BILLY PINKUS scored a hat-trick of tries as Ivybridge finally got back to winning ways on Saturday in the South West Premier League.
The Bridgers overcame third-placed Maidenhead 24-17 in an exciting game at Cross-in-Hand.
It was the South Hams club’s first win of 2019 and moves them level on points with Maidenhead and within seven of second-placed Barnstaple, who surprisingly lost 27-19 at Drybrook on Saturday.
After four consecutive defeats everyone at Ivybridge was just delighted to get a victory, even if it was a nerve-wracking one.
“The win was what we were after so we are very pleased,” said player-coach Jamie Tripcony.
“It could have gone either way, but fortunately it went our way. There’s still work-ons, as there are every week, but the shift that the boys put in, especially defensively, was second to none. They really worked hard for each other out there.”
A couple of crucial moments did go Ivybridge’s way in the second half.
“Someone said to me that the harder you train the luckier you get,” said Tripcony. “And it was about time we had a bit of the rub of the green, but I also think we created those opportunities.
“We are confident with our skill level but it’s about whether we are willing to go to a dark place for each other and we certainly did that on Saturday.
“It was all about getting that win and making sure that the graft that we put in during the week stuck. The things that we had worked on were really evident, which is pleasing.”
“We had a lot of frustration and we were quite desperate – we just needed to get that win,” said Tripcony. “It was good to see the guys reacted extremely well.”
Winger Pinkus did steal the show with three well-taken tries in the corner. He has now scored 19 in the league this season.
“He still had a lot of work to do for some of those tries,” admitted Tripcony. “But don’t forget the guys that grafted to create the space for him.”
He added: “It is really important the boys enjoy the win and then come Tuesday we will start preparing for Newton Abbot.”
Ivybridge dominated the opening 15 minutes. Damon Akerman came close in the fourth minute before Matt Grieveson had a try disallowed on 11 minutes. But within seconds of that the hosts did take the lead when Pinkus showed his pace and strength to go over in the right corner after Ivybridge ran back a clearing kick.
But going behind seemed to wake Maidenhead up. They should have scored on 17 minutes but dropped the ball with the try line at their mercy. However, they did go in front on 33 minutes with a converted try by Dave Cole from a scrum.
Maidenhead were still leading 7-5 at the break, but straight after the interval Ivybridge went back in front when they were awarded a penalty try following a good drive from a line-out. The visitors also had a man sin-binned.
But despite going a man down Maidenhead, who have England World Cup winner Will Greenwood as back coach, hit back with a try by Will McCauley from a quick tap penalty to make it 12-12.
That became 17-12 when scrum-half Perry Jansen spotted a gap from another good scrum by the visitors.
However, Ivybridge were in determined mood and they responded with a good try by Pinkus in the corner after good pressure to level the match again.
Maidenhead wasted another great chance on 64 minutes before they had a try disallowed four minutes later.
And Ivybridge made the most of the let off by going up the other end and scoring through Pinkus after a good chip and chase and off-load by Lewis Paterson. Pinkus also brilliantly converted from the touchline to crucially put his side seven points in front.
Maidenhead were held up on the line in the 76th minute and Ivybridge had to defend really hard for a couple of minutes before they got the ball back and kept it well to run down the clock and claim the vital win.
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services continued their hot form with a 47-22 win over Thornbury at the Rectory on Saturday.
It was the third game running they had scored 40 points or more in a match and they are beginning to close the gap on the teams in front of them.
Although they stay in sixth spot, they are now only two points behind St Ives in fifth, three behind fourth-placed Newent and six behind Bridgwater & Albion in third.
“We did everything right and were on the front foot right from the start,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach after Saturday’s win.
“We could, and probably should, have scored a few more points as well.
“Our scrums were good, our line-outs were good, our mauls were good – we were on the front foot with everything we did. We didn’t take a backwards step.
“We did give away a couple of silly tries but apart from that everything was good.”
Services made an impressive start and prop Stuart Main got them off the mark when he charged down a kick and picked the ball up to score the game’s first try, which Richard West converted.
Thornbury, who had beaten Services 29-14 at their place in October, kicked a penalty to reduce the gap to four, but before long Devonport had scored a second try. West saw some space on the open side and put in a great chip kick which centre Rhys Williams read well to collect the ball and score under the posts. West added the easy conversion to make it 14-3.
Devonport did make a couple of mistakes and Thornbury hacked a loose ball forward and won the race to score under the posts and cut the gap to four again.
However, before the break Services added a third try when hooker Sam Bennett scored from a good driving maul from a line-out. Thornbury were also reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Devonport came out for the second half in determined mood and got the all-important fourth try quickly when flanker Will Marsh cut a good a line to crash over under the posts. West converted to make it 26-10.
That become 33-10 not long later when dangerous young scrum-half Dylan Daley took a quick penalty and side-stepped the last man to touch down under the posts for another easy conversion for West.
The hosts did have a clearing kick charged down to give Thornbury and easy try and then West was controversially sin-binned.
But, despite having a man less, Services increased their lead with a pushover try from Matt Gregory, which Matt Neyle-Opie converted in the absence of West.
It got better for Devonport when Tyler Busfield caught the re-start and made a break before feeding Daley, who showed good speed to get to the corner just in time. Neyle-Opie brilliantly converted from the touchline to make it 47-10.
Thornbury did score a late consolation effort, but it did not take the gloss of a good performance and win for Services.
In Western Counties West, Saltash find themselves anxiously looking over their shoulders again after losing 26-13 to rejuvenated Bideford at Moorlands Lane.
The win has moved Bideford out of the bottom three and 10th-placed Saltash are now just two points above the relegation zone.
Saltash have now lost their last three matches and they will need to get back to winnings ways next week when they travel to 12th-placed Chard, who sit in the final relegation spot – two points below the Ashes.
In heavy conditions on Saturday, Saltash did start well and had plenty of territory and possession before they took the lead in the 12th minute with a try by centre Ben Hocking, which fly-half Kieron Down converted.
But that try seemed to spark Bideford into action and they responded almost immediately with a try by Will Copp, which Chris Snell converted to level the match.
Down kicked a penalty to edge Saltash back in front, but back came Bideford, who took the lead for the first time when prop Richard Norman went over from close range and Snell converted.
After the break, the north Devon side scored again with Jamie Giddy touching down and Snell converting to make it 21-10.
Down kicked a penalty to close the gap on 50 minutes.
Saltash tried everything to try and get something out of the match but in the closing stages Bideford’s Dean Folland went over in the corner for a bonus point try for them.
AUSTRALIAN Hamish Dawson marked his final appearance for Tavistock by claiming the match-winning try in their 12-7 victory away at South Molton.
It was Tavistock’s fourth win in a row and that impressive run of form has taken them from sitting in the relegation zone to moving 14 points clear of it.
Scrum-half Dawson and fellow Australian Doug Morgan-Thomas have played a major role in club’s revival, but both were playing their final games for the Tavistock on Saturday.
“On a mud-bath of a pitch we managed to pull out the victory we wanted to send Hamish and Doug of with,” said Tavistock coach Hammy Kerswill. “It was really, really nice to send them off in that way.
“They have made a massive difference to us. Where they have made the most difference is just bringing everyone together and bringing that belief that the players have now got.
“We now need to prove we have not been carried by two players. That hasn’t been the case whatsoever, but those two have helped make us, if that makes sense – they’ve got everyone’s belief up.
“Hopefully, next week when we go to Withycombe we can make it five in a row.”
Kerswill admitted Tavistock’s impressive defence won them the game at South Molton.
“We defended really, really well,” he said. “They (South Molton) do attack around the fringes quite a lot and it is quite readable, but when a team has blokes that big and strong and they put together that many phases it does take its toll. But we defended so well.”
Tavistock, playing down the slope first, led 5-0 at half-time with Dawson feeding Andrew Craddock to go score.
But after the break, South Molton went in front when Reece Eury touched down and Callum Stone converted.
South Molton tried to build on that but Tavistock, with full-back Jack Glover impressing, refused to let them in again.
And the visitors went back in front when Dawson intercepted a pass from the base of a South Molton scrum on their own line to score. Craddock converted to put them five points ahead.
“The rest of the game they were pretty much in possession but our defence just held strong,” said a delighted Kerswill.
Although they stay in fourth place, they have move a point closer to the second place spot, with Honiton not picking up a bonus point in a narrow 12-10 away win at Liskeard-Looe.
After a frustrating 19-10 defeat in their last outing at Tavistock, Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor was just delighted his team found their form again on Saturday.
“It was a good result,” said Taylor. “We tore them to shred at times. Our backs were electric and we just played in all the right areas.
“We were back to our best again and moved the ball really well. It was nice to see.
“When it is dry we back ourselves to move the ball. If we play like we did at times in this game, I believe, we can beat any team in the league.”
Oaks scored three touch-downs in each half – all from different scorers – to seal their 16th win from 19 league games.
Their tries came from Taylor, Tom Richards, Hayden Coles, George Hamblin, Joe Brearley and Tim Coats, with Al Murray kicked five conversions.
Relegation-threatened Plymouth Argaum will have taken plenty of heart from their performance against fifth-placed Torquay Athletic at Bickleigh Down.
Although Argaum narrowly failed to get anything out of the game, losing 17-7, they did totally dominate the scrums and defended really well against a side that had put 73 points on them away.
Their efforts on Saturday probably deserved at least a valuable bonus point but they didn’t get one despite finishing strongly. They now have to make sure they show the same spirit and determined next weekend when they travel to Lanner, who sit three points above them in the table.
If Argaum fail to beat Lanner then their hopes of avoiding the drop will diminish as the Pirates Amateurs did beat their fellow Cornish strugglers on Saturday to move nine points clear of the drop zone.
Torquay, missing some front-row players, really struggled in the scrums but they managed to go in at the break 10-0 up.
Ben Spears scored a fine individual effort for the visitors before captain Jake Bury went over from close range.
Spears added a second after the interval to put Torquay 17-0 up, but then Argaum really pressed in the final 20 minutes.
They had a number of great chances before captain Dan Smith did score a late try, which Rory Dingemans converted.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OLD Techs and OPMs both had afternoons to forget on their travels on Saturday.
Techs lost 26-5 at Torrington, who had started the day with an identical playing record to them, while OPMs went down 38-7 away at Totnes.
On a heavy pitch, Techs just found Torrington’s forwards too strong for them on the day.
Torrington did like Tamar Saracens had done a couple of weeks early and just kept the ball tight and kept it away from Techs’ dangerous backs.
“We are light on forwards but have loads of backs, which is really weird as for years it’s been the other way around,” said Techs chairman David Smith.
“In the backs we had the beating of them, but we were starved of a bit of ball really. They just kept it tight and kept it in their forwards.
“It was a little bit frustrating, but they are not a bad side and it is a horrible place to go to and try and win.”
The hosts scored four tries courtesy of Mike Wigley, Cory Hynd, Jamie Todd and Charlie Bazell, with Tom Gooch adding three conversions. Techs’ only points came from a try by recent signing Watisoni Raduabale.
The tightness of Devon One means Techs have dropped from fifth a few weeks ago to eighth with Totnes and Torrington moving above them.
Neither Totnes nor OPMs had won in 2019 going into Saturday’s game, but it was the hosts who comfortably ran out winners at Borough Park.
Totnes bagged six tries, with Jamie Mitchelmore getting three of them. Aaron Bartlett, James Ruddock and Si Parrish also touched down for the hosts.
OPMs were only able to manage one score with came through Matt Mann.
It was Plym Vic’s third win in five games since the start of the year and keeps them moving up the Division Two South & West table.
Teenager Ethan Pringle, playing alongside his dad Lee, scored a hat-trick of tries for the visitors, with Mark Hagan and Sam Stockdale crossing twice and Mark Hart also going over. Zac Hoole kicked three conversions and Stockdale one.
“We played really well,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “The lads pulled it together and there was a lot of good, cohesive rugby going on. We played to the plan.
“There was a spell in the middle where they all started to think they were Serge Blanco, but we managed to get the message on to get back on plan and it was a really good performance.
“It was a good day at the office. The lads have been working hard in training and they are starting now to translate that on to game days. They are also starting to get that confidence as they are seeing the things they are trying to do work and we are also starting to get some results going.”
DHSOB were unlucky with injuries and ran out of players towards the end.
Elsewhere in the Division Two South & West, St Columba & Torpoint were handed a home walkover by Kingsbridge II, while leaders Salcombe beat Plymstock Albion Oaks II 91-0 and Argaum Wanderers handed Torquay II a walkover.
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