Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge and Devonport Services look for vital wins

IVYBRIDGE will head to fifth-placed Cleve on Saturday hoping to secure a win that could possibly secure their South West Premier status.

The Bridgers are just one place and six points clear of the drop zone having played a game more than third-from-bottom Newbury.

However, if the Cross-in-Hand club could win in South Gloucestershire and their Devon rivals Exmouth beat Newbury then their safety could be guaranteed.

“We just have to go for the win,” said player-coach Lewis Paterson, who is set to miss Saturday’s match. “We could be safe if we win and Newbury lose.

“It is important we try to get that big win – that’s the main thing. We don’t want to rely on other results.”

Ivybridge have been in relatively good form. They have not lost by more than one score since November.

However, last week they were frustrated to narrowly lose 28-25 at home to Camborne after conceding a late try and having a late chance disallowed.

“Last week was frustrating,” said Paterson. “Full credit to Camborne, they took their chances well. They are a tough side to crack, but we did lose some points through inaccurate decisions from the referee.

“This Saturday, though, we are just focussing on ourselves again.

“We just have to keep our discipline and really take it to Cleve. It is going to be a dry day and we want to play some attractive rugby but also have some grit about us.”

WESTERN COUNTIES WEST

DEVONPORT Services know they must beat already-crowned champions St Ives on Saturday at home to guarantee taking the battle for the runners-up spot into the final weekend.

Services currently sit in third place, three points behind second-placed St Austell with two games to go.

Devonport need to win their remaining two games and hope Saints slip up in one of theirs if they are to sneak into the play-offs.

St Austell, who like Services have not won in three matches, also have a tough match this weekend. They travel to fourth-placed Kingsbridge, who could still finish ahead of Devonport.

Services had hoped that this weekend’s match at the Rectory might have been a title-decider, but instead they find themselves just trying to keep their play-off hopes alive.

“We thought this game might be for whom would win the league, but we have somehow managed to avoid that at all costs,” said Services coach Mike Lewis, who has seen his side lose five of their last six games by just one score.

“They (St Ives) are the only team to have really beaten us this year when we went down to their place. They just seemed to want it more and executed better than we did.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, we will have the right attitude this week and can get some points on the board. We are defending fantastically well at the moment – we couldn’t defend any better – we just need to score some more points.

“It is just four or five small little things we need to correct as a collective. At the moment half of the team are doing it and then the next week it’s the other half.

“We just need to crack on now. We went away from our game-plan last week at Paignton and it cost us points. But it has to come this weekend.

“It certainly should be a good battle.”

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE & DEVON JUNIOR CUP

SALTASH face a massive match on Saturday when they head to promotion-rivals Penryn in the Cornwall/Devon League.

The Ashes know they need to end Penryn’s three-month unbeaten run if they are to keep the race for promotion in their own hands.

Penryn currently sit in second place, eight points ahead of Saltash in third, but the Ashes have two games in hand.

Whoever wins on Saturday will be favourites to secure one of the top two spots along with Wellington, who are currently six points clear with three games to go.

Saltash did comfortably beat Penryn 30-14 at Moorlands Lane in early December. However, the Borough have really found some form in the last few months. They have scored an average of 66 points in their last five matches.

However, apart from a slip up away at fourth-place Honiton, Saltash have also been in good form, which has included reaching Twickenham in the RFU Senior Vase.

It should be a cracking game at the Memorial Ground and one both clubs know they cannot afford to lose.

At the other end of the table, Tavistock and Plymouth Argaum will be looking for wins to pull them clear of the bottom four.

The two clubs, who sit ninth and 10th, are virtually safe but with bottom side Wessex still having six games in hand their safety is still not mathematically guaranteed yet.

Tavistock travel to seventh-placed Lanner, while Argaum make the trip to Withycombe, who lie sixth.

Tavvy, who have still not managed an away win in the league this season, do head down to Cornwall boosted by reaching the RNEC Cup final.

The Sandy Park club beat DHSOB 64-12 on Wednesday night at Keyham to set up a final with OPMs.

They handed first team debuts to colts Jasper Cameron, Toby Teague and Ed Nettleship in the game against a DHSOB, who had Lewis Jeffery and Ryan Bevan scoring tries.

The RNEC Cup final will played next Wednesday night on the same evening as the Pedrick Cup final, where Tavistock’s seconds will play Saltash seconds.

“I’ve got a busy week finding 36 players,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill.

However, at the moment Tavistock are just focussed on Lanner and hoping to pick up some valuable away points.

They will be missing the influential Mark Friend for the trip to Cornwall. He is away on tour with the under-12 side. They are also without Phil Wilson and Aidan Mason. However, they are able to welcome back Joe Hair, while Josh Langton is available again and keeps his place at seven. Jack Easton and Mark Webber will again form the half-back pairing, while Ethan Lamerton returns at centre.

Kerswill said: “It will be an interesting game. We are a bit of a thorn in Lanner’s side, having won our last three outings against them, but we are poor on travels so it is set to be a tight game.”

Plymouth Argaum are two points ahead of Tavistock, but they have played a game more.

They face a tricky trip to the inconsistent Withycombe on Saturday.

Argaum were disappointed to lose 36-19 at home to Pirates Amateurs last weekend and will be looking for an improved performance on Saturday.

However, they are again struggling for players to make the trip to Exmouth.

“We did not really turn up last week,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quaterman. “Penzance wanted it more than us.

“We have beaten Withycombe twice at home but not away. They are always better at home, but we would like to go up there and produce a strong performance.

“Our players just have to remember that the season is not over yet.”

Plymstock Albion Oaks are also on their travels. They head down to Penzance to face the Pirates Amateurs.

Oaks have been in decent form in the last few months and would be hoping for a win at Mennayne Field. However, after the Pirates’ win over Argaum last week they will not be taking them lightly.

Plymstock did win the corresponding game at Horsham Fields in December 27-15.

Oaks’ new player-coach Aiden Taylor has been named in Devon’s squad to play Cornwall in the Tamar Cup on Monday. Saltash players Will Morton and Lewis Wells are in the Duchy squad.

Meanwhile, OPMs will be hoping to cause an upset and secure a place in the Devon Junior Cup when they head to Devon One runners-up Topsham in the semi-finals of the competition.

Topsham will be favourites, having only lost twice in the league this season. Those defeats were against Dartmouth and Tamar Saracens.

“We are looking forward to it,” said OPMs’ Henry Matthews.

The Old Boys face two tough matches in the same of five days as they will play Tavistock in the RNEC Cup final on Wednesday night.

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