IVYBRIDGE will face an anxious couple of weeks after narrowly losing 28-25 to in-form Camborne on Saturday.
The Cornish side scored a converted try in the 80th minute to return back across the Tamar with four points.
It was gutting for Ivybridge, who had been 12-0 up after just 11 minutes at Cross-in-Hand. Had they won they could have virtually secured their safety by moving into the top half of the table.
As it is they drop back to fourth-from-bottom, just six points ahead of third-from-bottom Newbury, who have a game in hand.
Ivybridge’s final two games area against fifth-placed Cleve and champions Dings Crusaders.
Newbury have three games left, two of which are against Ivybridge’s Devon rivals Exmouth and Newton Abbot.
“We were targeting a win but we didn’t get it and it does make it slightly harder for ourselves,” said Ivybridge coach Jamie Tripcony. “But the good thing is it is still in our hands.
“The main thing is we still have two more games and 10 points to play for. We will do everything we can on Tuesday and Thursday night to make sure we are ready for Cleve away.”
On the frustration of losing to Camborne, Tripcony added: “The game was going our way a little bit and it was a tough pill to swallow, but fair play to Camborne, they played in the right areas and they got good change from that.
“We worked really hard for our tries and we really dug deep and gave it everything, but unfortunately not everything was quite good enough on the day.
“We did have an opportunity with the last play of the game to win it, but sometimes those decisions go with you and other times they go against you. We’ll learn from that.”
Both Ivybridge and Camborne went into Saturday’s match in good form. The Bridgers had won three out of their last four games, while Camborne had won five in a row.
And the fixture lived up to its billing, despite a muddy pitch and a slippery ball.
Ivybridge made a great start by scoring after less than three minutes when Billy Pinkus crossed in the right corner after some good patient play from kick-off.
Eight minutes later, Ivybridge had collected a second try when they took a short clever line-out and flanker Ben King charged over to score. Mitch Pinkus added the conversion to make it 12-3.
David Mankee cut the gap four minutes later with a penalty before former Albion and Cornish Pirates back Rhodri McAtee crossed in the corner for the Camborne’s first try.
Ivybridge went 15-8 ahead when Mitch Pinkus kicked a penalty, but Mankee put one over for Camborne to close the gap to four points again.
However, the home club went 18-11 up at the break when Mitch Pinkus kicked another penalty on 35 minutes.
Eleven minutes after the break, Ivybridge were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes when King was yellow carded and Mankee kicked another penalty to reduce the deficit to 18-14.
Camborne went in front for the first time on 58 minutes when Taff Roko gathered a great cross-field kick by Mankee to score in the corner. Mankee also added the conversion to make it 21-18 in the visitors’ favour.
Camborne were then reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes and in the 75th minute it looked like Billy Pinkus might have won the game for Ivybridge when he showed strength to score in the right corner. Luke Martell added the conversion to put his side 25-21 up.
But Ivybridge gave away a penalty from the restart and after pressure on the line the influential Mankee crossed just to the right of the posts and also added the conversion.
There was one last chance for Ivybridge to steal the victory. Deep in injury-time they were awarded a penalty. They went for the corner with the last play and tried an identical line-out that led to King’s opening try. It looked like Ivybridge had caught Camborne out with it again, but this time the referee deemed that the ball had not gone the required five-metres and blew up for full-time.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services suffered a third successive defeat when they were beaten 11-5 at relegation-threatened Paignton.
But incredibly they are in the same position as they were in the standings as second-placed St Austell also failed to win for a third successive match.
St Austell are three points ahead of Devonport in third with two games to play.
If they do end up missing out on the play-off spot then Services will be kicking themselves as they have had enough chances to have secured it in recent weeks.
“Every week it is just little things,” said Services coach Mike Lewis. “It is nothing major.
“So far this season we have only lost two games by more than seven points.
“We dominated possession again this week. When they had the ball they didn’t break our line. The try they scored came really early and it was a charge down.
“We defended fantastically well, but we gave away too many silly penalties, especially at scrum time and it turned into a dog-fight.
“Our decision-making was not good enough. We have five two-on-ones, but got a bit of white line fever. It was just one of those days. If we had made the right decisions we would have been in a play-off spot and looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
He added: “We seem to get to about six phases and think we need to do something superb to score instead of being patient. We have been talking about that for the last couple of months. We work really hard on a Tuesday and Thursday. In training we are keeping the ball for about 30 phases but this week we got to about seven phases and then give up and kick the ball or try something silly.
“But we have been defending really well. If you look at our results we have not been conceding many points. But if you only concede between five and 15 points in a game you expect to win it.”
Paignton needed the win to pull out of the relegation zone and they got the best possible starts when they scored after a Services kick was deflected into their hands.
But Services hit back to level with a try by Royal Navy back Rhys Williams.
Devonport, though, gave away one penalty before half-time to go in 8-5 down and they conceded another kickable one in the second period.
IT WAS not a good weekend for Plymouth Combination clubs in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Promotion-chasing Saltash were left without a league match after Lanner handed them a walkover, while Plymstock Albion Oaks, Plymouth Argaum and Tavistock all lost.
Lanner were struggling for registered players but were willing to travel to Moorlands and play a friendly, but Saltash, who have a backlog of fixtures and a Twickenham cup final to look forward to, opted against it.
They did get the five points, which keeps the pressure on Wellington and Penryn.
They will travel to Penryn next week in a match that is likely to decide the order of the top three.
Penryn, unbeaten since the start of January, continued their good form with a 41-7 victory away at Plymstock Albion Oaks.
Oaks held Penryn for most of the first half. It was 0-0 for 30 minutes and there was only a score in it at the break.
Nathan Strick and Andrew Saviour scored tries for the visitors in the first half, with Tom Richards replying for Oaks.
In the second half Paul Saberton crossed twice to put Penryn 22-7 up.
Mitch Vague crossed on 56 minutes to make it 27-7, which was how it stayed until the dying few minutes when Seviour and Vague crossed again for tries, which were both converted by Vague.
“I think on reflection we just turned up against a very good Penryn side,” said Oaks player-coach Callum Cload.
“They are a very complete squad and, credit to them, they played a very measured and clever game.
“However, considering they had 70 per cent possession we defended our absolute hearts out. We spent the first 20 minutes in our 22 without conceding.
“But Penryn just went through phase after phase and eventually got a score.
“It was a similar story for the rest of the half, but with another positive Tom Richards performance. He ignited our hopes with a good line and try.
“Second half we stayed with them for most of it and saw a bit more of the ball, however, some good first phases by Penryn and our tired bodies showed eventually. In the last five minutes Penryn scored two tries to make the scoreline a bit more glamorous than maybe suggested.
“Credit to Penryn and credit to our boys, who stuck at it with a good defensive performance.
“We have to look at clubs like that (Penryn) and see the level we have to get to. So there’s lots to learn.”
Plymouth Argaum suffered a disappointing 36-19 home defeat to lower placed Pirates Amateurs.
The visitors made a great start and went 14-0 up after just 16 minutes with converted tries by Mike Roche and Ryan Stanley.
Argaum reduced the gap to 14-12 with two tries from forward Dan Smith, with Al Murray converting the second one.
But just before the break, Stanley added his second to give the Pirates a 21-12 half-time lead.
Evans added a penalty after the interval before Charlie Goldsworthy claimed the all-important fourth try for the visitors to make it 29-12.
Mason Edwards pulled one back for Argaum, but the final word went to the Pirates, who had Morgan Holam adding a converted try.
Afterwards, Argaum’s Calum Mills said: “It was disappointing, but the Pirates brought up a good team. They came here with a plan and they executed it really well.
“Our boys played really well – our line-outs and mauls were good and our scrums were really good – there was nothing wrong with the way we played, but they Pirates executed their plan perfectly.”
Tavistock were beaten 26-8 by fourth-placed Honiton at Sandy Park, but coach Hammy Kerswill felt there were plenty of positives for his team.
“It was a really good game, well refereed, played in good spirit but hard-fought as well,” said Kerswill.
“All the boys were upbeat as it was a good performance. We were missing people, but a lot of boys stepped up.
“When they (Honiton) got in our 22 they looked deadly, but the rest of the time we defended really well.
“It was a really competitive game.”
The first half was very even. Jack Easton kicked a penalty to put Tavistock ahead, before Honiton hit back with a try by former Leeds and Jersey lock Nathan Hannay.
Full-back Ben Milligan, who has stepped up from the colts, then scored a stunning try for Tavistock when he returned a clearing kick and outrageously side-stepped his opposite number to touch down. That made it 8-7 to Tavistock, but Honiton hit back to go 12-8 up at the break with another try by Hannay.
Tavistock were playing up the slope second half and had a bit of possession at the start but Honiton scored a well-worked try to go 19-8 up. And five minutes from time they bagged another try from close range.
Tavistock, like Argaum, are still not certain of safety, although Hayle and Wessex would need to win their remaining games for them to be relegated.
Tavistock’s last four fixtures are against Lanner, Penryn, Saltash and Wessex.
“We are positive about Lanner and Wessex,” said Kerswill. “And we know we can score points against Penryn and Saltash.
“There is a really good attitude at the moment.”
Tavistock kindly donated the £163 proceeds of a raffle after Saturday’s game to Honiton, whose recently suffered an arson attack to containers at their club where they were storing items from their clubhouse, which is undergoing work.
DEVON JUNIOR CUP AND DEVON ONE
OPMs booked their place in the semi-finals of the Devon Junior Cup by beating their city rivals Old Techs 22-7 at Weston Mill.
Devon Two side OPMs will now meet Devon One runners-up Topsham in the last four.
The Elburton-based club had not played a competitive match for more than a month, but they made a great start against a Techs side who had played a tough RNEC Cup match against Tavistock on Wednesday night.
The visitors went 12-0 up with tries by Lewis Harmer and Billy Garratt, who was captaining the team on Saturday.
Techs did come back to close the gap to 12-7 with a try by James Douglas, which Billy Evans converted.
But OPMs responded with a long-range penalty by Matt Thompson before a stunning try for his own 22 by Mark Watten, which Thompson converted.
The derby match did end on a low point with a red card to Techs’ Douglas bringing the game to an end a few minutes early.
OPMs, though, were just delighted to beat their rivals, who will be joining them again in Devon Two next season after a season in Devon One.
“We were really pleased with the performance,” said OPMs’ Henry Matthews. “It was a really good game.
“We went two tries up in the first half. Second half they put the pressure on. We kind of took our foot of the gas and they got a pick-and-go try. But then we woke up a bit and played a really good kick-and-chase game. We got in behind them and put the pressure on.
“We were really pleased with the win and we’re looking forward to facing Topsham.”
The defeat ended Techs’ season after they also went out of the RNEC Cup in midweek.
Tamar Saracens’ campaign also ended on Saturday when they were well beaten 52-5 away at Dartmouth in the final Devon One game.
The hosts were 21-0 up at the break and continued their pressure after the interval against an under-strength Sarries side. Dartmouth scored eight tries in total, six of which were converted.