IVYBRIDGE will be glad to see the back of January after ending the month with a fourth successive South West Premier defeat.
The Bridgers, who had only lost three times in the opening four months of the season, went down 26-6 away at ninth-placed Weston-super-Mare.
For the first time this season, Ivybridge did not even manage to score a try – their only points came from two Billy Pinkus penalties – and the loss has dropped them back down to fourth in the table, with Maidenhead, who are their next opponents, overtaking them.
“It was very disappointing,” said player-coach Jamie Tripcony. “As a team we prepared well all week but unfortunately we came second best again.”
On what has gone wrong since the Christmas break, Tripcony said: “I’ve said it before, but I think we are just missing that little bit of belief. When you are winning it is brilliant and that becomes a habit, but when you lose three or four games you get out of the habit of winning.
“We just need to get a killer edge back at certain times.
“Defensively we started really well, but then they got a breakaway try and it was almost like a ‘here we go again’ kind of thing.
“Fair play to Weston; they played some good rugby. Their pitch is very wide and they played some nice stuff out the back to utilise that space.
“Our discipline was a bit of an issue – we got a yellow card which didn’t help us.
“Second half again we came back at it but unfortunately it was way too late. It was frustrating that we couldn’t unpick their defence.”
On not managing to get a try, he added: “We didn’t have much of the ball, although we had a bit more second half. It is tough to score points without the ball. Second half we did have it more and strung some nice phases together, but then the rain started pouring and it became a different game.”
Ivybridge now have a week off and Tripcony hopes that can help them regroup ahead of facing Maidenhead.
“We need to refresh our minds and get back to loving the game of rugby again as a squad,” he said. “Hopefully, this could be a nice break just to refresh things and mentally get ready for Maidenhead.”
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services are looking good for a top six finish in their first season in South West One after beating struggling Cullompton 40-10 away on Saturday.
The bonus-point win means there is now an eight-point gap between themselves and seventh-placed Hornets.
The victory at Stafford Park has also guaranteed Services will be in the Devon Senior Shield final against Okehampton on Easter Sunday, with league results this term also counting towards the county cups.
“It was horrible weather and the pitch was a bit boggy, but we did enough,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach. “We could have, and maybe should have, scored more, I think, but they defended well.”
Services made a great start against Cullompton and scored one of their best tries of the season in the opening minutes. It started with a scrum in their own 22 and Matt Gregory and Dylan Daley went down the blindside before Toby Knowles and Joe Semple were involved with the ball eventually finding its way to young full-back Toby Moss, who ran in under the posts. Richard West added the simple conversion.
Cullompton hit back with a penalty before Joe Semple scored a second try after picking the ball up at a ruck and simply running in. West converted his touch-down to make it 14-3.
And just before half-time Devonport scored a third try when Matt Gregory went over from a rolling maul following a line-out. West again converted to put his side 21-3 up at the break.
Straight after the interval flanker Will Marsh scored from another line-out after Sam Bennett had initially done well breaking off the maul. West, having a good day with the boot, again added the extras.
Marsh, running down the touchline like a winger, added another try after a quick tap penalty on the halfway line by West, who again converted.
Cullompton scored an interception try before Luke Kenny finished off the scoring with a try in the corner. West missed finishing with a 100 per cent kicking record as he was unable to convert the final tough kick.
In Western Counties West, Saltash had an afternoon to forget away at Wellington.
The Ashes were beaten 46-8 by the fourth-placed Somerset side, who have only lost three games this season since their promotion.
It was Saltash’s biggest defeat since their opening day loss away at leaders Sidmouth.
Most of Saltash’s games have been tight recently but Wellington were certainly up for Saturday’s match against their promotion rivals from last season.
The hosts scored four tries in the first half to led 22-3 at the break, with Saltash only able to add a penalty in the first 40 minutes.
The Ashes did manage to score a try against the division’s meanest defence after the break, but Wellington added four more.
TAVISTOCK caused a big upset in the Cornwall/Devon League on Saturday by beating high-flying Combination rivals Plymstock Albion Oaks 19-10 at a wet and windy Sandy Park.
It was only Oaks’ third defeat of the season and their first by a team not in the top three. It leaves them now seven points off the top two – Honiton and Penryn.
The key to Tavistock’s win – their third in a row – was their impressive scrum. In horrible conditions they used their set-piece to good effect and Oaks did not have an answer to it.
“It was a phenomenal victory,” said Tavistock player-coach Hammy Kerswill. “It was the best managed game we have had all season.
“It has to be up there as one of my favourite games in all the years I have played for Tavvy. However, with the amount of scrums we had you needed to be a forward to enjoy it!
“We did give a few penalties away early doors, but we managed the game really well and our scrum won us it. We were formidable up front from one to eight and when the bench came on as well.
“I counted nine scrum penalties and they had a sin-bin and that is what won the game for us really.”
He added: “It was so wet and so muddy and it was hard to keep hold of the ball, but we kicked relatively well and at nearly every penalty, no matter where we were on the pitch, we scrummed.”
Tavistock did have to come from 10-0 down with Al Murray kicking an early penalty for the visitors before they scored a converted try.
“I don’t remember any game in the last three years where we have been 10 points behind and came back to win, so that adds to why it was so good,” said Kerswill.
Charlie Charlton started Tavistock’s revival against Oaks when he scored from close range after a series of pick-and-goes.
The hosts did go down to 14 men for 10 minutes but they kept it tight and Oaks were not able to take advantage of having an extra player.
And Tavistock went in front just before half-time when Hallam Bourton, normally a flanker but playing in the wing on Saturday, pounced on a clever cross-field kick by scrum-half Hamish Dawson with the referee playing advantage. Andrew Craddock did well to add the conversion to put the hosts 12-10 ahead.
Tavistock sealed the win when Australian Dawson scored after another brilliant scrum.
“I’ve been saying all year that it is coming and now that’s three wins on the bounce,” said Kerswill.
Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor was very disappointed. He felt the conditions did play a major part in the result.
“The weather really played into their hands,” he said. “We just could not really do anything.
“We knew their scrum was going to be good and they must have got eight or nine scrum penalties. I got yellow carded for a scrum infringement and they capitalised on that to score while I was off.
“It felt they did everything to slow the game down; they didn’t want us to get any momentum at all.”
He added: “We took the lead and maybe we expected to just blow them away after that, which is an attitude thing and we will address that in training.
“It just was not a good day at the office.
“Tavvy were good at what they did – they just stuck it up their jumpers and kept it really tight and they made less errors than we did, which is why they won the game. They played the conditions well.
“We tried to still play our brand of rugby and move it around and the amount of times we dropped it when we were half through a gap was ridiculous.
“I do think if it was dry we would have moved it around and torn them to shreds, but in those conditions you couldn’t really do anything and we came unstuck.
“Fair play to Tavvy, they deserved it for the way they played the conditions.
“I was really impressed with Joe Walker on his debut. He got man of the match and was outstanding, but apart from that there was not too much to rave about.”
Taylor admits it will be difficult for them now to finish in the top two.
“We are going to sit down and have a team meeting this week and talk about where we go from now,” he said. “Personally, I think promotion is out of the window now. We just have to look to finish in that top four – that’s got to be the aim. We just have to try and win as many games as possible.
“You never know, we’ll just see what happens. We will just keep going and see where we finish at the end of the season.
“It has been a good year whatever happens. We have over-achieved massively this season, but it is now about getting everything in place for next season and proving we are not a one season wonder.”
Plymouth Argaum remain in the bottom three after they lost 34-10 away at Topsham with a makeshift team.
However, the good news was that they did not lose any ground with their defeat in Exeter as the two teams immediately above them – Lanner and Pirates Amateurs – also failed to pick up any points at the weekend.
Argaum, though, were left thinking about what might have been had they had a full team out.
They were really struggling to get 15 players to make the trip to Bonfire Field and club secretary Stuart Quarterman and veteran team manager Toby Liberson had to play. They have also now registered coach Adrian Cameron just in case there is another game where they struggling to get 15 on the pitch.
Despite the lack of players, Argaum had some really good spells and did score two tries through Dan Humphries and the impressive Tom Holliday.
“I know it sounds like I say the same thing nearly every week, but the scoreline did not reflect the game,” said Quarterman.
“We had massive selection issues, but Topsham did not know what had hit them in the first 20 minutes. Although it was only 0-0 we were all over them. We just got those key decisions wrong when we had done all the hard work.
“We could have been two or three tries up in the first 20 minutes, but then Topsham had a breakaway score, which we knew they were capable of. They scored two breakaway tries and the other three they did work very well.
“We did play to our strengths and we recognised our weak links in the side, ie me, and the other lads worked extra hard to do what they needed.
“We know we are capable of results and so it certainly is not all over.
“It is all hands to the deck now. We know we can score points and win games, we just need to make sure we fulfil the fixtures that everyone thinks we will lose and then we do have good availability for those targeted game we have to connect.”
Elsewhere, Liskeard-Looe had to dig deep away at Hayle to claim a 10-7 victory, which keeps them in seventh spot.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens’ pack produced an impressive display to secure them a 19-7 derby victory over Old Techs in horrendous conditions at Weston Mill.
Sarries’ scrum won them the match, which was played in driving rain and strong wind.
The visitors had the elements in their favour first half, but they didn’t really make use of them until the last 10 minutes of the period.
Techs had some good pressure in the first period and made a number of breaks but could not finish them off and against the run of play Mike Cox scored for the visitors after the hosts dropped the ball on their own line. Lewis Swatton added the conversion.
It looked like Saracens would go into the break just 7-0 up but in first half injury-time they added a crucial second try from a five-metre scrum when Joey Pook got the ball down and Swatton converted.
Techs, who did look dangerous when they got the ball wide, hit back at the start of the second half with a stunning try from debutant replacement Ratu Sanday, which Billy Evans converted.
But after that Sarries just kept hold of the ball so that Techs did not have another chance to run at them.
At every penalty or free-kick the visitors went for a scrum and, with the muddy surface making it almost impossible to get any grip, Techs would find themselves going backwards and would often be penalised again.
But the game was still in the balance right until the death when Sarries scored with the last play of the game from another good scrum, with Josh Heath grounding the ball to deny Techs a losing bonus point and secure Tamar their fourth successive win.
“The pack played absolutely superb,” said Saracens coach Pete Lethbridge. “I was really happy. Our scrummaging was good and our rucking and mauling was superb. The line-outs were a lottery because of the wind and rain, but I’m very happy with the performance. Our discipline was really good – we have been working on that in training.”
He added: “I thought we were in for a turnaround second half when they scored that try, which was a really good try, but we worked hard for each other, which is good.
“The game could have gone either way, but our forwards really showed up.
“We have got some decent backs – some fast boys out there – but in those conditions it was not a game for that.”
Techs coach Jerry Josee said: “It was extremely disappointing. Basically Saracens played the right game in the second half and we couldn’t get ball.
“Ten minutes into the second half we did get ball and we were gone. That was the game-plan, suck it up in the first half and attack in the second half but unfortunately we didn’t get the possession to be able to do that.
“All credit to Sarries – they played the right game in the second half and played extremely well.
“Our guys kept their discipline and we played some good rugby and on a different day it might have been a different result, but this time it went to the team that better forwards on the day.”
There was more disappointment for OPMs, who are still looking for their first win of 2019.
They narrowly lost 5-3 at home to Torrington after missing a late penalty that could have won them the game.
Heavy rain and a strong wind made try scoring chances few and far between in the first 60 minutes.
After a scoreless first half, OPMs took the lead 15 minutes from time with a Sammie Matts penalty.
But with eight minutes to go, Torrington got numbers down the blindside and Tom Gooch went over to put his side two points up.
OPMs did get a penalty late on and went for goal but as Matts went to kick it the wind came again.
“The wind was awful,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt.
“But it was a very even game and all the action happened in the last 20 minutes. We were very evenly matched sides to be fair.
“I can’t express how proud I was of OPMs. All we asked was that everyone went out and played with pride, played for the badge and their team-mates and that’s what we did.
“It is still disappointing, don’t get me wrong. It is always disappointing to lose. To be fair, I think I would rather lose 60-0 than lose 5-3. It hurts that little bit extra when it is 5-3.”
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria produced a good performance away at unbeaten high flyers Salcombe.
Although Plym Vic lost 29-7 to Salcombe they did win the second half and cause their hosts a lot of problems.
“The lads came off the park very, very happy,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “Obviously we would have been happier with a win, without a doubt, but to hold the top of the league to a reasonable score was good. We probably should have scored more. I think our pack out-packed them a little bit. The weather probably helped us as their pack is designed to get out quick.
“Maybe we probably could have done better reading the game – that’s our next evolution – but we just have to get the rudimentals right and we are starting to get there.”
He added: “Our defence was good – yeah, they did score four tries but a couple were really well worked – and our pack played really well. Our scrum was really good we won a couple against the head.
“We are starting to try and the moves we are working on in training and we are getting a little bit of consistency going on and a bit of belief.”
It was a memorable day for long-serving Plym Vic forward Kris Kinvig, who scored his first ever try for the club, which was converted by Zac Hoole.
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