RUGBY PREVIEWS: Unbeaten Ivybridge and Oaks hope to continue momentum after week off

IVYBRIDGE are hoping they have not lost any momentum following a week off in the South West Premier League.

The Bridgers have won all six of their opening games to sit second in the table, one point behind fellow unbeaten side Bournemouth.

However, the South Hams club face a tough test on Saturday when they visit fourth-placed Maidenhead, who are unbeaten at home this term.

“They have been doing well and it is a tough place to go,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “I think they have only lost once in two years at home.

“They have an all-weather pitch as well, so hopefully we will be able to rise to the challenge.

“We are in form and the boys are on a high. We’ve got six wins out of six, so Maidenhead will know they will have a challenge, especially with us having the same surface as them.”

He added: “Momentum is massive, but everyone has had a week off. All the teams are in the same boat so there are no excuses.

“We have trained really well and a lot of boys did get a game for the twos (last week). Boys that needed a rest were rested, but boys that needed to play played.

“Hopefully, we are going to go up to Maidenhead and be ruthless.”

Ivybridge will be without young centre Will Lamont and prop Jon Morgan this weekend. They are also still without summer signing Toby Borrow, but he is close to fitness again after injury.

Morgan’s absence gives Wes Vermigle an opportunity to start, while Paterson returns for youngster Lamont, who has made a big impression this season.

“He’s been fantastic,” said Paterson. “He’s a really good young talent who is leading the pathway for colts up to seniors. He has been a huge asset.

“It is just unfortunate he is away with work this weekend. He just has to keep his head down and keep working hard. If he does that he will keep earning that shirt, but there are boys really chomping at the bit to take it.”

Another youngster, Nathan Davies returns to the squad after a head injury. He will start on the bench.


DEVONPORT Services coach Mike Lewis is calling on his team to show that they can play just as well away from home as they can at the Rectory.

Services make the long trip to Thornbury on Saturday bidding for their second victory on their travels in South West One.

They have won all three of their home matches but only one of their three on the road.

“I don’t know if we are going to get used to travelling away this year,” said Lewis. “We always seem to start slow away and just don’t seem to have the right mental attitude, which is our main focus this week.

“It does not matter who or where we are playing we just know on away games we need to come with a better attitude.

“On the bus for away games we are really buoyant, enthusiastic and energetic, but when we get to the game we just go a little bit quiet. I’m not sure if it is because of the unfamiliar surroundings.

“In our last game when we played Cullompton at home and our defensive shape was really good, we were flying off the line, we were making big tackles and we were really enthusiastic.  If we had gone away like that to the Hornets the week before we would have come away with the victory quite easily.”

He added: “This week is one of our longer trips. On a bus it is about three hours and our guys are only used to going at the furthest an hour-and-a-half to St Ives, which was previously our longest trip. So the lads have to get their heads around these longer journeys because the week after we have Coney Hill, so that’s two long trips on the bounce.

“We are doing really well at home, but away we don’t focus enough and are always focusing on what the opposition have got or are doing. It just has to be about us this week. We have to focus all our energy on what we do really well.

“We think they (Thornbury) are going to be a similar standard to us judging by results, but we just have to focus on what we are doing.”

Services will be without backs Luke Kenny and Rhys Williams, while Kier Murphy will need a late fitness test. Hooker Sam Bennett is also likely to be missing after pulling his hamstring in training last week.

Lewis has been impressed with many of the players that have been playing in the second team and admits a number are really pushing their claims.

“Last week the second team went away to Newton Abbot and only lost 17-14 after conceding a last minute try when we threw an offload straight into their hands and they went off and scored. But a lot of boys had outstanding games, as they did the week before,” said Lewis.

“A few of the second team players who probably at the start of the season did not think they would get near the first team are probably pushing a lot harder than they think. I think a couple could get a shot.”

In Western Counties West, Saltash will head to fellow strugglers Bideford boosted by last week’s Cornwall Cup win over league rivals Falmouth.

It was just what the Ashes needed for their trip to north Devon to face a Bideford side, who like themselves, have lost their opening six league games.

Saltash are a point ahead of Bideford and they will fancy their chances at King George’s Field with their hosts having only scored 37 points in six games. The Ashes have scored 84, but their problem has been conceding points.

Saltash could do with a win to close the gap on the teams above them. They are currently seven points off safety.


PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor has told his team not to underestimate league new boys Topsham at Bonfire Field on Saturday.

Oaks head to Exeter as league leaders with six wins out of six to their name.

Topsham have had a bit of an indifferent start to life at level eight and sit 10th in the standings with only two wins to their name.

However, both those wins have come at home with a 42-17 win over Liskeard-Looe and a 31-12 victory over the Pirates Amateurs. They also made Penryn work hard for a win in Cornwall.

“We don’t know anything about them really, just what we have seen from results,” said Taylor. “It is unknown territory, but we do expect them to have a strong team.

“I know they have a really wide pitch so hopefully that will play to our strengths and we can move the ball wide.

“I said to the lads in training ‘yes they are mid-table and nearer the bottom than the top but they are at home and anything can happen, especially after a week off’.

“It is going to be a tough one, I think.

“We are on a great run at the moment and I hope that week off has not just stopped our momentum. I just hope the players show up on Saturday and put in another good performance.”

Oaks are near to full strength and Devon forward Tim Coats could be back in action after a knee injury, while prop Stuart Kirkwood is also close to fitness again and could feature.

Plymouth Argaum will be far from at full strength for their trip to south Devon to play much-fancied Torquay Athletic at the Recreation Ground.

Argaum have a long list of injuries and unavailabilities this weekend. Among the players they are set to be missing are Dan James, Joe Walker, Calum Mills, Mike Hunt, Mason Edwards, Jake Turfery and Callum Perkins.

“It will be a very tough game,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “But there will be a lot of opportunities for players to impress in the first team.

“I think we have 12 out injured or unavailable and so we are going to have to change the way we approach the game.

“We are playing against a club massive in comparison to ourselves. They (Torquay) are playing in a league below the standard they would expect. But we just have to go there and play positively.

“We have to try and get as much out of the game as we can. There will be opportunities and the regular first team players have to step up and show their senior experience.”

Tavistock will be hoping they can pull out of the bottom three when they host South Molton at home on Saturday.

Tavistock did win their last home game against Argaum to get off the mark this season, but they know South Molton will be tough opponents. The north Devon club sit in sixth place and have only lost twice since their promotion – against Penryn and Plymstock Albion Oaks.

“I have played against South Molton a number of times at North Tawton,” said Tavistock player-coach Hammy Kerswill. “And they are extremely physical, especially up front.

“We’ve got good numbers this season, despite injury, and with an improved game-plan introduced by (director of rugby) James Reyburn we have much more purpose to each and every playing shirt.”

Tavistock are set to hand a debut to colt Toby Teague at number eight. It has been a good week for Teague, who has also been named in Devon under-18s squad.

Kerswill and Ethan Lamerton are back after six weeks out injured, while Tavistock also have number 10 Ed Nettleship available again after missing the last game. Dave Milligan and Josh Birch come in on the wings, but Tavistock are still without captain Andrew Schuttkacker, vice-skipper Martin Budden and prop Joe Hair. Josh Langton will lead the side from flanker.

Meanwhile, Liskeard-Looe face a tough trip to fourth-placed Honiton on Saturday.


The eye-catching match in Devon One is at the Parkway where Tamar Saracens host city rivals Old Techs.

The pair have had similar starts to the season. They both only have one win to their name and have been narrowly beaten by one score by OPMs and lost to North Tawton.

Both could do with a win tomorrow, which could move them into the top half of the table.

“I think it will probably be another close derby game, like it was when we both played OPMs,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.

“We both lost narrowly to OPMs but both could have won with different decisions. I don’t think there is much between all three clubs.”

Most recent matches between Sarries and Techs have been close, with the exception of the last league meeting at the Parkway when Saracens, inspired by now Brixham prop James McFarlane, won 43-7 in snowy and freezing conditions.

“I wasn’t there, but from what I heard we just didn’t turn up,” said Bedford-Smith. “By all accounts they played well but we played poorly.

“But this time I would like to think it will be close. In derby games a decision your way or a bit of luck can get you a result.”

Tamar Saracens did not play last weekend. They pulled out of travelling to Dartmouth in the Devon Junior Cup, which leaves them facing a ban from next season’s county cup competitions.

Techs did play and overcame a new-look Salcombe side 21-11 in horrible conditions.

“It was a good win for us,” said Bedford-Smith. “That was possibly one of the best Salcombe sides we have played in a long time.”

OPMs will be looking to make it three wins in a row in Devon One on Saturday when they travel to the unpredictable Torrington.

The sides were two divisions apart last season, with Torrington in the Cornwall/Devon League and OPMs in Devon Two.

But OPMs currently sit fifth in the standings with two wins out of three, while Torrington are second-from-bottom with just one win from four.

That win for Torrington, however, was an eye-catching 76-0 victory over New Cross.  In their last game they lost 21-6 at North Tawton, while they were heavily beaten by Exeter Athletic and Exeter Saracens in their opening two games.

OPMs will not be totally sure what to expect from the Donnacroft Fields club.

In the Devon Merit Table, there is a good clash at Defiance Field where St Columba & Torpoint host old rivals Plympton Victoria.

Both clubs have one win to their names so far this season in the new league, but Saints have picked up an impressive six bonus points from five matches.

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