IVYBRIDGE ended their season on a high by winning the Devon Senior Cup for the first time in their history on Monday.
The Bridgers beat South West Premier League rivals Exmouth 38-31 in an entertaining final played in hot conditions at Cross-in-Hand.
Ivybridge led twice by 15 points during the match but Exmouth came back and closed to within two with a few minutes to go.
But the hosts sealed the win with a Robin Luscombe try in injury-time.
Jay Geraty had the honour of becoming the first Ivybridge player to lift the cup.
It capped a good weekend for him as he had coached the club’s under-14 team to victory in the South Coast Rocks Festival the day before.
“To be fair, I’m only captain by default as Matt Finn broke his jaw midway through the year,” said Geraty.
“But the lads have worked really hard for this. We set ourselves objectives and we’ve put a lot of time into training and it was a good result for us.
“Exmouth are a class side. I know they had a bit of a poor end to the season, but there is a reason why they keep jumping between Nat Three and Nat Two and that’s because they are a class act. By no means was it an easy game.”
Hooker Geraty, who is the elder statesman of the Ivybridge side, feels the team can take a lot of pride out of this season.
“If we hadn’t have had our five point deduction in the league we would have finished fifth and to win Devon Cup probably makes it the most successful season we have had as a club, which is credit to the lads,” said Geraty. “It is a young team and they have worked really hard.
“This team is building and with the AGP (artificial grass pitch) going in for the start next season then hopefully there’s big things to come.”
Geraty has enjoyed coaching the club’s under-14s this year, along with Neil Thomson. As well as winning the South Coast Rocks Festival on Sunday they also won the Devon Plate final.
“The strength of this club is our youth,” said Geraty. “The juniors are generally quite successful and by the time they get through to senior level they are fearless and don’t know how to lose.
“That’s brilliant as they come through and work hard for each other – that’s how we afford to be an amateur club playing at this level.”
Most of the team that played in Monday’s final had come through the club’s junior ranks.
They did go 3-0 behind early on to a Tom Whelan penalty but Devon under-20 captain Mitch Pinkus then kicked two of his own to put Ivybridge 6-3 up.
Then on 21 minutes the hosts scored the game’s first try when the impressive Charlie Briant crossed on the right after great play from a scrum in the middle of the park on the left. Mitch Pinkus converted to make it 13-3.
That become 18-3 seven minutes later when Billy Pinkus also scored on the right after more good play by Briant.
Exmouth did reduce the gap with a try from close range by former Plymouth Albion flanker James Harris, which Whelan converted.
But straight from the restart, and with the last play of the half, Ivybridge responded with a try by player-coach Lewis Paterson after Exmouth were caught out by a kick. Mitch Pinkus converted to put his side 25-10 up at the break.
Pinkus missed a penalty at the start of the second period and Exmouth scored a second try through Richard Bright on 55 minutes to make it 25-17.
Minutes later Briant looked like he was going to score the try of the day when he ran from 55 metres and avoided a host of tackles only for the referee to rule he had been held up over the line.
Ivybridge, though, kept the pressure on and five minutes later Billy Pinkus crossed in the right corner for his second of the game after receiving a long pass from his younger brother Mitch.
However, yet again Exmouth responded with a try in the corner by Jack Fahy, which was brilliantly converted to cut the gap to one score.
The pressure was on Ivybridge, but, cheered on by a large crowd, they sealed the match when Devon under-20 player Luscombe forced his way over from 20 metres.
After the game Ivybridge president Alan Knight made the first cut on digging up the Cross-in-Hand playing surface so that work could start on the installation of Devon and Cornwall’s first RFU artificial grass pitch, which will be available for any club in the region to use.