IVYBRIDGE could move up the South West Premier League table on Saturday if they beat Bracknell at Cross-in-Hand.
Bracknell are just one place and three points ahead of 10th-placed Ivybridge, who have only lost twice since Christmas.
The Bridgers did beat Bracknell 25-16 away in November and would love to complete the double over the Berkshire club.
“We went up to Bracknell with a really scratch side, but came away with a massive victory,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson.
“It would be nice for us to get another league double – that’s got to be the goal. We can’t focus too much on trying to climb up the table – we have to set little targets, like getting a league double and winning at home. Those are little things that will build into a bigger picture.
“We’ve had a really good build up to the game and we are looking to build on home momentum.
“We have only lost to Newton Abbot, who are in the top three, at home this side of the year. We have put in some good performances and we are going to have a really hungry side out.
“We are itching to get back out of the pitch.”
Ivybridge have not played since beating play-off chasing Maidenhead 49-26 two weeks ago.
They are going to be without a host of players, particularly in the backs, where Paterson, Matt Grieveson, Luke Martell, Jay Toogood and Harrison Legg are all unavailable this week. They are also still without long-term absentees Tom Scoles and Damon Akerman.
The pack is likely to be unchanged, with Matt Finn and Jamie Tripcony still missing.
However, in the backs Jordan Anderton and Charlie Briant are available, while Hayden Coles is set to come in on the wing and Mitch Pinkus is in line to get a start in his favourite fly-half position.
“It is a winnable game, even though we are missing players,” said Paterson. “We have a no excuse culture at this club.
“We will still have a good side out. We have a really strong pack and an expressive, fast backline.”
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services could take a massive step towards securing a play-off spot in Western Counties West if they could beat St Austell away on Saturday.
Services currently sit second, three points ahead of St Austell, but have played a game more.
Whoever wins on Saturday will be favourite to seal runners-up spot behind St Ives.
However, Devonport coach Mike Lewis is refusing to describe this weekend’s game as a season-defining clash.
“We haven’t said that,” said Lewis. “That would put too much pressure on the boys to talk like that. They (St Austell) have slipped up a couple of times and so have we against teams lower in the table.
“After this game lots could still happen. Both clubs have tough run-ins, to be fair, with games against teams near the top or who are in-form.
“However, at the same time, we do recognise the importance of Saturday’s game.”
Services, who beat St Austell 27-12 at home in November, got their promotion hopes back on track last weekend by beating fifth-placed Wadebridge 28-20 at home.
“We have talked recently about keeping the scoreboard ticking,” said Lewis. “And we did that a little bit more last weekend by kicking for goal. We kicked a couple of penalties that brought us level with them and that gave us momentum to go on and win the game.
“It was a tight match and they were good but I think we just wanted it that little bit more at the end.”
Service, though, are again forced to change their team around.
This weekend they have unavailability issues in their backs, with Rhys Williams away with the Royal Navy, Richard West and Callum Perkins also absent and Ben Wadham injured.
However, they hope to have Joe Wyatt and Rob Ede available for selection.
Despite availability issues they have decided to let youngsters like Liam Jarvis and Tommy Pullinger play for the colts side.
“The colts have a semi-final against Exeter Saracens,” said Lewis. “We said at the start of the season we would not hinder any colts games by taking players away, even if we really needed them.
“They have a group bond and we want them to be successful and we want them to come through as a collective.”
The Ashes will play two home league games in two days to make up for previously postponed fixtures and their forthcoming RFU Senior Vase quarter-final match.
It means they have a chance to leapfrog above both Penryn and Wellington and go to the top of the table if they were to beat Hayle on Saturday at Moorlands Lane and then Torrington on Sunday at the same venue.
Both their opponents are in the bottom two and facing relegation, but two matches within the space of 24 hours will certainly test Saltash’s squad strength.
When they played Hayle away earlier in the season they won 26-10 and they beat Torrington 52-0 on their travels in September. Torrington, though, have improved considerably since then and have won their last three matches, beating Tavistock, Wessex and Withycombe.
Plymstock Albion Oaks, who are still hopeful of a top half finish, have a tough home match against fourth-placed Honiton.
Oaks, though, have won four of their last five league and cup games and their home form has been good.
“When we played them before the scoreline looked like they had dominated us, but we didn’t feel miles away,” said Oaks coach Callum Cload.
“They have the threat of Nathan (Hannay), but we know what’s coming and it’s how we stop it.
“I know we have a few people out but, hopefully, we have enough depth and can really give them a good challenge.
“It is about doing the right things at the right times.”
Plymouth Argaum have a big day planned at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.
Their first team host Cornish side Lanner, who sit two places above them in the table, while their second XV will entertain Devonport Services III in the Ellis Trophy semi-final. The club are also hosting their Plymouth Argaum Past Players Association (PAPPA) annual reunion.
“It’s going to be a good club day,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “We’ve got two games on and all the old boys coming to watch.”
Argaum are hoping to beat Lanner for the first time. Earlier this season they lost 31-10 in Cornwall and last year were beaten 22-16 at home and 31-6 away.
Lanner, like many Cornish sides, are much stronger at home than away. They have also been a bit out of form in the last few months. They have only won twice since the end of November – against bottom three sides Wessex and Hayle.
“We certainly see it as a winnable game,” added Quarterman. “We have got quite a few unavailable this week but, fortunately, we have a big squad.”
Front-row forwards are Argaum’s biggest concern with two teams playing on the same day. They will also be missing influential captain John Ireland.
However, they should be able to welcome back Dan Smith, who has been out for six weeks with a finger injury.
They have also added to their squad by signing Argentinian fly-half Lucas Muntz, who has been playing in Spain.
Tavvy are hoping they may be able to play on their first team pitch for the first time in nearly three months.
The bad weather has not helped Tavistock, who have not won since December. But they are hoping they can finish the season strongly.
They have good availability this weekend, so much so that they delayed team selection.
“We’ve got plenty of competition,” said coach Hammy Kerswill, who admitted they did have a ‘selection dilemma’.
“The pressure is on us to select the right squad for the job.”
Bude did beat Tavistock 24-0 away from home, but the Sandy Park club are much better on their own pitch, where all their wins have come this season.
“In the away fixture it took us 60 minutes to man up and Bude’s experience dictated play.
“The lads are really motivated this Saturday to cause what will look like an upset if we can result.”
He added: “We’ve had two good sessions this week, with Tuesday being a specific session for the forwards around the set piece, which well attended.”
Hooker Phil Wilson is available for Tavistock, as is back Mark Webber. Ash Miller and Tom Friend could also form a new-look second-row.
DEVON ONE & TWO
Totnes are fourth in the table, but their form has been inconsistent in the second half of the season.
“I spoke to one of their coaches the other week and he said they were struggling a little bit, but you just don’t know,” said Sarries coach Chey Bryce.
“We just have to do our job. That’s the beauty – our fate is in our own hands, not other people’s.
“I think Exeter Saracens are down now and if we win this weekend that is us safe.”
If Sarries did win that would leave the fight for the relegation places between Old Techs, Exeter Saracens and New Cross.
Exeter Saracens would have the toughest job as they would need to beat leaders South Molton in their remaining game.
New Cross also only have one match left, which is against Totnes, who Techs also have to play, along with Tamar Saracens.
If Sarries do not win this weekend then they would face a massive match the following week against Techs.
The Ernesettle-based club already have an eye on that fixture and are not likely to risk Ryan Deacon and Bryce this weekend following injury.
They are also without Mike Cox, Josh Heath and Tom Rigby this weekend.
Old Techs are left without a competitive match, despite having two league games and a Devon Junior Cup match to get in before March 30, as all their opponents have other fixtures.
To try and keep their form going – they have won their last two league games – Techs are set to play Saltash IIs in a friendly on Saturday.
In Devon Two, DHSOB are hoping they can get their first win of the season when they travel to fellow strugglers St Columba & Torpoint.
Even though they have not recorded a win this term, the Old Boys are not bottom as Saints have had 20 points deducted for failing to fulfil fixtures both at the end of last season and this.
But DHSOB do not want to be the only team not to win a match. Saints narrowly won 19-10 when the sides met earlier in the season, which is their only victory of the campaign.
However, they will have taken positives from an encouraging display against Plym Vic last weekend.
DHSOB do hope to have a few of their Fijian players available, but they will be without their colts, who host South Molton in semi-finals of the Devon Bowl.
Plym Vic should have been playing OPMs in the Devon Junior Cup this week, but have pulled out of that fixture to play University of Plymouth IV in a rearranged Ellis Trophy game.
Without a competitive match to play, OPMs have arranged a friendly with Plymstock Albion Oaks IIs.