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RUGBY REPORTS: Ivybridge snatch late derby draw, while Tamar Saracens upset title-chasers

Action from Tamar Saracens’ muddy match with Topsham at the Parkway

SOUTH WEST PREMIER

BILLY PINKUS scored a last-gasp try, which his younger brother, Mitch, brilliantly converted from the touchline, to earn Ivybridge a 27-27 draw at Devon rivals Brixham.

The Bridgers had been staring another Devon derby defeat in the face when they found themselves 15-3 down at half-time and then 27-20 behind with time up on the clock.

But with the last play of the game they managed to get the ball out to Billy Pinkus who dotted down in the corner.

The pressure was then really on his 19-year-old sibling to make the conversion. Despite the tough angle and the conditions, the Devon under-20 captain managed to do just that to secure his team two valuable points.

“Mitch really kept his cool and nailed the kick to draw the game,” said player-coach Lewis Paterson. “Full credit to him, he did have his kicking boots on and he showed nerves of steel to kick that in a big Devon derby.”

Paterson added:  “I was happy with the result. It felt like a win, considering we had been behind for most of the game.

“At 15-3 they had a big lead, but there was no sense of panic from our boys. We didn’t go chasing the game.

“We have got injuries and we have had to shuffle a bit. Brixham had a strong side out with a very big pack and they did their things well.

“Yet the game could have gone either way. A couple of silly mistakes by us cost us not just points but a lot of field position. We were also ill-disciplined – we gave away a lot of penalties – which killed our game at bit.

“But, like I said, it did feel like a bit of a win for us coming away with a draw, but they (Brixham) did get four tries so they got three points and we got two. But two points is still good for us considering the pressure in the table.”

He added: “Brixham will probably feel a bit gutted having let a lead slip, particularly at home.

“But I was really, really chuffed with our boys in terms of their effort, attitude and heart as they really stuck at it.

“We just kept our cool. We were in their 22, seven points down, and we managed to chuck it wide and score a try.  We were calm and collected.”

Tom Putt, Russell Morris, Sam Thomas and Koree Britton had scored tries for Brixham, with Putt kicking the rest of their points.

All but three of Ivybridge’s points came in the second half. Charlie Briant scored their first try, with Hayden Coles adding a second before Billy Pinkus’ late effort. Mitch Pinkus converted all three tries and also added two penalties – one in each half.

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

THE Cornwall/Devon League title race looks like it is going to go right down the wire after Wellington narrowly edged out Saltash 17-13 in Somerset.

Wellington’s win means they have overtaken the Ashes in the table, courtesy of number of wins.

Both clubs are on exactly the same number of points – 68 after 16 games – and sit second and third in the table.

Penryn currently lead the standings by four points, but they have played two games more.

Wellington, unbeaten since September, have now played all their major rivals twice and six out of their remaining 10 games are at home where they are unbeaten.

Saltash still have to play Penryn away on April 14 which looks like it could be a crucial game in the race for the top two spots.

Saturday’s match between Saltash and Wellington was as close and nerve-wracking as everyone expected.

The Ashes took a 13-3 lead at their rivals, but Wellington, who were in Western Counties West last season, hit back.

In front of a large crowd at the Athletic Ground, scrum-half Olly Mulberry gave Saltash the lead when he dived over from close range after pressure from a five-metre scrum.

The hosts closed the gap to 5-3 with a penalty from full-back Alex Davey on 30 minutes.

But Saltash moved 10 points ahead before half-time with a Kieran Down penalty closely followed by a try by flanker Phil Eatwell.

Wellington, though, sprung into life after the break and after a number of strong runs into Saltash territory, number eight Chris Kitto crossed the whitewash and Davey added the conversion.

That was quickly followed by a penalty try after Saltash were penalised at a scrum. That put Wellington in front for the first time with 60 minutes on the clock.

Both sides tried everything in the final 20 minutes, but defences were on top. Saltash had a couple of chances late on but Wellington hung on.

There was little joy for the Plymouth Combination sides in the Cornwall/Devon League this weekend.

Tavistock’s wait for a first away win this season and a first victory in 2018 continues after they were beaten 7-5 in poor conditions at bottom side Torrington.

The difference between Tavistock’s home and away form is quite eye-catching. They have won five out of their seven league games at Sandy Park, but not won on their travels.

In terrible conditions at Donnacroft Playing Fields, ninth-placed Tavistock had their chances to pick up four points but didn’t take them.

Both side managed just one try, with Mark Friend scoring for the visitors, but Torrington converted their touch-down to win.

Afterwards Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill said: “They (Torrington) played the slope better.

“We missed out on four points but we played some good rugby in horrid conditions.

“Mark Friend got the first try after good interplay in midfield.

“Perhaps we missed a couple of personnel but ultimately we had a young team that gave their all.”

There was also disappointed for Plymouth Argaum, who dropped down to 11th after losing 27-9 away at fifth-placed Bude.

Argaum always knew it would be tough at the north Cornwall club, who were in Western Counties West last season. And it did not get any easier with a biting strong wind, plus spells of rain and hail.

Argaum had the wind in their favour first half and made a great start. They went 6-0 up after just six minutes with two Jake Turfrey penalties.

But gradually Bude’s impressive pack got on top and the hosts started to control the game.

Their forwards produced a great 40-metre drive that resulted in Jason Bolt scoring for them to reduce the gap to one point.

They then went 10-6 up with an individual try by Eddie Hilliam-Cook

Turfrey reduced the gap with another penalty, before winger Alex Rakhshani benefitted from good work by Hilliam-Cook and Joe Wilson to score a third try for Bude.

After the break the home team added two more in the opening 15 minutes through the impressive Hilliam-Cook and Ollie Denford after Bude had won a scrum against the head.

Plymstock Albion Oaks‘ game at Wessex was postponed due to the weather, as was Devonport Services‘ Western Counties West clash at Kingsbridge.

DEVON ONE

CHEY Bryce scored a try within minutes of his long-awaited return to action following an ACL operation as Tamar Saracens stunned second-placed Topsham at Parkway on Saturday.

Saracens totally out-played Topsham in poor conditions and were leading 19-0 when the referee decided to end the game early due to the state of the pitch.

Both sets of players had seemed happy to continue, with title-chasing Topsham hoping to somehow mount a comeback and Saracens hoping for a vital bonus point to help them in their fight to avoid relegation.

The referee insisted 62 minutes had been played, which should mean the result stands. However, Topsham didn’t think the match had reached the hour-mark, which led to some controversy. They had also been unhappy about playing on the pitch in the first place.

It did not look likely that Topsham would come back to win the game – they had looked second best all afternoon and had not had one meaningful attack. Saracens certainly might have scored a fourth try, but no-one will ever know, and four points for the victory could be invaluable to them, especially as third-from-bottom Exeter Saracens won.

Topsham, who going into Saturday’s game had only been beaten once in the league this season, said immediately after the match that they would be appealing, but it remains to see if they will or whether it will get them anywhere.

It was a shame the match ended in such controversy as it took the headlines away from a hugely impressive display by Saracens.

They led 12-0 at half-time and it could easily have been 22-0. They were held up over the line in the fifth minute and they had a try disallowed from the resultant five-metre scrum.

They came close again in the 18th minute before they finally did get the try they threatened after former Devon hooker Bryce had come on to the field for his long-awaited return to action.

He had started as a replacement but came on at the 20-minute mark and had scored from close range within 10 minutes.

Four minutes later, Saracens added a second try when prop James McFarlane showed his power to run at the Topsham defence and manage to score by touching the post. Scott Sheldon added the conversion to make it 12-0.

Nine minutes into the second half, Mike Cox went over for Sarries’ third try from a good catch-and-drive move. Sheldon again converted before the referee called time on the match.

Player-coach Bryce was certainly happy with his side’s performance and the fact that he also managed to get on the field for a few minutes after so long out of the game.

“We knew we could beat them up front and the conditions played into our hands a little bit,” said Bryce.

“It was also nice to get on the pitch myself and have a bit of a run around and finish it off with a try.

“It was just good to get a bit of game time and put a couple of hits in.”

When asked if he was happy the game ended early, Bryce said: “Not really. The referee was being assessed and I spoke to the assessor before the game as they (Topsham) were moaning straight away that the pitch was unplayable. The assessor said that if the scrums were unsafe we could still play but go to uncontested scrums.

“But I think though the referee wanted to just get through to 60 minutes and call it. The pitch has taken a bit of a battering and after 60 minutes the result stands.

“But it would have been nice to have played the extra few minutes so we could have got the five points as I think we would have scored the fourth try, but it is what it is.

“I think they (Topsham) realised we were the dominant side and I think their players seemed to think the result will stand, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

With Tamar Saracens and Exeter Saracens both winning, it is looking less likely Old Techs will survive. Their match at Totnes was once again postponed. They are due to play Tamar Saracens next week in a big game at the Parkway – providing the pitch has recovered.

In Devon Two, OPMs were given a home walkover by St Columba & Torpoint.

The Saints only had 12 players but had intended to play OPMs in a ‘friendly’ match at Brickfields, but that idea ended due to an ill referee.  St Columba, though, should avoid a points deduction having turned up to play a game of some description.

OPMs got the five points, as the walkover had already been agreed, which, with North Tawton beating Buckfastleigh away, has really opened up the title race.

North Tawton are top, two points ahead of Buckfastleigh and four ahead of OPMs, who they still have to visit.

DHSOB’s game with Salcombe was postponed due to the bad weather, as was Plympton Victoria’s Ellis Trophy match against University of Plymouth IV.

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