IVYBRIDGE are just two points off a play-off place in the South West Premier after they crushed bottom side Old Patesians 50-7 on Saturday and second-placed Barnstaple lost 24-12 away at Devon rivals Exmouth.
It means third-placed Ivybridge have everything to play for next weekend when they make the trip to Pottington Road to take on Barnstaple.
Although Old Patesians were fighting for their lives, Ivybridge were in determined mood and made sure their visitors never got any momentum at Cross-in-Hand.
Tom Scoles, back in the Bridgers starting line-up, scored a hat-trick with three quick-fire tries just before and after half-time.
The Bridgers, who were 22-0 up at the break, ran in seven tries at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday. As well at Scoles’ three, Devon under-20 centre Will Lamont collected two, while Adam Northcott and Billy Pinkus also crossed the whitewash. Pinkus, who has been in impressive scoring form this season, also added six conversions and a penalty.
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services are expecting to have to make another trip to Keynsham after their South West One match was abandoned on Saturday after 63 minutes due to an injury to the referee.
The official was unable to continue after pulling his calf muscle and there was nobody else available to take over.
At the time Keynsham were leading 27-22, but fifth-placed Services, who could still finish in the top two, felt they had the momentum and would have gone on to win.
“There were 16 or 17 minutes left and we were in the ascendency,” said Services coach Mike Lewis. “We had scored 14 points to their three in the second half and were looking to keep going. We were only five points behind and had a couple of try scoring opportunities that we should have taken before it was stopped.”
Although Keynsham were trying to claim the result, Services were not prepared to accept it.
“We will go through the appeal process as the game was within one score and we believe we had a very good chance of winning the game,” said Lewis.
“In 16 minutes anything could have changed, which is why I think it has to be replayed. If we were 20 points down, I would say ‘congratulations you were the better team’, but that was not the case it was quite even throughout.”
He added: “We were not at the races in the first half. We arrived late after getting stuck in traffic and we didn’t seem to get off the bus until the second half, but then when we started turning it on.”
Services had already scored four tries before the game was ended earlier, with Matt Gregory, Andy Pond, Jonah Moore and Bentley Halpin crossing and Richard West kicking a conversion.
“We had two points but I think we would have gone on to pick up the full five,” insisted Lewis.
In Western Counties West, Saltash find themselves bottom of the table after losing 27-10 at home to second-placed Crediton.
The Ashes have been going through a tough spell. After beating Truro on January 12, Saltash were looking like they might go on to secure a mid-table finish on their return to level seven. But since then they have lost five games in a row and all the teams that were below them have found some form.
They are only four points off safety and only eight points off eighth place but with only five games left they quickly need to re-find their winning formula or else they will be dropping back down to the Cornwall/Devon League.
The Ashes paid for poor first half on Saturday, with Crediton extremely clinical in the opening 40 minutes as they opened up a 22-0 lead.
Ollie Avery-Wright, a mid-season arrival from Newton Abbot, put Crediton ahead. Back Devon Hosegood then scored a try, which Avery-Wright converted.
It got better for Crediton when Ollie Down touched down from long-range before second-row Josh Lee crossed from a catch-and-drive.
Saltash were better in the second half and they reduced the gap with a try by scrum-half Olly Mulberry.
Phil Eatwell added another near the end, but from the re-started former Albion player Mark Lee scored another try for Crediton.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will go into the final five games of the season knowing they still have a chance of snatching a top two place after beating Lanner 39-23 at home.
With Penryn and Bude playing out a 10-10 draw on Saturday the race for promotion is well and truly open.
Plymstock stay in fourth spot but they are just five points behind second-placed Honiton and four behind third-placed Bude, with both clubs still to play, as well as leaders Penryn.
Whatever does happen in the final five weeks, Oaks should certainly finish in the top four now as fifth-placed Torquay lost to South Molton at the weekend, which should also secure Plymstock a place in the Devon Intermediate Shield final.
Oaks were pleased to pick up another bonus-point win on Saturday, but they admitted they had to work hard for it against a determined Lanner side.
The Cornish visitors were leading 13-12 at half-time and were still in the game until the closing stages before Oaks pulled away.
The hosts scored six tries in total, with player-coach Aiden Taylor bagging two and Joe Brearley, Kieran Jamieson, Hayden Coles and South West under-18 player Pete Keanie, making his home debut, also touching down. Dave Byng and Tom Richards kicked the rest of their points.
“Scrappy,” was how Taylor described Saturday’s game at a windy Horsham Fields.
“It was a very weird game, but I always thought we were going to win it, but they (Lanner) didn’t stop; they just kept coming back and chipping away. They were 13-12 ahead at half-time.
“Credit to them, they fought for everything, dug in deep and put us under pressure at times and kept themselves in the game.
“But it’s another win and bonus point for us, so we can’t complain. We’ll just keep enjoying our season. We have over-achieved massively, but we have closed the gap again and it is so tight up there (at the top).”
While Oaks are enjoying success towards the top of the table, their city rivals Plymouth Argaum moved another step closer to relegation on Saturday after narrowly losing 18-15 to fellow strugglers Hayle at Bickleigh Down.
Argaum’s hope of escaping the drop are now incredibly slim. Although they have closed the gap to nine points on the Pirates Amateurs, who they still have to play, they now have to find a way to overtake both them and Hayle, who moved four points ahead of them.
Argaum’s remaining five games are Honiton (A), Bude (H), Liskeard-Looe (A), Penryn (H) and Pirates Amateurs (A). They would need to win three of them to have any real hopes of staying up which would be a massive ask considering they have not won since December 15.
“It has been a tough season all round,” said club chairman Nick Hancock, who made his playing comeback on Saturday following a heart-attack and a triple bypass operation last season. “We have had injuries left, right and centre and struggled with availabilities all season.
“But there is still a good feeling within the club even though everyone is disappointed with where we are and with this result.
“People are still catchable and we will still fight every game; we won’t give anyone an easy win.”
Saturday’s match was certainly there for the taking, but Argaum just paid for a poor 15 minutes after half-time when they allowed Hayle to score two tries through Freddie Carter.
“We have had a few of these winnable games but unfortunately it comes down to availability and availability at training, with people just not following the game-plan,” admitted Hancock.
In windy conditions, Argaum went ahead with a penalty on 15 minutes from Cheyenne Edwards.
Hayle had a man sin-binned at that time but the hosts could not take advantage and the Cornish club actually equalised while a man down with a penalty from Dan Lello.
Lello then kicked another penalty on 30 minutes to put his side 6-3 in front.
There was little excitement in the match until the final few minutes of the first half when Dan Smith used his power to score from close range. Edwards added the conversion to give Argaum a 10-6 lead at the break.
But Carter then scored twice within 10 minutes with powerful runs to put his side 18-10 ahead.
Smith got a second for Argaum on 62 minutes and there was still plenty of time left for the Roborough-based club to snatch victory. But, missing lots of key players again, they just could not find the spark to cut through Hayle, who also knew how important the win was to them.
Tavistock claimed a sixth successive win when they edged out Topsham 17-15 at Sandy Park on Saturday.
The hosts were missing a number of players, but Tavistock dug deep to claim the four points.
“We played a good plan B,” said player-coach Hammy Kerswill afterwards. “We had about five or six personnel changes and we did have to play a slightly different game, but we adapted really well.
“Our scrum did not function – they had the better of that – but our line-out was good and we showed we can play a different game.
“It was ugly and man-for-man they were probably better on the day but we probably played the game and conditions a bit better.”
Topsham went ahead early but Tavistock instantly replied through Charlie Charlton, who went over out wide after some good phases by the hosts. Rob Pratt converted well from the touchline.
Then Ash Toll finished off a good team try, but Topsham got one back before the break to leave the half-time score at 12-10.
Tavistock had to defend well early in the second before Conor Packwood, making his debut on the wing, scored an excellent try.
But Tavistock really had to dig deep in the final 20 minutes after Topsham pulled another try back.
The visitors were camped on the try line in the closing minutes but Jack Glover made a vital tackle to stop them and turn the ball over.
Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, Liskeard-Looe beat bottom side Withycombe 46-7.
TAMAR Saracens’ unbeaten run in Devon One continued on Saturday when they beat Totnes 32-14 away.
The Ernesettle-based club have not lost since December 1 and have hope of sneaking into the top three with four games left of the season.
They are currently fifth, 10 points behind Exeter Saracens, who sit in third, and only four points behind fourth-place Buckfastleigh, who have played a game more and who they meet next week.
Sarries managed to score six tries against Totnes, with Jordan Wilds scoring two of them, including a fine long-range individual effort near the end. Their other tries came from Dan Best, Tom Hicklin, Joey Pook and Richard Bush.
“It was a good win in terms of the final score,” said Sarries spokesman Marc Cioffi. “But they (Totnes) kept coming at us; they were no pushovers.
“We could have been a lot more clinical, but a win is a win. It is what we wanted going into Buckfastleigh next week.”
Old Techs once again showed they know how to score tries, but they could not prevent fourth-placed Buckfastleigh winning an entertaining game 39-27.
The first half at the Cricket Ground was tight, with the teams going in level at 8-8. Jack Williams scored Techs’ try in the opening 40 minutes to go with a penalty from Billy Evans, who played part of the game at hooker.
But in the first 20 minutes of the second half Buckfastleigh went on the rampage and went 39-8 up. However, Techs then found their form and scored three more tries through Peni Turua (2) and Dave Clack to claim a bonus point.
“It was a bit of a try fest again, although it was only 8-8 at half-time,” said Techs chairman Dave Smith.
“They (Buckfastleigh) really used their pitch second half going downhill and we just switched off for 20 minutes. We found ourselves 39-8 down but in the last quarter of the game we just wiped them out. It was a really weird game.”
Although they did not win on Saturday, Techs have scored 14 tries in their last three games against Buckfastleigh, Exeter Saracens and Totnes.
There was more disappointment for OPMs, who have dropped down to second from bottom after losing 45-7 away at Dartmouth, who were back at full strength after months of struggling for players.
OPMs said they missed too many tackled in the opening 60 minutes and found themselves 43-0 down, but they did finish strongly and scored a late try through Mark Hardie after some good carrying. Sammy Matts added the conversion.
Centre Jack Gordon scored a hat-trick for the hosts, who also had Karl Caunter, Will Lockerbie, Xavier Picot and Ricky Seymour scoring and Luke Chase kicking the rest of their points.