Fitzpatrick, Richard Luscombe and Ali Murray for this week’s trip across the Tamar.
Argaum were a bit frustrated last week against Honiton.
On Saturday it will be Plymstock Albion Oaks’ turn to try and overcome fourth-placed Honiton.
Oaks will travel to Allhallows Playing Fields boosted by their 30-17 win over Hayle last Saturday.
Honiton have only lost once at home this season. Their key players are back-row forward Nathan Hannay and Josh Rice.
Third-placed Saltash are also away. They visit 11th-placed Hayle looking for another five points to keep the pressure on leaders Penryn and second-placed Wellington.
Hayle have only won two games, but they have been competitive in most games and drew with Withycombe at home.
DEVON ONE AND TWO
The teams only met on October 14 at Parkway in the semi-finals of the David Butt Memorial Trophy.
Dartmouth won that game 17-14, but they like Tamar Saracens are still waiting for their first win in Devon One.
Saracens lost 42-11 to South Molton last weekend and the previous week their opening game against New Cross was abandoned for fighting.
A Devon RFU disciplinary panel ruled that Sarries have to replay the game with New Cross next weekend. They have also handed both clubs a suspended five point deduction.
Saracens number eight Mike Cox was also handed a two-week ban for picking up a red card.
After a tough couple of weeks, the Ernesettle-based club are hoping they can get their season up and running.
Their first task is to try and wipe out their minus five point deduction for failing to fulfil a fixture at the end of last season.
“We need to get off minus five points,” said coach Chey Bryce.
“Last Saturday was a bit of an embarrassment, especially on our home pitch. The boys have been hurting this week.
“They want to bounce back and put on a performance. Hopefully, they can put their words into action.
“Winning becomes a habit and so does losing. We are in a rut from last season when we lost a lot of games, but, hopefully, we can get out of it and it won’t be the same this season. However, there are no easy games in this league.”
Saracens forward Mark Cioffi has been ruled out for the next eight week with a broken jaw.
As well as him and Mike Cox, Saracens will also be without Scott Sheldon and Chris Cox this week due to a wedding.
Techs have been frustrated to lose to Totnes and Exeter Saracens in their opening two league games.
Against Exeter Saracens they paid for a poor first half and against Totnes last week it was a disappointing second half that cost them.
“All season I had been going on about not starting well, but last week we started really well,” said coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“The first half we played some of our best rugby in a long time. We did not want half-time to come.
“We just seemed to switch off at half-time and in the second half we had three yellow cards.
“I was really gutted last week. It was the same with Exeter Saracens as they were both games we could have won.
“We know New Cross are a very hard side to beat at home. When we have played them in the past they have always been close games. It is another tough game away from home.
“Like I said, I was really pleased with the first half last week and the second half the week before. We now just have to put them together and play a full 80 minutes.
“I am sure it is going to click. It has just been discipline and a lack of concentration with has cost us in the games so far, but that’s not something that can’t be repaired. It’s all there and that’s the frustrating thing as we could have won both games.
“Totnes are an established Devon One side and Exeter Saracens have been in Western Counties West and they know how to play this league. We have to learn that quickly.
“The good thing is we have not been out-played. We have shown we can compete at this level and there have certainly been positives from the last two games.”
Techs are missing a number of players this weekend, including Paul Ansell, who made a surprise return to action last weekend.
OPMs beat Plym Vic 78-0 at home last season, but they will be wary of their visitors this weekend after their encouraging start to the campaign.
The Marsh Mill-based club beat DHSOB 47-3 in their opening match and then last week pushed North Tawton hard. North Tawton, who had beaten OPMs the week before, needed three late tries to win 45-29.
“This weekend will be one of the tougher games of the season against a team I know were gutted they did not get promoted last year,” said Plym Vic team manager Chris Hunt.
“They (OPMs) will be out to put in a good performance. We must play with the same grit, determination and diligence to the game-plan as we have for the last two matches and we have a good chance of getting a return.
“The team has come a long way since the beginning of last season and is starting to gel together and gain confidence in themselves and their team-mates but I know there is yet more achievement to be had out of this group of players.”
OPMs will be keen to build on their 57-0 win over St Columba & Torpoint last weekend.
St Columba have to make the long trip to Ilfracombe on Saturday.
DHSOB are confident they will have a full side available to play unbeaten Buckfastleigh at Stonehouse Creek on Saturday.
The Old Boys were only able to take 11 players up to Salcombe last weekend, but they do have some colts available on Saturday and are hoping they might be able to call on a couple of their Fijians.
“We will get a side out,” said DHSOB director of rugby Mike Freeman. “Hopefully, if we have some colts available we can give them a good game.”