IVYBRIDGE player-coach Lewis Paterson says his side are ‘hungry’ to get a win this weekend against Bracknell after back-to-back narrow losses.
The Bridgers have dropped down to third in the South West Premier standings after going down 31-25 to Barnstaple and then 20-10 away at leaders Bournemouth.
Bournemouth now have an 11 point lead at the top, with Barnstaple and Ivybridge both level on points in second and third.
Paterson felt his side could have won both their last two games, but now he is just hoping they can see off an unpredictable Bracknell team, who beat Exmouth last weekend.
“They (Bracknell) are a side that can really take teams to the wire,” said Paterson. “We are going to have to be on our game but we are so hungry after two tough losses.”
He added: “We were good against Bournemouth but just weren’t clinical enough. They were certainly beatable and so there’s a lot of frustration there, but we can’t let that overwhelm us.
“We have to know that if we stick to our basics and game-plan then we can knock teams for six, which we just didn’t do that against Barnstaple and Bournemouth. They were big teams that we should have beaten but we just came up short in the races. But we have a good side out this weekend and I think we will be hungry for that result at home.”
Ivybridge are able to welcome back Luke Martell, Robin Luscombe (pictured), Ben King and James Sloan, but Paterson is set to miss the game.
Ivybridge do have a busy a few days ahead of them. On Friday evening a club XV will play Torbay Sharks at Cross-in-Hand (7.45pm) and then on Monday another club XV will take on a Plymouth Albion development side at Keyham.
“It will be a good opportunity for boys who are in the wings and those players coming back from injury,” said Paterson.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST & WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
Services have lost their last two games against Launceston and Lydney to drop down to seventh in the standings.
Newent are one point and two places behind them in the league, having played a game less.
The Gloucestershire side are renowned for their home form. All five of their victories this term have come on their Recreation Ground pitch, including a 18-16 win over high-flying Okehampton.
“I’ve spoken to other coaches in the league and they say they (Newent) just play their pitch at home really well,” said Services’ coach Mike Lewis.
“By all accounts the pitch is in the middle of a park and has a slope on it, which is something they are used to playing.
“We know they are a lot better at home than they are away and it is our longest trip of the season.
“We have to try and adapt our mentality this week to try and make sure we can get on top.
“But I like games like this; I think they’re brilliant. They really test character.
“We are going somewhere new, which a lot of guys look forward to. Matty Anstis has been nearly everywhere but this is somewhere new for him and so he’s looking forward to it.
“Going somewhere unknown is fantastic as you have nothing to go off. It is just about who can play the best on the day.”
Services were disappointed to lose their unbeaten home record last week, going down 20-17 to Lydney.
“We thought we were going to get back on track last week but we were just unfortunate with a few decisions around the scrums and breakdowns,” said Lewis. “If we had got the rub of the green then we would have probably comfortably won. But everything was just right for them – the wind, rain and mud. They are a big old side and it was made for them.
“The week before at Launceston we attacked really well but our defence was not good enough.
“Hopefully, we can marry a bit of both of our last two games together and try and edge this one, but it is not going to be an easy one and I think it could be a three-pointer either way.”
Services are boosted by the return of front-row forward Joe Daley (pictured) from holiday, but they are set to be missing Luke Kenny and Will Marsh, who both picked up almost identical shoulder injuries last week.
Meanwhile in Western Counties West, Saltash will be hoping to boost their chances of staying up with a home match against bottom club Paignton.
If the Ashes could claim a fifth win in six league and cup games they would close the gap on the teams in the middle of the table.
They are currently four points off 11th placed Chard and are only eight behind sixth-placed Falmouth with a game in hand.
Their match at Kingsbridge last weekend was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, but the two teams immediately above them – Chard and Wadebridge – suffered defeats so the Ashes did not lose any ground.
Paignton, who finished ninth last season, have struggled so far this campaign. They have lost their last five games. Their only wins have come against fellow strugglers Bideford and Wadebridge, although they did earn a surprising draw with Tiverton earlier in the season.
Bude took over from Oaks as the new league leaders last weekend after they overcame Plymouth Argaum 43-0 and Plymstock were surprisingly beaten 48-12 away at Honiton.
That was Oaks’ first defeat of the season and ended a run of 10 straight wins from the start of the campaign.
Player-coach Aiden Taylor has told his team to forget about last week’s loss and concentrate on what they had been doing right before their trip to Honiton.
“We just have to wipe it (last week’s defeat),” said Taylor. “We are a good team. We are where we are because we play good rugby and we just need to continue what we have been doing.
“If we beat Bude we go back top. We don’t know that much about Bude only where they are in the league. But hopefully we have a few boys back and hopefully we can go back to the top of the league.”
Plymouth Argaum have a special day planned at Bickleigh Down on Saturday for their important league match with Liskeard-Looe.
Argaum were Liskeard-Looe’s first opponents when the Cornish club were founded in 1956, but Saturday will be the first league meeting between the sides.
The host club are celebrating ‘Argaum Day’, marking the 215th anniversary of the Battle of Argaum with their annual PAPPA (Plymouth Argaum Past Players Association) event and first players’ supper also going on that day.
Influential forwards Dan James and Calum Mills should both be back after long-term injuries, while there could be debuts for new signings Adam Walker and Ben Burkes.
The two clubs sit next to each other in the table, with Liskeard in ninth and Argaum in 10th.
Argaum have lost their last three games and so are pretty keen to return to winning ways, especially with a trip to Penryn coming up next weekend.
“It is going to be a tough game,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “We have never met before in the league, but we did play them in pre-season friendly last year and they were very impressive and went on to have a great season. They have come into the league and got points where you would expect them to. I imagine there won’t be much between us.
“We have got good availability this week, even though we still have some players missing.
“We have had a run of tough fixtures, but I was massively impressed with our performance away at Bude last week even though we lost 43-0. The players put in a massive shift and Bude had to work really hard for all their points.
“We have got Argaum Day this weekend and the PAPPA event at lunchtime followed by a double-header. We have good links with Liskeard-Looe but this is the first time we have played them in a league game. It is nice that it has fallen on this weekend.”
Tavistock will be hoping to pull away from the bottom three this weekend when they host Hayle at Sandy Park this weekend.
Hayle are one point and two places below Tavistock in 11th spot, but the Cornish club have picked up form in recent weeks, winning two of their last three games.
They enjoyed an impressive 49-34 win over top six side South Molton last weekend and beat Argaum 47-21 also at home. In between them games they pushed Oaks hard at Horsham Fields before losing 48-23.
Tavistock, who also only have two wins to their name this season, will certainly not be taking them lightly.
“Hayle beat us twice last year and can be more threatening than their results read,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill.
“Last week turning over South Molton is a huge result regardless of what either team fielded.
“The weather is going to play a huge part and I’m not sure who it will favour as we have played every game this season in good decent conditions, so it will be a good team of our versatility.
“We are at home and need a big win.”
Tavistock do have the option of playing at Mount Kelly if their pitches are waterlogged. They do have quite a few players back in contention, including Charlie Charlton, Phil Wilson, Sam Northmore and Sam Cox.
Jamie Legg, Ben Luke and Jack Jones, who impressed at Lanner last week, are set to keep their places. Australian Hamish Dawson will continue at scrum-half after producing a man-of-the-match performance.
“Last week was very positive,” said Kerswill. “The boys thought the difference was probably the second half when we went down to 13 due to losing two front-rows late on. To lose by five away at Lanner is promising though as they are a good side at home.”
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
Last weekend, OPMs narrowly lost 13-10 in extra-time in the Devon Junior Cup quarter-finals at King George V Playing Fields.
The match was level 10-10 after 80 minutes and the full period of extra-time could not be played due to bad light.
OPMs were disappointed to lose, but they took plenty of positives from their performance and will travel to Exeter in confident mood.
“We’ll go there with our heads held very high,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt. “We’ll be looking for the same type of performance.
“It would have been nice to have won (last week) and advance in the cup, but the main thing was seeing who they (Exeter Athletic) are and how they play.”
Old Techs have signed two new players ahead of their trip to Dartmouth in Devon One.
Commandos Alex Browning, a lock/back-row, and scrum-half Matthew Lee have joined the Weston Mill side.
Browning is originally from Plymouth and played junior rugby for Argaum before going into the forces.
Techs are also boosted by the return of a number of players, including Tom Blythe, James Douglas, Simon Raymont and Johnny Young, but they are without Tony Luxton, Jon Giles, Jack Courtney and Sean Doyle, while Dan Bartlett has been ruled out until the new year after requiring a further operation on his finger.
Dartmouth sit in fifth spot, two places and two points ahead of Techs in a tight league. Both clubs have got three wins out of seven.
“We know it will be a hard-fought game, especially away from home,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“We have had some really good battles against them in recent years. They have got some good players, but we are looking forward to going there.
“We’ve got a bus going up and are going to stay there for a few drinks.”
Tamar Saracens are also on their travels in Devon One. They head to fourth-placed Buckfastleigh looking for their first win since October 20.
“We have not played them for a number of years, not since we were in Devon Two about four seasons ago” said Sarries spokesman Marc Cioffi.
“They are a bit of an unpredictable team. We know a win is coming, it is just our discipline that has been letting us down.”
Sarries held a player and coaches meeting this week to go through their aspirations and what they need to do to go forward. They are confident they will start getting wins, just like they started to do in the second half of last season.
“Last year we had a massive turnaround at Christmas,” said Cioffi. “And I believe we are going to do the same this season.”
Saracens are boosted by the return of young forward Scott Cooper following an ankle injury and Alex Israel, but they are missing fly-half Lewis Swatton this weekend.
In the Devon Merit Table, DHSOB will host Plymstock Albion Oaks II at Stonehouse Creek in only their second home league game of the season.
DHSOB had pull out of last week’s trip to Torquay Athletic due to injuries and players away, but they are able to welcome back a host of players this weekend.
“We have got 18 at the moment this week,” said coach Martyn Ruskin. “We’ve got a couple of new players and we’ll be trying different combinations.
“We always said up until Christmas every game would be a learning process.
“We know Oaks have got good depth and quality and we might not be the strongest, fastest, fittest and technical able but we have to use our brains and try and use their weakness against them.”
New signing Ryan Summer is set to make his debut for the Old Boys.