IVYBRIDGE’S disappointing home form continued on Saturday when they were beaten 32-22 by Weston-super-Mare at Cross-in-Hand in the South West Premier League.
The Bridgers have so far only tasted victory once on their own soil this term, with three of their four wins coming on their travels.
They did make a good start on Saturday against Weston and took the lead with a Billy Pinkus try in the corner.
But Weston hit back to go 15-5 up before Ivybridge closed the gap with a Damon Akerman touch-down.
However, when the Bridgers were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes, their visitors took advantage to pull clear.
Luke Martell kicked a penalty and Lewis Paterson added a third try, but it was not enough for Ivybridge to even pick up a bonus point.
The result means they stay in the bottom three, with a trip to Camborne to come next week.
“It was quite an even game,” said Ivybridge secretary John Belcher. “We had some good periods of play when we attacked well, but they took their points and we didn’t.
“We were beaten up front really. They scored two catch-and-drive tries and one from a scrum. They did carry well.
“Differences are small in this league and it is about taking opportunities when they arrive and we haven’t always been doing that.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services have lost top spot in Western Counties West after slipping to a 26-24 defeat at bottom three side Sidmouth.
Services were brought well-and-truly down to earth after their 67-13 cup win over Paignton the week before.
Coach Mike Lewis had warned his team about complacency and underestimating Sidmouth, who went into Saturday’s match on the back of three successive wins.
But for the second time this season, Services lost an away game they should have won by two points. Their only other defeat this term had come in the second match of the campaign when they went down 36-34 to mid-table Torquay.
“I think it was the mental approach with us being top of the league and the boys seeing them second-from-bottom,” said Lewis. “I don’t think they recognised that they had won their last three games and have been playing quite well recently.
“I think that was just the main issue. We talked about it after the game and we may have been the better team in terms of quality, but if you don’t play with the top two inches you are not going to be the winner at the end of the game.”
He added: “In the last three minutes we really tried hard, but the rest of the game it was like the players just felt they were going to win it.
“It does remind us of that Torquay game and that’s the most frustrating part. At half-time we said we didn’t want to be flat as it could cost us the game and the league. It could be just one game that could cost us.
“We are better than we showed on Saturday, but at the same time Sidmouth deserved the win. They wanted it more and had more desire. They were better than us on the day.”
Services did out-score Sidmouth three tries to two, but that counted for nothing at the end.
The visitors did go 5-0 ahead early with a try by Ben McGowan, but Sidmouth hit back with a converted try before McGowan added a second to edge Services back in front.
Sidmouth responded with a penalty and a converted try to go 17-10 ahead before Andy Pond pulled that back to 17-15 at the break with Devonport’s third touch-down.
The second half was a penalty battle, with both sides kicking three each, but Services were never able to get ahead.
Saltash claimed an impressive 39-22 win over fourth-placed Honiton to stay in second spot in the Cornwall/Devon League.
The race for promotion is beginning to look like a three-horse race between Penryn, Wellington and the Ashes.
Those three sides are already seven points clear of fourth and 11 points ahead of fifth-placed Lanner.
Honiton took an early lead with a penalty before Kieran Down kicked one of his own to level the scores.
The Ashes then stamped their authority on the game, with left wing Sam Snell scoring two tries.
The first came from a break from full-back Ryan Cruickshanks, with flanker Lewis Wells and Cruicksanks helping to make the second.
But Honiton hit back with a catch-and-drive try by Sam Coffey.
However, almost from the re-start the hosts re-established the advantage with a well-taken try from centre Will Morton after a fine break from wing James Moriarty. That put the Ashes 20-8 up at half-time lead.
After the interval, Saltash went 27-8 ahead when Cruickshanks scored following a scrum and Downs converted.
On 60 minutes they put the game well-truly away from Honiton with another converted try through lock Kyle Felton.
Honiton did finally respond with a converted try by prop Will Goulden, but Saltash added another score themselves when scrum-half Olly Mulberry crossed the whitewash.
The visitors, though, had the final word when former Leeds and Jersey lock Nathan Hannay scored.
Saltash were the only Plymouth Combination side to win the Cornwall/Devon League.
Plymouth Argaum have now lost their last five matches, but coach Mark Sullivan is confident his side’s fortunes are going to change soon after an encouraging performance in their 42-0 home defeat to unbeaten leaders Penryn.
Argaum, who have now fallen into the bottom three, frustrated Penryn for nearly all the first half on Saturday. It took the Cornish club 24 minutes to score their first try courtesy of Adam Hughes after the home team had missed a penalty.
Al Murray had another failed penalty attempt after that and it looked like the half would end 7-0, but, crucially, Penryn scored two tries from line-outs in injury-time through Kirk Oldfield and Hughes to take a flattering 21-0 lead at the break.
Full-back Kyle Bradley, winger James Salisbury and Cornwall forward Grant Randlesome added further tries after the break. Cornwall player Mitch Vague managed to convert all the tries.
Argaum finished on the attack and Sullivan was frustrated his team did not get anything for their efforts.
“That was the best game I have seen them play all season,” insisted the Argaum coach afterwards.
“We played with real determination and I think everyone brought what I have been looking for over the season to the pitch. Our scrummaging and line-out was functioning and they really had to work hard.
“It was 0-0 for about 25 minutes and then they got a push-over try from a line-out. If you take out those three driving maul tries out, then it was really, really close.
“They (Penryn) really had to work hard and in the last minutes we finished on top, playing our game, and were actually pushing them back.
“I am disappointed for the lads that the score didn’t reflect the game properly, but I cannot fault the performance they gave.
“They (Penryn) came here, top of the table, and thinking they were going to walk all over us. The score may look like it, but it was not that way at all.”
Plymstock Albion Oaks were also disappointed to lose 26-10 at home to fifth-placed Lanner.
It was their first home defeat since Saltash beat them in September.
“It was a game of pure frustration,” said player-coach Callum Cload.
“We dominated possession and territory but again lacked the clinical edge and gave away silly penalties etc. Three of Lanner’s tries came from our three worst mistakes of the season, with myself being at the centre of one.
“It was all down to handling and poor decision-making. We were the masterminds of our own downfall.”
Oaks dominated the first half but Lanner took a 14-3 lead thanks to converted tries by Dean Symons and Ryan Thomas.
Oaks’ first half points came from a Matt Neyle-Opie penalty. The hosts did cut the gap to 14-10 straight after the interval with a converted Al Broughton try.
But they were unable to build on that and poor handling by the home side led to Levi Webster and Robbie Kessell scoring tries for Lanner to secure them the bonus-point win.
Tavistock’s unbeaten home record in the league came to an end when they lost 19-5 to Hayle at Sandy Park.
The Cornish side had not won on their travels but they kept the ball tight and defended well against a Tavistock side who were missing a host of players.
Hayle’s tactics worked and they out-scored Tavvy three tries to one to move out of the bottom three.
THERE was also home frustration in Devon One, with Old Techs and Tamar Saracens both losing on their own pitches.
Techs suffered a 38-14 loss at the hands of unbeaten league leaders Topsham, while Saracens were beaten 24-15 by Totnes.
Topsham arrived at Weston Mill having scored 45 points against Totnes in their last game and 79 against Dartmouth in their match before that.
But Techs gave them a bit of a fright when they came back from 17-0 down at the break to close to within three points early in the second period.
Matt Simmonds scored a try under the posts, which Paul Ansell converted, and then Billy Evans, playing at flanker, crossed for their second, which Ansell also converted.
The Plymouth side were on top at that point but it went wrong for them in the final 20 minutes.
“We were 17-0 down at half-time but we got it back to 17-14 and we were all over them,” said Techs chairman David Evans. “We could have won it, which is what is so frustrating, but they rallied and scored a few tries.
“They (Topsham) are a good side and their backs are very good, but I think the scoreline was really flattering.
“We really did play well for 60 minutes. It was just the last 20 minutes when they got three tries, including a penalty try for a high tackle.
“It is frustrating as that’s our fourth game and we have not won any, but could have done and we have not been hammered by anyone.
“We just have to keep training and keep our discipline. Our discipline was good for most of the game but just at the end we let it slip a bit.
“But there were a lot of positives from our performance.”
Tamar Saracens were also frustrated not to pick up any points against third-placed Totnes in the Parkway mud.
Sarries, missing a host of players, dominated the opening period but their only reward was a Lewis Swatton penalty.
Gradually Totnes got into the match and they went in front with a try by James Ruddock, which Jamie Michelmore converted.
The visitors then added a second try when Sarries failed to gather a clearing kick and Michelmore picked up the loose ball and scored to make it 14-3.
The hosts, though, did respond with a try by winger Jamie Lavill-Harris, which Swatton converted, to make it 14-10.
But Totnes scored a crucial try just before half-time through Alex Percival to go 11 points ahead.
They also added a penalty after the interval before Sarries came to life again.
The home team finished strongly with Mix Cox cutting the gap with a try, but they could not even manage a bonus point with the game ending a couple of minutes early after two players clashed heads.
PLYMPTON Victoria claimed their biggest league win in years with a 43-0 away success at St Columba & Torpoint.
Sam Stockdale led the way for them again with a hat-trick of tries, with their other touch-downs coming from Jayson Cleverley, Alan Dickens, Nathan Couzens and Oliver Ayers. Sam Wilmington added four conversions.
“It is one of the best league wins we have had in a long while,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt, whose side had lost at Defiance Field in the David Butt Trophy.
“It has always been a bit nip-and-tuck with Torpoint. The last game we played against them I think we put three tries on then and thought fantastic we’ve done this, but they came back strong at us and we couldn’t respond.
“But this game we managed to keep the pressure up all the way through.
“For me the most pleasing bit of the day was the nil. For a team like us, who leak tries like no tomorrow, to keep a clean sheet in a competitive game was really good.
“It was a good all-round performance from everyone.”
OPMs have temporarily moved to the top of the division after they beat Salcombe 36-3 away and Buckfastleigh’s game with North Tawton was abandoned due to a serious injury.
Martin Skelly was again in top try-scoring form for the OPMs. He finished the day with a hat-trick to take his tally to 10 in three league matches this season.
OPMs were only 10-3 up at the break with Matt Naylor scoring their opening try before Skelly got his first of the afternoon.
However, after the interval, Skelly added his second before the Old Boys were awarded a penalty try following a good maul. Skelly completed his hat-trick before fellow winger Shaun Grundy went over.
“We are really pleased with the result,” said OPM captain Henry Matthews, who was unfortunate to have a second half try disallowed.
“They (Salcombe) had quite a strong side out, but we were really happy with our performance.
“We wanted to make a bit of a statement to the league and hopefully we have done that.”
DHSOB did manage to get a team together to make the long trip to Ilfracombe, where they lost 43-0.
Director of rugby Mike Freeman said: “The boys did extremely well.
“The biggest achievement was getting a full team up there. Six colts made their debuts.
“There were problems with traffic on the way there so the team didn’t have time to warm-up and let three tries in the first six or seven minutes, but for the remainder of the half they produced an excellent performance.
“It was just the start and the end of the game that was disappointing, but to go up to Ilfracombe with a you side and make them work so hard was a credit to everyone.”