Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEWS: It’s a crucial weekend for Ivybridge, Services, Techs, Sarries and OPMs

IVYBRIDGE will be hoping they can move out of the relegation zone in the South West Premier League when they host Maidenhead at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday (2.30pm).

The match should have been played on January 27 but, like nearly all other games in the area that day, was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Maidenhead, though, were upset by the timing of the postponement and reported Ivybridge for not following the correct protocol.

That lead to the Bridgers having five points deducted, which has dropped them into the bottom three.

It has certainly given Ivybridge plenty of motivation this weekend. They are definitely keen to prove a point to fourth-placed Maidenhead and boost their hopes of staying up.

“It is an eagerly-anticipated game because of all the hiccups that came along the last time we tried to meet and a few of the digs Maidenhead made about ourselves, which have hurt as it was an honest mistake,” said Ivybridge coach Lewis Paterson.

“We are very eager to put things right. We’re looking forward to them coming down and just showing them what we are all about.”

He added: “We are a club that does value the honesty of the game. We don’t pay any of our players, we don’t go chasing ex-Premiership players, have World Cup winners helping out with our training or have Eddie Jones come down to help. We are a very local, proud and passionate club.

“I think everyone in and around Ivybridge are very eager to get behind the team and prove a point, not only by winning but by showing we are a proud, local club who do respect all the values of the game.

“Hopefully, our rugby can do a lot of the talking.”

Ivybridge narrowly lost 17-10 to third-placed Newton Abbot last week. Although they were frustrated to lose, they did take a lot of postivies from the game.

“Newton Abbot are third and are averaging 30 or 40 points a game,” said Paterson. “And it was more of a case of us losing that game. Newton Abbot did not beat us around the park. Yeah, they took their opportunities well, but they came from a couple of mistakes by us.

“We felt a bit hard done by, but it is a game we are taking loads of positives from.  There has been a very good atmosphere at training. I sense a lot of boys want to prove a point to a lot of people.”

Ivybridge will be without the injured Luke Martell, which means Matt Grieveson will return at fly-half. They are also missing Charlie Briant. However, in his absence they are able to welcome back former captain Jordan Anderton (pictured top), who will resume his former centre partnership with Paterson.

Wes Vermigle and Justin Rogers will start in the pack, while Nathan Reeves, Adam Walker and Harrison Legg will be on the bench.

Devonport Services in action against Kingsbridge in October (picture by Mark Andrews)

WESTERN COUNTIES WEST

DEVONPORT Services have a big game away at fifth-placed Kingsbridge on Saturday in Western Counties West.

Services dropped down to third in the table last weekend after narrowly losing 12-8 away at Falmouth.

However, they can move back into second place ahead of St Austell and behind leaders St Ives if they win at High House on Saturday.

But it will not be easy. Kingsbridge have only lost once at home all season – a narrow 14-11 defeat to leaders St Ives in October.

“It was a big game before, but now it is even bigger,” said Services coach Mike Lewis.

“It is our game in hand and if we could get back into second spot then that would be handy. It would put us into a positive position going into the game against St Austell and then game against St Ives.”

He added: “Last Saturday was really unfortunate and we should not be in this scenario. We should be up there competing for top spot now instead of second.

“But we played as individuals last week. They (Falmouth) put us under a lot of pressure at the break downs and we didn’t really cope with it. They just bullied us and instead of playing team patterns we started to play as individuals.

“In the last five minutes we butchered three or four two-on-ones which we should have scored from. We got a bit of white-line fever. Matty Anstis did actually score a try with the last play of the game but, unfortunately, the referee was not in the right position to see it. We essentially won the game but the league does not show that.

“At training we have just revisited what we have to do as a team and why we do certain things and reminded people of the goals we are trying to achieve. Training has been real positive.”

Services have been struggling for front-row players in the last couple of weeks, but they are hoping Jack Martin will be available this week.

Saltash after winning the South West Divisional Vase final last year (picture by Mike Yeats)

RFU SENIOR VASE & CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

SALTASH will be hoping to move another step closer to Twickenham when they head to Gordano for the South West Counties Vase final.

The Ashes won both the South West Counties and South West Divisional Vase finals last season and would no doubt love to do the same again this time around.

However, they will be expecting a tough test against Somerset Premier League leaders Gordano.

The Bristol-based club, whose ground is right next to the M5, have won 15 of their 17 league games this season and scored an impressive 660 points.

Saltash’s record in the Cornwall/Devon League is very similar. They have won 14 of their 17 games, scoring 631 points.

The Ashes are currently third in the table, level on points with second-based Wellington. Both sides, however, have two games in hand on leaders Penryn.

Wellington will play one of their matches in hand on Saturday when they host Plymouth Argaum at the Athletic Ground. If Wellington win they will move to the top of the table.

Argaum are in their best form of the season, winning three of their last four games. Last week they moved up to ninth with a 33-16 win over Hayle.

However, Argaum are struggling for availability for their trip to Somerset.

Forwards Dan James and Mike Hunt, who were influential in their win over Hayle last week, are missing, while Mason Edwards, Jake Turfrey, Adam Fitzpatrick and Dan Smith are also among their absentees for the rearranged game.

Argaum lost 50-0 to Wellington at home earlier in the season, but will be hopeful of doing better this time around.

DEVON ONE

IT IS another crucial weekend for Tamar Saracens and Old Techs as they attempt to avoid the drop from Devon One.

Techs need to beat third-from-bottom Exeter Saracens at home to have any hope of staying up, while Tamar Saracens could move out of the bottom two for the first time this season if they beat New Cross at home.

Both sides will go into their respective matches in confident mood.

Tamar Saracens beat Exeter Saracens 29-15 last weekend in the league and then overcame lower league DHSOB 54-0 on Wednesday night in the Lockie Cup.

James McFarlane, Lee Dolphin, Alex Israel and Tom Rigby were among Sarries’ scorers on Wednesday evening in a match that the referee ended early at the request of the Devon One side, even though DHSOB were happy to continue playing.

“We got a couple of injuries,” said Saracens coach Chey Bryce. “There were hits going in left, right and centre. We have got a busy period and the boys were feeling the strain from the previous Saturday – that was a tough, physical game.

“It was just a case of getting this (the Lockie Cup) game out of the way and done with and move on to Saturday.

“It is going to be a tough game against New Cross. They are going to come at us. They are in the relegation battle with us so I think it is going to be a tough game.”

After last weekend’s win over Exeter, Tamar Saracens, who are just three points from safety with two games in hand, are confident they will stay up now.

Old Techs have a tougher job if they are to avoid the drop. They need to beat Exeter Saracens to give themselves any hope.

They are currently 10 points from safety with three games to play – all against teams just above them.

They certainly go into Saturday’s match at Weston Mill boosted by beating third-placed Dartmouth last weekend.

“That was our best performance of the season,” said Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith. “We deserved to win as we played really well.

“The win has at least made it interesting. We have got three games left and if we are to have any chance of staying up then we’ve got to maybe win all three, but we are still in it.

“We are at home again this Saturday and the last week’s win has given the lads confidence – and that’s what it can come down to sometimes.

“I was really happy for them last week. This season’s not been easy for them but they have stuck at it and continued to keep going.

“I think they are all now looking forward to this week.

“If we continue to play the way we did last week then there is no reason why we can’t get a result. If we could then it would put pressure on the teams above us.”

Techs were boosted ahead of last Saturday’s game by three new signings and some players returning from injury. They could have a couple more key players back this weekend in the form of forwards Bryan Milford (pictured above) and Tony Luxton.

Milford has been out for months after having an operation on his hand, while Luxton dislocated his shoulder in January.

“It is going to be hard to select an 18,” said Bedford-Smith. “It is a shame the season is not a bit longer as we are now getting people back. That was always a concern having the league so compact (November to February).”

DEVON TWO

OPMs will conclude their Devon Two season with a massive match at King George V Playing Fields against North Tawton.

The game will decide who is promoted to Devon One.

North Tawton will arrive as leaders of the division, two points ahead of second-placed Buckfastleigh and four ahead of OPMs.

All three could still fill the top two spots. Buckfastleigh are favourites to be promoted as they travel to bottom side St Columba & Torpoint.

OPMs have the hardest job as they must win, ideally with a bonus point, and deny North Tawton any points.

But the Plymouth side are confident, especially after only conceding one try at home this season – and that was technically an away game that had been switched to Elburton due to the weather.

After getting back into a position to challenge they want to make it tell, especially after losing out last season.

“We have put ourselves in a position we want to be in and it will all hang on this week now,” said captain Henry Matthews.

“The club is really looking forward to it.”

OPMs hope last year’s experience of losing out to Old Techs in the last couple of weeks will help them.

“I think we are a much better team than last year and we know what we have to do,” said Matthews. “

“We were disappointed to lose to them (North Tawton) up there. It was down to our mistakes really. We weren’t very structured that day. They are at the top of the table for a reason but we are confident in what we can do.”

Elsewhere, at Marsh Mills Plympton Victoria will host a DHSOB side still looking for their first win of the season.

The Old Boys, though, have been improving as the season has gone on and are likely to be a much stronger test for Plym Vic than when the sides met at Stonehouse Creek at the start of the season. Plym Vic won that match 47-3

The Old Boys did manage to score a try against OPMs last weekend and also took some positives from Wednesday’s 54-0 Lockie Cup defeat to Tamar Saracens, who had beaten them 105-15 in the David Butt Trophy.

“The first 20 minutes on Wednesday was a good contest,” said DHSOB’s Mike Freeman. “It was even at 0-0 but then they scored a pretty good try under the posts. Then we had a sin-binning and lost a bit of shape and they scored five tries, which was sad. They converted every single one and we didn’t deserve to go in 40-odd nil down.

“But we came back in the second half and held them. There was just one disputed try in the corner, which looked a knock on.

“But considering the season we have had it was just an amazing achievement we got the players out to honour the competition.

“Hopefully, most of the guys who played on Wednesday will be available on Saturday and we can try and pick the bones out of the rest of the season. We are trying to encourage more colts to play. Four played on Wednesday.

“It was a good effort against a strong side.”

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