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RUGBY REPORTS: Ivybridge, Services, Argaum and Saltash all start 2018 with wins

IVYBRIDGE ran in six tries as they kicked off 2018 in fine style with a 39-14 victory over struggling Lydney at Cross-in-Hand.

Four of their touch-downs came in the first half, with centre Charlie Briant leading the way by scoring two and making one.

However, it was Ivybridge’s scrum that provided the platform for them. Over the years Lydney have built a reputation for strong forward play, but that was not on show at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.

Time after time, Ivybridge pushed their visitors off scrums. Unfortunately that advantage was taken away from the Devon side six minutes into the second half when the game went to uncontested scrums. The hosts, though, still managed two more tries as they moved up to ninth in the South West Premier League table.

“It was really good,” said Ivybridge coach Lewis Paterson. “We had to shuffle the team around late on with Robin (Luscombe) being quite ill. We had to start Marcus (Prout) at number eight and I came on to the bench and came on earlier than expected.

“But it was a really good team performance. When you shuffle the squad around like that it is important that everyone just buys into the principle of how we play and how we exit and we did that really well.

“It was unfortunate the game went to uncontested scrums, as we were clearly really dominant there, but I don’t think it affected how we were playing too much.”

Luke Martell gave them the lead with a penalty on 10 minutes before Briant scored his first try straight from the restart with a fine individual effort from 30 metres. Martell added the conversion to make it 10-0.

But almost straight away Ivybridge conceded a sloppy try when they failed to deal with a clearing kick forward by Lydney and Phil Cowburn scored under the posts for the visitors and Dave O’Hagan converted.

Seven minutes later the hosts increased their lead with a try in the left corner by Damon Akerman after Briant put him in after Ivybridge had take a quick tap penalty. That made it 15-7.

Lydney, though, hit back and closed the gap to just one point with a converted try by Reuben Haile.

But Ivybridge finished the half strongly. Briant got his second try on 32 minutes before Billy Pinkus had one disallowed after the home team had pushed Lydney off a scrum. But the referee went back for a penalty and Ivybridge opted for a scrum and they pushed their visitors back 15 metres for replacement number eight Paterson to touch the ball down and give his side a 25-14 half-time lead.

Within six minutes of the second half that had become 32-14 when Billy Pinkus scored in the right corner and his younger brother, Mitch, brilliantly converted from the touchline.

In the final minute of normal time, prop Matt Finn rounded off the scoring with a try on the right which Mitch Pinkus again converted.

WESTERN COUNTIES WEST

DEVONPORT Services have moved back into the top two of Western Counties West with an impressive 47-17 away victory at Truro.

It was Services’ first win on their travels since the start of October and the most points they had scored in a league match this season.

What was also impressive is that they included three colts in their squad on Saturday. Harry Groves and Tommy Pullinger were handed first starts, while Liam Jarvis came on as a replacement.

They scored seven tries down in Cornwall. However, it did take them a quarter-of-an-hour to get the first which came from full-back Ben Wadham, who linked well with debutant Groves. Richard West added the conversion before Truro kicked a penalty to close the gap to 7-3.

On 20 minutes, Services stole a line-out and after a couple of phases, Wadham added a second try to make it 12-3.

The visitors stole another line-out and after some more good play, Jason Stead crossed the whitewash under the posts for an easy conversion for West.

Truro cut the gap with a converted try, but just before half-time, Services added a fourth try when West took a quick a tap penalty and beat a couple of players before putting Stead in for another score. West converted to give Devonport a 26-10 lead at the break.

The visitors had to defend hard for the first 20 minutes of the second half. Eventually they had Joe Daley sin-binned and while he was off Truro scored their second try of the day.

But Devonport finished strongly and scored three tries in the last 12 minutes. Scrum-half Brandon Andrews got the first of those after an earlier chip by West and a good catch by Pullinger.

Their next try was the best of the afternoon and was started on their own line and finished off by Callum Perkins.

The final effort came in the dying seconds when replacement prop Charles Horn scored from 22 metres after some good play by Aaron Webb.

“It was a good start to the year – scoring seven tries away from home against a good team,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach.

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

TAVISTOCK must be fed up of facing their closest neighbours Plymouth Argaum in the Cornwall/Devon League.

Since Argaum came into the division they have never lost to Tavistock and that record continued on Saturday at Sandy Park where the visitors triumphed 12-5.

It was only Tavistock’s second home league defeat of the season and has massively boosted Argaum’s hopes of staying up.

The Bickleigh Down club were always targeting the second half of the campaign when they knew they would have players returning from injury.

On Saturday they were able to welcome back the versatile Dan James after 16 months out, Mason Edwards, John Fulton and Jake Turfrey, who took over at fly-half due to a serious injury to Al Murray.

James has played all over the park but made his comeback from an ACL injury at hooker, forming an impressive front-row with Edwards and stand-in prop Ryan Chivers.

Edwards scored both Argaum’s tries, with Aidan Mason collecting Tavistock’s only points.

Argaum coach Mark Sullivan was delighted with the win, which has moved his side six points clear of the relegation zone and within seven points of eighth-placed Tavistock.

“It was a really good result for the team,” said Sullivan. “I’m not sure how many games they (Tavistock) have lost at home but it’s not that many.

“We had some people come back, like Dan James, who played really well, and Mason Edwards, who scored two tries.

“We had a team that potentially could function well, but they hadn’t played together this season. However, we were all over them. Our scrum and line-out went well in the first half when we played against the wind.

“They got a try against the run of play, but we came back. Second half we played with the wind, but the team frustrated me because they didn’t use it like they should have, so we put more pressure on ourselves than we should have. However, our defence was really good and we were really strong in the contact area.

“Overall the team worked well with new people in key positions. The effort and attitude from everyone was immense.”

Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill was very frustrated after the defeat, having lost 10-5 to Argaum away earlier in the season.

“It was almost a mirror performance of the away game,” said Kerswill. “We defended most of the first half, but did it well.

“We struggled to keep hold of the ball with conditions tricky. We defended a long period on our own line only to exit and score from a resulting lineout and well-constructed backs move. But Argaum hit back just before half-time.

“Second half was very scrappy, muddy and frustrating. As expected they piled numbers into breakdowns and we were naive in countering it. When they had the ball they killed the contest and when we had it we didn’t have the aggression to keep it.”

Saltash continue to set the pace at the top of the division. They got the new year under way with a 39-10 home win over Plymstock Albion Oaks.

There were positives for Oaks but they have suffered a blow over the Christmas period by losing five points for playing colt Elliott Hill in their defeat against Lanner in November.

Hill has been at Oaks for years, but was only registered for the colts team and not the seniors. It means Oaks have dropped down to 10th in the standings, three points behind Tavistock and only four ahead of Argaum.

Saltash, meanwhile, are three points clear at the top of the table. They and Wellington, who beat third-placed Penryn on Saturday, are beginning to open a bit of a gap on the rest.

Will Morton was again key to Saltash’s success at the weekend. He scored a hat-trick of tries, including two in the first 20 minutes.

The Ashes were 22-0 up by the 35th minute with flanker Lewis Wells and Kieran Down also touching down. But just before the break, Oaks closed the gap with a score by Brett Tunnicliffe.

The visitors continued where they left off after the interval and after some good pressure added a second try courtesy of forward Tim Coats.

But, as so many teams have found out this season, Saltash are dangerous in the final quarter and they ran in three late tries through back three players Ryan Cruickshanks, Morton and James Moriaty.

“The game ebbed and flowed,” said Oaks coach Callum Cload. “For the first 20-30 minutes we were just defending for our lives. We didn’t really get the ball at all. But second half we camped in their 22, but just could not get over the line.

“Then in the last 20, Saltash turned up again and Will Morton and players like that really showed their class. They have got that quality which is a bit above this league.”

Cload admits the points deduction is a blow for Oaks.

“We really need to start putting performances in again,” he said. “All that work we did before Christmas has been taken away from us.”

DEVON ONE AND TWO

TAMAR Saracens’ mini winning run came to an end at new Devon One leaders South Molton.

Sarries had won their two matches before Christmas but were beaten 45-8 away on Saturday.

They were in the game until 15 minutes to go. They had trailed 17-3 at half-time, with Lewis Swatton kicking their only points in the opening 40 minutes.

But on a horrible pitch they then closed the gap to 17-8 with a try by James McFarlane.

However, South Molton’s strength told in the closing stages and they scored four late tries. It was the second time this season the David Butt Trophy winners had put more than 40 points on Sarries.

“The scoreline didn’t really reflect the game,” said Tamar Saracens coach Chey Bryce, who delayed his comeback from a knee injury.

“They are a good side, but we had them on the ropes at about 60 minutes.

“Yet they weathered the storm quite well and we just couldn’t quite finish off. They gave away a lot of penalties and we were a bit unlucky not to capitalise and put them under even more pressure.”

Old Techs’ match at Totnes was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

The Devon Two matches between OPMs and St Columba/Torpoint and DHSOB and Salcombe were also victims of the weather.

Plympton Victoria did travel to leaders North Tawton, even though the game was given as a home walkover.

Plym Vic only had 12 players and so they talked to North Tawton beforehand and they agreed to play a friendly, with the Plymouth side borrowing some players to make a 15.  They lost 40-7 but there were some positives in their display against the unbeaten leaders.

“Under the new South West directives for level eight and below, if you are struggling to field a team you can change it to a friendly,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “It is registered as a walkover and the other club get the points, but, more importantly, you don’t get docked any.

“It is a good policy as it means you can get other people in and have a game of rugby. Otherwise what would have happened is we would have gone up with 12 and probably lasted about 10 minutes before somebody was injured and that would have been the game over and a waste of everyone’s time.”

He added: “In terms of the game, we were late off the bus. They ran in two quick tries, one an intercept, but the second half was a lot better. I think we won the second half 7-5.

“From our perspective we sorted ourselves out and played some half decent rugby and stopped them running away with it.

“But at the end of the day it was a friendly. It was a good run out and everyone got to stretch their legs. North Tawton had a home game and they got the points out of it.”

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