IVYBRIDGE’S players made sure the celebrations off the pitch at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday were matched by ones on it with a bonus point win over Camborne.
The Bridgers ran in four tries to secure a 29-24 victory over their Cornish visitors, who snatched a losing bonus point in injury-time with two late converted tries.
There was a big crowd at Cross-in-Hand to mark the opening of the RFU’s new artificial grass pitch.
When it did start, Ivybridge came out fired up and took a 17-0 lead after 30 minutes.
Billy Pinkus got them underway with a penalty on eight minutes before new captain Charlie Briant scored a fine try under the posts on 19 minutes. It came following pressure from a scrum in Camborne’s 22 and full-back Briant timed his run brilliantly to burst through from 15 metres. Pinkus added the simple conversion.
And 10 minutes later Briant scored again with another brilliantly-timed run following a move from a line-out. Pinkus again converted.
Camborne had struggled a bit to get going on the new artificial pitch but they did close the gap to 17-10 at the break.
Jake Champion kicked a penalty before the hosts were awarded a penalty try after good play by flanker Jordan Nicholls.
Ivybridge came out strongly for the second half and scored a third try within two minutes when winger Pinkus scored in the right corner. He also brilliantly converted to make it 24-10.
The game then lost its way for a bit due to a number of stoppages but it livened up in the closing stages.
Young centre Will Lamont scored Ivybridge’s all-important fourth try in the left corner with normal time almost up.
However, there was plenty of injury-time to add on and Camborne scored tries through Josh Semmens and Alex Ducker to take a point back over the Tamar.
Ivybridge were delighted with the win, but coach Jamie Tripcony did admit it was a bit frustrating letting in two late tries.
“Obviously, there’s areas where we will look to improve. I think we can look to find a bit more space on the pitch, but the moments that we did have were good moments and we took them.”
He added: “Those two late tries will make a difference to us in our mind-set for next week. We just need that little bit more game management as we don’t want to be giving teams extra points. In a perfect world you don’t want to be conceding any tries. It does hurt us and that will be one of our focus points for next week.”
With such a big crowd and all the festivities with the opening of the pitch, there was a lot of expectation on the Ivybridge players to deliver.
“It was a great occasion for the club,” said Tripcony. “The pitch is absolutely brilliant for the club and the support we have had for that has been fantastic.
“Hopefully, we can keep some of these people coming to watch us, especially with the style of rugby we are playing at the minute.
“There was a bit of expectation on the players, but there will be expectation on them every week. They put it on themselves as they want to do well and improve
“Overall I thought our guys played exceptionally well and took their chances and showed great endeavour and enthusiasm in defence as Camborne did have a lot of the ball in the second half.”
SOUTH WEST ONE
DEVONPORT Services had a tough afternoon on their debut in South West One.
They lost 49-5 to a strong Okehampton outfit, who had former Plymouth Albion players Bevan Armitage, Rob Dugard and Gareth Evans in their squad.
Services were not helped by suffering more injuries ahead of the match at Showfield Park and during it.
Having already picked up 13 injuries in pre-season, Services also lost Royal Navy full-back Rhys Williams and captain Matt Gregory before kick-off. Williams’ leg had ballooned up after an insect bite picked up at training became infected and Gregory turned his ankle in training.
They then lost hooker Jamie Miles, flanker Ben Morris and winger Tim Weale during the match. Weale, who had come in for Williams, dislocated his knee cap following a high tackle.
But Devonport coach Mike Lewis refused to blame their injury situation for their opening day disappointment.
“We gave a really uncharacteristic performance, which was the main issue,” said Lewis.
“I have never seen us defend in the way we did and I’ve never seen us attack in the way we did in two-and-a-bit years, either in training or in games. It was incredible.
“It was such a weird game. It was one where you are just thinking ‘why are we doing that? We never do that’.
“Yeah, we didn’t get the rub of the game on some decisions early doors, but I think the main problem was the boys thought they (Okehampton) were better than us. I just don’t think they believed in themselves, like they did last year.
“They (Okehampton) took the ascendancy and we struggled to come back.”
He added: “Our injury count is up to 18 now, which is incredible.
“You want to make an impact and set the tone for the season in the first game and then you go away and suffer a 49-5 point loss.”
Ben McGowan scored Services’ only points at Okehampton after collecting a Matt Anstis chip kick to go over in the corner.
Services will look to bounce back next weekend when they welcome St Ives to the Rectory. The Cornish club were promoted from Western Counties West with them.
WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
SALTASH were another team to suffer an opening day to forget in a new league.
They went down 64-7 at highly-fancied Sidmouth on their return to Western Counties West.
Sidmouth finished last season strongly, including beating higher league Cullompton in the final of the Devon Intermediate Cup, and are tipped to be challenging for promotion this time around.
In a match that was delayed, Saltash found themselves 31-0 down at the break with winger Luke Wells-Burr, flanker Rhys Thomas, prop Aaron Down and winger Ethan Mead among Sidmouth’s try scorers.
Flanker Tom Seward added another try for the hosts after the break before Saltash finally got on the scoreboard.
Good work by captain Lewis Wells fed scrum-half Olly Mulberry, who showed great speed to score under the posts for an easy conversion for Ryan Cruickshanks.
However, that was to be the Ashes’ only points on a tough opening day, with Sidmouth adding four more tries courtesy of Tom Hodge, Matt Farrington, Wells-Burr and Mead.
Saltash will be looking to pick themselves up ahead of a home game against fellow Cornish side St Austell.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks caused a shock on the opening day of the season by beating promotion-favourites Penryn 25-20 at Horsham Fields.
After just missing out on promotion for the past two seasons, Penryn are expected to be challenging at the top again.
But they had to make do with just two bonus points from their trip across the Tamar after George Hamblin scored a late try to secure Oaks the win.
Plymstock were 15-10 up at the break thanks to tries by Devon forwards Aiden Taylor and Tim Coats and a conversion and penalty from Lewis Barnaby, who added another penalty after the interval.
But Penryn hit back and were leading 20-18 with 20 minutes to go thanks to tries by James Salisbury, Tony Pellow, John Followell and Chris Hellier.
Oaks have spent a lot of pre-season trying to make sure they can play for a full 80 minutes and they dug deep to snatch the win when Taylor intercepted a pass in his own half and fed Hamblin, who ran half the length of the pitch to score the winning try.
“For us to get that result is fantastic,” said player-coach Taylor.
“I think it might send a few shockwaves through the league as they (Penryn) are a good outfit.
“We went 20-18 down with about 20 minutes to go and if that had been last season then our heads would have dropped.”
Taylor had praise for youngster Lew Barnaby’s kicking.
“His penalties helped massively,” said Taylor.
Oaks will be hoping they can build on their impressive opening day win when they travel to the Pirates Amateurs in their next game.
Plymouth Argaum beat the Pirates on Saturday at Bickleigh Down to open their season in style.
Argaum ran in four tries to claim a 29-24 win after finding themselves 14-3 down early on.
“It was fantastic,” said new head coach Adrian Cameron. “Coming into this we had no idea where we were.
“In the first 10 minutes the Pirates took us apart really and scored two quick tries. Everything we had practiced and done was not working in competition, but perhaps the things we hadn’t done much work on seemed quite solid.
“But the boys clawed a few tries back. Dan James was massive; he just carried and tested the line and I think two tries came off him just hitting line-outs. Our set-piece was good generally.
“We took control of the match; dominating the set-piece and the tight game, but then we tried to let it get away from us. They came back and scored a try and it was a lot more pressure than it should have been.
“How you close a game out is important, but at the end I was massively happy because we’ve had no pre-season, whereas the Pirates have had two or three matches.
“Victory is a massive bonus and what is also a massive bonus is that there is so much potential to work with and more things to come.”
Al Murray kicked an early penalty for Argaum before they conceded two quick converted tries.
However, Argaum then found some form and took a 24-14 lead at the break thanks to tries by Joe Walker, Tom Holliday and Dan Smith, which were all converted by Murray.
The hosts extended their lead after the interval to 29-14 after scrum-half Chris Perkins crossed for their fourth touch-down.
However, the Pirates finished strongly and went home with two bonus points. Alfie Prosser scored two of their tries, with Ryan Stanley and Issac Blackbourn also touching down. Blackbbourn and Trev Duguard added conversions.
Liskeard-Looe had to settle for a draw at South Molton on their return to the Cornwall/Devon League.
In a match between two promoted teams all the scoring at Unicorn Park took place in the first half.
Last season’s Cornwall One champions took a 12-0 lead thanks tries by Jordan Smith and Chris Chew and a conversion from summer signing Ieuan Evans.
But South Molton, who won three Devon trophies last year and reach Twickenham in the RFU Junior Vase, hit back before the break with tries by Reece Eury and George Whiting.
Tavistock suffered injury-time heartbreak at home to Bude on Saturday in their season opener.
The home club had been 14-7 up midway through the second half, but Bude, who had finished fifth last season 42 points ahead of Tavistock, dug deep to snatch an undeserved victory in the seventh minute of added on time.
Ed Hilliam-Cooke scored all Bude’s points at Sandy Park with three penalties, a try and a conversion.
The young Tavistock team had gone 6-0 up with two George Hillson penalties before Hilliam-Cooke crossed for the game’s first try to put Bude 7-6 ahead.
Ben Milligan then scored for the hosts to give them a 11-7 lead at the break, which they extended after the interval with a Hillson penalty on 60 minutes.
But Hilliam-Cooke then kicked a penalty on 61 minutes, another on 72 minutes before his match-winner came seven minutes into injury-time.
DEVON MERIT TABLE
Plymouth Argaum Wanderers held off a spirited challenge from Devonport High School Old Boys to win 24-17 in the new-look Devon Merit Table.
Karl Sullivan, Isaac Honey, Bradley Westell and Jake Stanton scored tries for Argaum, with Cheyenne Edwards kicking both conversions.
DHSOB, who handed debuts to five players, started slowly but got into the game with two tries from new coach Martyn Ruskin and one from Pete Rushforth. Ruskin also kicked a conversion.
Afterwards DHSOB coach Ruskin said: “We did well. In the first half we were a bit sloppy but as we started gelling and getting to know each other we got better. In the second half they didn’t score.
“It was a good game and the lads are buzzing.”
In the other Division Two South & West Division match, Kieran Hurrell scored four tries as a rejuvenated St Columba & Torpoint side narrowly lost 41-40 away at Tavistock IIs in the Devon Merit Table.
Playing down the hill, Saints started the brighter and a well-worked blindside move off a scrum saw full-back Hurrell run in from 50m. He also converted to put his side 7-0 up.
But Tavistock hit back straight away with an unconverted try before Saints responded with a second try through scrum-half Stuart.
In and end-to-end game, Tavistock responded with another unconverted try, but Saints went in at the break 19-10 ahead when a well-worked move saw inside centre Cassidy put Hurrell through a hole and he ran in under the posts, with Stuart adding the conversion.
Tavistock came out fired up for the second half and scored two quick tries to go 22-19 up.
Saints responded when Stuart fed Grieve to drive over from close range. Stuart also converted to put the visitors 26-22 up.
Tavistock replied before Saints stormed into a 40-27 with two more Hurrell tries. The first involved number eight Lister, who made a great break, and the second was made by Stuart.
At that point it looked like the visitors would win the game, but they were penalised for collapsing a scrum and Tavistock cut the gap to six point.
Late on Tavistock won the game after Tavistock took advantage of a penalty to pile the pressure on. Saints did have won last chance to snatch victory back but were unable to take it.