IVYBRIDGE player-coach Lewis Paterson admitted his team were ‘very poor’ as they slipped to a 17-10 defeat at third-from-bottom Drybrook.
The defeat means they have lost further ground on leaders Bournemouth and have dropped to third in the table, although they are level on points with second-placed Barnstaple.
Ivybridge just never got going in Gloucestershire, but did get a bonus point when Damon Akerman crossed for a late try after Billy Pinkus had added an earlier one.
“We were very poor,” said Paterson. “And that’s no disrespect to Drybrook.
“Drybrook is a tough place to go. They are a tough side to beat at home. They are very gritty and have an incredible 10, who can put the ball whether he wants. But we just gave away penalties all day.
“I just think we went in with the wrong attitude and we were not as hungry as the Ivybridge side we have tried to establish and that came back to bite us.”
Ivybridge had won their three games in December, but Paterson refused to blame the Christmas break for their disappointing display on Saturday.
“We have a no excuse culture,” said Paterson. “We are not going to say having the Christmas break was tough as we had the whole of the summer off but came back from that.
“We knew it was going to be tough, but we just did not turn up and we were so ill-disciplined.”
However, he admitted that at least picking up a losing bonus point was a positive.
“To play so poor and still come away with a losing bonus point is a reflection of our character,” he said. “We know we can improve on the skills and technical stuff, but it is the heart and willingness to keep going that is the difficult thing, but we did show that.
“Even when we were putting ourselves under pressure, we still kept going and kept defending.
“Hopefully, come next week we will put a lot of wrongs right.”
SOUTH WEST ONE & WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
SUMMER signing Matt Neyle-Opie scored a second half hat-trick of tries as Devonport Services kicked off 2019 with a 32-5 home win over Devon rivals Teignmouth.
The former Plymstock Albion Oaks winger had an injury-hit first half of the season following his summer move, but he certainly made his mark on Saturday with three touch-downs.
The victory keeps Services in sixth place in South West One, but they are now only four points off third spot after winning their last three games.
Devonport struggled to get going in the first half and only led 10-0 at the break.
“We weren’t clinical enough first half,” said team manager Kieran Leach. “We probably should have kept the scoreboard ticking over but we went for line-outs instead of kicks.”
They did score early when centre Rhys Williams went over in the corner and Richard West added the conversion.
West then kicked a penalty to make it 10-0 but that was their only joy in the first half. However, after the break they ran in four tries.
Neyle-Opie increased their lead when he got the ball after West and put a high kick in and the former county sprint champion showed his pace to score in the corner to make it 15-0.
He then added a second after a good eight-nine move from a scrum put him in to make it 20-0.
The hosts then had Andy Pond yellow carded after Services were warned by the referee and from the resultant penalty, relegation-threatened Teignmouth took a scrum and scored.
But that was as good as it got for Teignmouth, who had shocked St Ives before Christmas.
Services immediately hit back and young centre Jonah Moore hit a great line following a line-out to crash over under the posts for an easy conversion for West.
And in the closing stages, Neyle-Opie completed his hat-trick when he intercepted a pass in his own 22. He had to do a bit of juggling to keep hold of the ball but once he had it under control there was no way Teignmouth were going to catch him and he ran the length of the field.
“He showed unbelievable pace,” said Leach afterwards.
“It was a good win to start to the year.”
SALTASH had to settle for just a losing bonus point from their home match against fifth-placed Tiverton.
The game was tight all the way through but Tiverton, with former Championship players Tom Skelding and Ed Lewsey in their side, crucially managed to get two scores in front in the 72nd minute and the Ashes just could not come back and snatch it.
Tiverton came out strongly and former Albion and Exeter scrum-half Lewsey gave them the lead in the ninth minute.
But Saltash gradually got into the game and started to get on top. They went in front when flanker Phil Eatwell scored after good play by prop Simon Nance. Fly-half Kieran Down added the conversion.
Tiverton, though, went 11-7 up at the break with two penalties from Adam Willows, who played for Ivybridge last season.
And the visitors went further ahead after the interval with a converted try by Alex Pike.
But the momentum of the match changed again and Saltash pulled it back to 18-14 with a try by full-back Ryan Cruickshanks, which Down converted.
The next score was going to be crucial and it went to Tiverton with Willows going over for a try out wide.
But Saltash refused to give up and got a bonus point when Down kicked a penalty in the 75th minute.
Although the Ashes stay in 11th spot despite the defeat, they are now only one point clear of the relegation zone, although they are only four points behind ninth-placed Falmouth, who have lost five of their last six games.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks kept up the pressure at the top of the table with a 44-15 win over city rivals Plymouth Argaum at Bickleigh Down.
However, Oaks had to work a lot harder for their 13th win from 15 games than the scoreline suggests.
Argaum, in 10th spot, battled really hard and were only three points down with 20 minutes to go. But Oaks got four tries in the final 15 minutes – two with the last two plays of the game – to give the result a flattering look.
Argaum played better than they had for a while and they were left frustrated by the final scoreline.
Oaks, though, were just delighted to get another win and do the double over their rivals.
“It was the first game back after a big break for Christmas and it was hard work,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor, who scored two second half tries.
“We did get sucked into their rugby, but we came good in the end.”
He added: “We had some issues at scrum-time, especially on our line. We didn’t perform in the scrums, but our line-out, mauling game and close-quarter stuff was excellent. When we got a maul going they couldn’t handle us.
“We were buzzing to get a bonus point as we have not had one for a while, so for me that was a real positive.”
Argaum were keen to take the positives out of their performance rather than the final scoreline.
“Deep down we know we played really well,” said Stuart Quarterman.
“But no matter what anyone else thinks, the lads and anyone who was there will know how tough that game was.”
He added: “That is probably the best performance we have put in for a bit, possibly since beating Topsham.
“We showed we are a good side, like Oaks are. They have some good players and play a good brand of rugby.”
In front of a decent-sized crowd at Bickleigh Down for the derby clash, both teams were fired up and there were plenty of big hits and competitive rucking.
Oaks had the first bit of pressure and took the lead when former Argaum player Al Murray kicked a penalty on six minutes. But on 12 minutes Argaum equalised when Cheyenne Edwards kicked one of his own.
The first try came six minutes later and came courtesy of Devon forward Tim Coats, who crossed from the back of a five-metre scrum. Murray converted to make it 10-3.
But then Argaum had a good 15 minute spell and they levelled again when winger Lewis Roddy slipped through two tackles to score a fine try down the left wing. Edwards brilliantly converted from out-wide.
Oaks, though, finished the half strongly and deep in injury-time Coats scored a second try from close range to put his side 15-10 up at the break.
Murray increased that to 18-10 after the interval, but back came Argaum. Roddy nearly scored again down the wing, but was just pushed into touch. But the hosts did finally get a second try 10 minutes later when Tom Holliday scored from the back of a five-metre scrum to close to within three points with 20 minutes to go.
Argaum did have the upper hand in the scrums, but Oaks dominated the line-outs and used their catch-and-drive game well. They used that to score their third try in the 66th minute with hooker Taylor getting the ball down.
And seven minutes later Taylor added a second when he broke off a drive to dive over in the left corner in the 73rd minute to give his side a 30-15 lead.
It looked like that would be the final score, but Argaum went looking to see if they could at least snatch another try, if not a bonus point, and they were caught in the fifth minute of stoppage time when they had a pass intercepted and Ben Hadfield ran in from long range to score under the posts.
Most thought the game would end after Murray’s conversion, but the referee decided there was time for one more play from the restart and Oaks took the kick and ran it in through Regan Spencer for another converted try.
Despite the defeat, Argaum stay in 10th spot and are now only a point behind Lanner, who were docked five for failing to travel to Honiton on Saturday.
Tavistock are still one place and three points behind Argaum in 11th spot after they lost 48-19 away at promotion-chasing Penryn.
Tavistock were missing a number of players but felt they played some good rugby and were frustrated they did not pick up a bonus point for scoring four tries.
They did get three tries but could not get all the all-important fourth in Cornwall.
Penryn did take control in the first half and were 24-7 up at the break. Tavistock captain Andrew Schuttkacker scored the visitors’ only try in the first half.
After the break, hooker Phil Wilson, who was having to play in the centre on Saturday, capped a fine game by scoring under the posts. Tavistock were also awarded a penalty try with five minutes to go after some good scrumming.
“We were chasing four tries,” said player-coach Hammy Kerswill. “We got out of our half with the clock in red but just couldn’t put together the final few phases to get that fourth try.
“But we put together some really good stuff with a lot of absentees, but ultimately their depth and pace out wide was the telling factor.”
Elsewhere, Liskeard-Looe moved up to seventh spot by beating Topsham 19-17 at Lux Park.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens have moved up to fifth in Devon One after a hard-earned 17-9 win over bottom side New Cross at the Parkway.
Sarries had not played for more than a month due to a walkover, a postponement and then the Christmas break and they were not at their best on Saturday but did enough to win.
They scored two unanswered tries, but needed a late penalty by Lewis Swatton to totally make the game safe.
Man-of-the-match Tom Rigby and Scotty Sheldon scored tries for Oaks, with Swatton converting both and putting over the late penalty. All New Cross’ points came from the boot of Ryan Wotton.
“I think it did tell that we had not played for a month,” admitted Sarries player Marc Cioffi. “We were rusty. People’s hands were not as sharp as they should have been and there were lots of knock-ons, but we’ve played a game and won and dusted off the cobwebs.”
New Cross had beaten OPMs in their last match to claim their first win of the season and Cioffi feels they have improved since earlier in the season.
“I think we played a better team than when we played them before and convincingly won,” he said
“They are such an unpredictable team and you can’t take your foot of the gas for a minute, but we got a win.”
Sarries have gone one point ahead of city rivals Old Techs who had to make do with just a bonus point from a thrilling match with promotion-chasing North Tawton.
North Tawton, who have only lost once this season, won the match 34-24, but Techs’ Billy Evans will long remember the fixture as he scored all his side’s points with four tries and two conversions.
“North Tawton are so good at counterattacking,” said Techs chairman Dave Evans. “Their support running is really good. They have second-rows who are as quick as their backs.
“I think we were 19-0 down but we have got fight and never give in and I thought we did really well.
“I thought we kept possession really well in the second half. We kept it tighter than normal as we got wise to the fact that we couldn’t give them space.
“We dominated for large parts but they are really clinical.”
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria started the new year in fine style by running in six tries to beat Tavistock II 36-14 at King George V Playing Fields.
It was only Plym Vic’s second win of the season and their biggest by far.
They did have their best availability of the season and were able to even help Tavistock out after they had some late drop-outs.
Zac Hoole scored two tries for hosts, with Nathan Couzins, Jamie Hough, Sam Wilmington and replacement Sam Stockdale, making his first appearance of the season, also crossing. Wilmington also added three conversions.
St Columba & Torpoint were without a league game but played a club match against Liskeard-Looe, which they narrowly lost 14-13.
Cooke scored both Liskeard’s tries, with Dolman crossing for St Columba, who had Hobbs kicking a conversion and two long-range penalties.
OPMs also had a club match on Saturday at Salcombe, which they won 21-17.