IVYBRIDGE’S winning start to the season finally came to an end when they were narrowly beaten 33-29 away at fourth-placed Maidenhead.
It was the Bridgers’ first defeat since April 7, but they did return from Berkshire with two bonus points which keeps them in second place, three points ahead of Barnstaple in third.
“It is obviously disappointing,” said Ivybridge player-coach Lewis Paterson. “But it was our first lost since early April.
“It was disappointing in the fact that we know we could have performed better. Maidenhead were very good and very well-drilled and it was a difficult challenge to go up to a club with a formidable home record.
“However, we were very soft in D (defence) and, with no disrespect to Maidenhead, we underperformed, but we still only lost by four points.
“We knew there were areas of our game we could massively improve.
“But we came away with two points, so we can’t be too picky. We picked up two league points from a very, very tough place to go. Everyone knows Maidenhead are a very good side, but we have gone there got two points and are still sitting in second spot.
“We are going to lose sometimes and to improve you need those type of games. It will only make us better.”
In a tight game, Maidenhead led 19-15 at the break. The hosts did get two scores in front in the closing stages on but Adam Northcott scored a late try to secure Ivybridge two points. Their other tries came from Ben Watts, Luke Martell and Charlie Briant.
SOUTH WEST ONE & WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services dropped down to seventh in the South West One table after losing 29-14 away at fifth-placed Thornbury.
The game was tighter than the scoreline suggests and it proved an entertaining affair with lots of open rugby.
Services, though, did not take their chances, unlike their hosts Thornbury.
“We went all right but it just was not our day,” said head coach Mike Lewis.
“It was quite an exciting game to watch for any outsiders. It was an end-to-end game.
“We had plenty of possession but just didn’t turn it into points, which was unfortunate.
“It was one of those days of ifs and buts, but they (Thornbury) played the game better and sometimes you just have to say we lost to the better team on the day. At home on a different day if we get two or three more things right then we will win.”
Services went behind to a ‘classic’ driving maul try.
“I think they put 10 or 11 players in it, which is something we haven’t really come up against before,” said Lewis.
But Services hit back when flanker Will Marsh broke through midfield and ran in from 40 metres, side-stepping the full-back, to score under the posts.
Thornbury, though, crucially scored just before half-time and then added three more before Services finished strongly and Andy Pond went over for a well-worked try.
“Throughout that period when they scored a few tries we were dominant in terms of possession but we couldn’t quite do enough with the ball,” said Lewis.
SALTASH are finally off the mark in Western Counties West.
They narrowly beat fellow strugglers Bideford 13-10 away from home to move to within four points of safety.
It was their first league win in seven attempts and followed on from narrowly beating Falmouth in the Cornwall Cup the week before.
The Moorlands Lane club will be hoping these two wins will give the team confidence ahead of a tough period of fixtures coming up in November.
However, Saltash did have to survive some real nervous moments at King George’s Field.
Bideford looked like they were going to snatch victory with the last play of the game but they knocked the ball on with the try line at their mercy.
Saltash were 5-3 at the break with Kieran Down kicking their only points with a penalty.
But they went in front in the second period when young winger Joe Rider scored a try, which was converted by Down, who also added another penalty.
“It was a tense low scoring game, but the win was not undeserved,” said coach Nick Skinnard.
LEAGUE leaders Plymstock Albion Oaks nearly came unstuck at newly-promoted Topsham on Saturday.
Oaks did manage to get a 24-17 win, but only after Topsham were reduced to 14 men midway through the first half after picking up a red card for striking.
In the end the unbeaten visitors were grateful to the boot of Al Murray, who kicked 14 of their points, including four penalties.
“We were definitely rusty from the week off,” admitted player-coach Aiden Taylor. “I’m just glad we got over the line.”
He added: “It was tight. They (Topsham) were very good and credit to them, but we were very poor. We didn’t get out of first gear until the last 10 minutes.
“They blew us away in the first half and I think we got lucky with them picking up a red card after 20 minutes. If that hadn’t have happened I think they might have won the game.
“Their backs cut us to shreds at some points of the game, but luckily we had a good set-piece. Our line-out and scrum function throughout the whole of the game.
“But nothing else would click for us. We dropped the ball over the try line and every time we got some momentum we would knock it on or throw a 50-50 off-load. It was just a real hard day at the office.
“But good teams always have a bad day yet to come through it with a win is good. We would have lost that game last season by a country mile because we didn’t have a kicker, but Al (Murray) has scored something like 40 points in three games so he’s doing the job off the tee.”
Oaks conceded two early tries to trail 10-0, but Murray kicked three penalties to leave his side just a point behind at the break.
He then edged them in front after the interval with another kick before Topsham came back. However, tries by Taylor and Regan Spencer secured Oaks the win – their seventh on the bounce this season. They are the only team unbeaten in the league but Penryn, who they beat on the opening day, are now just a point behind them having picked up seven bonus points in seven games.
Plymouth Argaum travelled to promotion-hopefuls Torquay Athletic with a makeshift team and they were put to the sword by their south Devon hosts, who won 73-17.
Argaum coach Adrian Cameron, though, felt there were lots of positives despite the scoreline and was frustrated the team could not quite manage a fourth try to pick up a bonus point.
They did get three tries courtesy of two from Dan Smith and one by Joe Walker, but just could not grab a fourth.
“With about 20 minutes to go the score was about 40-17 and I said to the lads we just need one more try to get ourselves a point and get something out of this game,” said Cameron.
“I said we just had to go for everything, but then the game totally opened up. We were throwing everything at them to try and get out and every time we got turned over they scored. Also by that time, the boys were exhausted and Torquay put 33-odd points on us in the last 20 minutes and that was not a true reflection of the game.
“We did try so hard to get that final try and I was so proud of that.”
He added: “There were positives for us, but it was a bit like a training day for them (Torquay) to be fair. They were running the ball left, right and middle, but we showed some character.
“When you come to games like this when you are decimated by injuries and unavailabilities you just look for a performance and something to grab hold of. We had lots of new boys out there and the players really stuck to it.
“It was a nice day, a nice wide pitch and they (Torquay) could run the ball from everywhere. They played with lots of width and their set-piece was well organised and it was men against boys at times, but we did cause a few problems at times.
“Lots of lads that I haven’t seen play came up from the twos and filled some holes and some had great games, as did some of the stalwarts like Dan Smith, Joe Walker, Tom Holiday and Tom Bradshaw. All these guys really stood up.
“If we play them on a wet day at our place with a few players back then it might be a different matter.”
Tavistock stay in the bottom three after losing 31-8 at home to new boys South Molton.
Last year’s Devon One champions South Molton have adapted well to life back in the Cornwall/Devon League. They have only lost twice and that was to the top two – Oaks and Penryn.
Like in most of their wins this season, it was South Molton’s scrum that did the real damage at Sandy Park.
“We defended all game again,” said player-coach Hammy Kerswill. “It was a physical game and our scrum faltered.
“When we had ball in hand in the second half we looked good and Jack Easton scored a well-worked try from a turnover in our half.”
South Molton led 10-3 at half-time thanks to a Ross Crang try and a conversion and penalty from Callum Stone. Tavistock’s only points in the first half came from a penalty from Ed Nettleship.
Crang, George Whiting and Dillan Tuck scored further tries for the visitors after the break before Easton late consolation try.
Tavistock now face a big home match against fellow strugglers Withycombe next week. Withycombe lost 78-3 at home to Bude on Saturday.
There were a number of big scores in the league at the weekend and Liskeard-Looe were beaten 66-14 away at Honiton.
THERE were not too many smiles around after the big derby match between Tamar Saracens and Old Techs at the Parkway on Saturday.
Tamar Saracens may have won the game 17-6, but they were far from happy with the way they played. Their head coach Pete Lethbridge admitted afterwards they had rode their luck with four players getting sin-binned and giving away a host of penalties.
In the end Sarries were thankful that Old Techs had no sharpness or clinical edge in attack. Techs had nearly all the possession second half but could not turn it into points. They did miss three kicks at goal and were held up on the line twice, but they should have done more with their possession and punished Saracens for their indiscipline.
“It was a disappointing result,” said Techs head coach Jerry Josee. “Decision-making in the second half cost us. We tried to play them at their own game and we came out second.
“We had four or five opportunities and we just had to suck them in and then get the ball out wide and score in the corner, but we just didn’t take them.
“It was frustrating, but it is something to work on. The season is still young and so we’ll work on it and go forward.
“We need that clinicality of thought and movement. If we can get that we will be a very good side.”
“We basically came down to their level and got drawn into their game. When we went wide we looked really good, but we didn’t play to how we wanted to do.
“We were lucky they (Techs) weren’t clinical. I think we got out of a bit of a hole there.
“As they say, a win is a win, but there’s a lot to work on.”
One thing Lethbridge knows his team have to work on is their discipline. It has been an issue all season and cost them the game against OPMs.
“That’s something the boys have to sort out,” he said. “The boys should not be saying things to the ref. That could have cost us the game, so that is something we will work on in training.
“It was disappointing to say the least, but it’s a win.”
Sarries made a great start and were 10-0 up after eight minutes thanks to a penalty by Lewis Swatton and a converted try through the middle by prop Tom Hicklin.
But Techs got back into the game quickly and reduced the gap with a penalty by Joel Dicken on 10 minutes. He then missed two more attempts at goal in the first half while Sarries were a man down and Techs also could not take advantage of twice charging down kicks.
After the break, Billy Evans was adjudged to have been held up on the line after taking a quick tap penalty, but on 46 minutes Techs made it 10-6 with another Dicken penalty.
The momentum looked like it was with the visitors but they picked up a needless yellow card on 52 minutes and Sarries instantly made them pay when Scott Sheldon ran in under the posts and Swatton added the conversion.
Dicken missed another penalty on 59 minutes before Sarries were reduced to 14 again on 62 minutes. They were to play the rest of the game with 14 or 13 men as the yellow cards kept coming as Techs attacked. But Techs’ only real threat came from Matt Simmonds and Evans and Sarries made sure they doubled up on them. Evans did come agonisingly close in the 76th minute but the referee ruled he was held up again. Too often Techs tried to force their way through the middle when they had men out wide.
OPMs’ were brought back down to earth in Devon One when they were beaten 50-22 away at Torrington.
OPMs had won their last two games to move into the top half of the table, but they found Torrington, who were in the Cornwall/Devon League last season, too strong on the day.
Torrington certainly appear to have regrouped after two heavy defeats by Exeter Athletic and Exeter Saracens in their opening two games. They have scored 126 points in their last two home games.
OPMs were 24-3 down at the break, with Henry Matthews kicking their only points in the opening 40 minutes.
However, in the second half they did manage three tries courtesy of head coach Howard Turner, Mark Wratton and Mark Hardy.
Tom Scantlebury (3), Corey Tobyson (2), Tom Gooch and Mark Waterson scored for Torrington.
“It was very disappointing,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt. “We knew going into the game that they were very, very unpredictable, but we didn’t tackle very well.”
St Columba & Torpoint’s home Devon Merit Table game with Plympton Victoria had to be postponed after no referee showed up. The clubs tried to find a replacement official without any success and it was eventually decided to reschedule the game for another weekend.
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