IVYBRIDGE are still waiting for their first Devon derby win of the season after narrowly losing 26-20 away at Exmouth on Saturday.
The defeat was their first in three South West Premier League games, but they did at least pick up a bonus point from their trip to the Imperial Ground. They will go into 2018 in 10th position.
Like against Exmouth at Cross-in-Hand in September, Ivybridge led at half-time on Saturday.
They took an early 10-0 lead with a Luke Martell penalty and then an interception converted try by the lively Damon Akerman.
Exmouth did cut the gap to three points before half-time with a converted try by Tom Richards.
A Mantell penalty edged Ivybridge 13-7 ahead before Exmouth came back to take the lead for the first time with a penalty try.
However, the visitors responded with a touch-down by Robin Luscombe to go 20-14 in front, but Exmouth finished strongly and won the match with tries by Lewis Cooper and George Meadows.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services maintained their unbeaten home record with a 24-8 bonus-point win over Torquay Athletic at the Rectory in their final match of 2017.
It was the perfect way for Services to respond to last week’s defeat at St Ives and also went some way for making up for their two-point loss at Torquay at the start of the season.
They will start 2018 in third spot, six points behind leaders St Ives and two behind second-placed St Austell.
“It was a bit of a mud bath,” said Services coach Kieran Leach.” If we knew it was going to be that bad I think we might have gone to Keyham.
“But it was a win and we got the bonus point, which is all that matters.
“It was a tough game and they made us work for all our tries.”
Torquay, with former Plymouth Albion centre Bevon Armitage in their team, came out of the blocks flying and opened the scoring with an unconverted try in the corner, which seemed to wake Services up.
The home team responded quickly when Toby Knowles scored in the corner after some good phase play following a line-out. Matt Anstis converted well from the touchline.
Torquay went back in front when they kicked three points after Services were penalised for swearing.
However, the hosts got on top and regained the lead. Their pack dominated the scrums and they scored a pushover try through Matt Gregory before half-time.
They then scored an almost identical try after the interval, with Gregory again going over from a scrum. Anstis added the conversion.
Services’ forwards really dug deep and impressed in the mud. Joe Daly carried well and made good ground, while Gregory showed he was back to his best after missing the last couple of games.
Ten minutes from time, Devonport got the all-important fourth try when Aaron Webb went over in the corner.
Leach added: “It was a scrappy game and was punctuated by the whistle, but we kept our patience. We needed that fourth try and we just kept going and going and eventually it came.”
SALTASH will go into 2018 as Cornwall/Devon League leaders after turning on the style to beat Plymouth Argaum 52-0 at a dark and wet Bickleigh Down.
The Ashes were unstoppable in the first half, scoring a point a minute to lead 40-0 at the break.
Argaum just had no answer to the pace of the visiting backs in the opening 40 minutes. Every time Saltash got the ball it looked like they would score, either through great passing or the speed of Will Morton and Ryan Cruickshanks.
But after the break, Argaum played smarter. They stopped kicking the ball back to Saltash’s back three and tackled better.
Handling did get tougher as the game went on due to the conditions and Saltash just could not find the final ball in the second half like they did in the first. However, the east Cornwall club still managed two more tries – one at the start of the half and one with the last play of the game.
In the end they scored eight tries in total, with Cruickshanks and Morton scoring twice and James Moriaty, Greg Eatwell, Ollie Mulberry and Kieran Down also touching down. Down also kicked six conversions.
The pick of their tries were the three in the middle of the first half through Eatwell, Morton and Mullberry.
Eatwell’s came after some good passing play across the line, Morton’s came from running the ball back from his own half, while Mulberry’s followed another speedy backs break involving Morton.
Argaum did not really threatened Saltash’s try line, but they did take positives from how they responded in the second half after going in 40-0 down.
“You can see why they (Saltash) are top of the league, running in loads of points, and how they beat Penryn last week,” said Argaum’s Calum Mills.
“Penryn came here and we held them for a long time, but they (Saltash) came here and were running in the tries and off-loading balls even in conditions like that.
“They have a great back three and when we gave them ball they did take us apart, but once we got ourselves together we started slowing them down and bringing the game to our pace.
“We showed them that we can match them in some areas. There was no difference in the physicality.
“And I take my hat off to the guys for the second half. We had a chat at half-time and it was ‘come on boys this is the end of the year, let’s play some rugby and enjoy it’ and we did. We went out for the second half and played with a smile on our faces and started to play some good rugby.”
Plymstock Albion Oaks have ended the year on the back of two wins after they overcame out-of-form Withycombe 28-15 at Horsham Fields.
The victory followed on from last week’s success against the Pirates Amateurs and has renewed Oaks’ hopes of a top six finish.
However, they had to do it the hard way on Saturday after going in at half-time 15-6 down to Withycombe, who have now lost four games in a row.
Plymstock’s only points in the opening 40 minutes came from two Tom West penalties, but Oaks really turned on the style second half to score four tries.
Flanker George Hamblin crossed for two– one from the back of a good maul and the other following a charged down kick – with hooker Sean Wills and lock Andy Porter also touching down.
“It was much-needed and what we wanted,” said Oaks coach Callum Cload.
“We lost three games in a row a few weeks ago and knew as a club that if we kept up that form we were going to be in a really bad place at Christmas. We said before the Pirates game that we needed to get two wins before Christmas and get some momentum to go into the new year and we’ve done that.
“Withycombe might have had a weakened side, but you can’t take anything away from our performance. It was a complete performance.
“From a coaching point of view it is quite nice to see that everything we have done in training is starting to work and click. People are starting to understand what they are doing.
“We knew at half-time we had to put a big performance in and turn the game around and we did.”
There was frustration, however, for Tavistock who lost 34-29 away at Pirates Amateurs.
The match was level with time up on the clock, but the Pirates snatched victory with the last play of the game.
It means Tavistock have still not managed to win on their travels this season.
On Saturday, they made the worst possible starts in Penzance and found themselves trailing 24-7 at half-time, with Martin Budden scoring their only try in the first half.
Pirates then increased their lead to 29-7 before Tavistock, who had beat Lanner 36-0 the previous week, came to life.
Two tries by forward Charlie Charlton, George Hillson and captain Andrew Schuttkacker looked to have secured Tavistock three points.
Their final try came two minutes from time, but agonisingly for them there was still time for Pirates to go up the other end and snatch the win.
“It was a little bit heartbreaking as a draw would have been a fair result,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.
“But we did get two points and it was a really good effort to come back.”
DEVON ONE AND TWO
TAMAR Saracens have moved off the bottom of Devon One after a comprehensive 40-0 home win over Exeter Saracens.
It was the Ernesettle-based club’s second victory in seven days, having got off the mark the previous week with a narrow 16-10 success over Old Techs.
The back-to-back wins will give Sarries hopes that they can stay in. They are now just six points from safety going into the new year.
“The boys played really well,” said coach Chey Bryce. “It was 40-0 and we didn’t get any kicks.
“It was very wet under foot but our forwards were phenomenal. We got a pushover try from a scrum and got turnovers from about seven or eight of their scrums. Line-out wise we were also fantastic and the backs did the simple things well.
Tamar Saracens led 15-0 at the break with Mike Cox scoring twice and Lewis Swatton also going over.
Swatton added another in the second half, with James McFarlane also getting two and Chris Cox also getting on the scoresheet.
Old Techs have replaced Tamar Saracens at the foot of the table after they lost 19-8 away at Dartmouth, who have now won four out of their last five games.
Techs were again left frustrated after leading early in the second half.
They have proved competitive in every match they have played this term but scoring points has been their biggest problem.
They went 7-0 down to a try by Sam Pearson before kicking a penalty before half-time and then going 8-7 up after the interval.
Dartmouth then changed their game and started playing for territory. Eventually their tactics worked with Declan Hammond and Piers Benjamin scoring tries to even deny Techs a bonus point.
In Devon Two, OPMs returned to winning ways with a 36-0 home victory over DHSOB.
DHSOB have struggled for players this season but managed to field their strongest squad of the campaign to date.
OPMs, who had suffered frustrating defeats to Ilfracombe and Buckfastleigh in their previous two games, were always in control and led 26-0 at half-time.
They managed six tries in total, with Billy Garrett and Shaun Grundy both scoring twice, while John Readey and Matt Thompson also crossed the whitewash. Thompson also added three conversions.
Plympton Victoria were frustrated not to get anything out of their game against third-placed Ilfracombe.
The Marsh Mills club were only six points behind going into the final 10 minutes and had hopes of snatching victory, but ended up conceding a try with the last play of the game to lose 26-13 and even miss out on a bonus point.
However, club spokesman Chris Hunt said the team could be proud of their efforts against a side that were in Devon One last season.
“The game was even closer than it looks,” said Hunt. “We just had a mad 10 minutes before the second half and let them run in a couple of tries.
“We then clawed our way back in and then it was just one try in it right at the death.
“We just probably need to learn a bit of game-management.
“With 10 minutes to go we had a bonus point, but the lads, bless them, kept trying to run the ball to try and get that winning try.
“But maybe when they were camped in our 22 we should have cleared our lines and just tried to creep our way out of trouble and at least protect the bonus point. But you can’t fault the guys for wanting to try and go for glory.
“We are much improved. The last time we played them they drubbed us by about 100 points on us
“They certainly knew they had been in a game and they gave us plenty of compliments.
“What didn’t help us was that we were just a little bit too frantic. We made a lot of unforced errors and put pressure on ourselves. Not taking anything away from Ilfracombe as they have got some class backs, but we were probably just a bit too frantic for too much of the game.
“But it was a good game. It got a bit angry at times, but that showed the physicality and how hard the game was being played.
“I am proud of the lads. It was a positive performance. It is starting to come together now. We are looking forward to a three-week rest now.”
St Columba & Torpoint were unable to raise a side to travel to North Tawton.