IVYBRIDGE’S hopes of sneaking second spot in the South West Premier League and retaining their Devon Senior Cup title suffered a blow on Saturday by losing 21-12 away at county rivals Barnstaple.
A late penalty try sealed Barnstaple’s win and also denied Ivybridge a losing bonus point in a scrappy, tight affair that saw five yellow cards – three for the Bridgers and two for the hosts.
The defeat has dropped Ivybridge down to fourth place in the table, six points behind second-placed Barnstaple, with four games to go.
Maidenhead have moved up to third but they meet Barnstaple in their next game so there is still an opportunity for Ivybridge to make the play-offs, but they would need to beat already-crowned champions Bournemouth in their next match.
Ivybridge’s hopes of reaching the Devon Cup final are also now out of their own hands. They need to beat Brixham in their final derby game and hope the Fishermen overcome Exmouth in their next match.
Saturday’s clash at Pottington Road was a typical derby game. Barnstaple led 7-0 at half-time after Kevin Angell had scored a try and former Albion captain Jake Murphy had converted.
After the break, Ivybridge hit back with a try by Devon Under-20 centre Will Lamont, but the hosts went 14-5 ahead thanks to a converted try by George Snell.
Lamont bagged a second, which Billy Pinkus converted, to pull the Bridgers to within two points. But in the closing stages Ivybridge, who’d had Ben Watts sin-binned in the first half, picked up two yellow cards and had a penalty try given against them.
Afterwards Ivybridge player-coach Jamie Tripcony said: “It was a real good West Country derby – it had all the ingredients. I’m not sure either team got into full steam, but I guess that’s because it was a derby.
“Full credit to Barnstaple, they had a game-plan that worked well for them and it was hard to defend against. Fair play to them, they took their chances, played some good field position, they had a good scrum and a very good driving maul.”
The Ivybridge squad were frustrated not to at least get something out of the match.
“It just wasn’t to be,” said Tripcony. “I think we played well enough for long enough to get something out of the game, but we didn’t, so we will lick our wounds and crack on.
“Things don’t get much easier as we have Bournemouth at home in a fortnight’s time. We are just going to push on and look at that next game. We never look any further than the next game and we are not going to change that now.
“We are going to be prepare as well as we can to make sure we can try and bounce back from this.”
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services also suffered penalty try frustration in a derby match as they narrowly lost 26-22 at home to Launceston in South West One.
The visitors, with their set-piece impressing, were awarded two penalty tries at the Rectory as they claimed a vital win to keep their hopes of promotion alive.
The victory means the Cornish All Blacks stay in second place behind Okehampton and have moved 20 points clear of fifth-placed Services, who have five games left to play.
Saturday’s game at the Rectory proved to be a thriller with the lead changing five times.
Services had gone 7-0 down but tries by Stuart Main and Will Marsh, both converted by Richard West, put them 14-7 ahead. Launceston, though, levelled before Services went back in front with a try by Tyler Busfield.
The visitors responded again before West kicked a penalty to make it 22-21, only for Launceston to come back again and snatch a match-winning try.
“It was a pretty close game,” said Services’ head coach Mike Lewis. “Both sides played well and it was a good game for a neutral to watch as it was end-to-end.
“I think we probably dominated defence and attack, but our set-piece was just not good enough. They got quite a few penalties at scrum time and we missed quite a few line-outs, so we just didn’t have that platform to play off.
“But apart from that, we played some great rugby and really tested them. If we had been better in the scrums we could have won it.”
He added: “They got two penalty tries. One was definitely a penalty try, but the other most certainly wasn’t.”
Services also felt Launceston’s first try in open play should not have stood as their try scorer was in an off-side position when they kicked the ball forward.
Devonport’s second team, though, did have better luckk as they beat their Launceston counterparts 28-10 at home, while the club’s colts overcame Okehampton 36-31.
SALTASH are out of the relegation zone in Western Counties West after claiming an impressive 39-7 win away at Falmouth.
It was their first victory since January 12 and has lifted them from the foot of the table up to 10th.
The fight to stay up looks like it will go to the final week of the season with just six points now separating second-from-bottom Truro from eighth-placed Kingsbridge and only one point between 10th and 13th.
Saltash’s bonus win at Falmouth, though, will have really boosted them ahead of games against relegation rivals Kingsbridge, Paignton and Winscombe in their final four fixtures.
The Ashes enjoyed a great first half on Saturday. They led 20-0 at the break. Kieran Down kicked a couple of early penalties to put them 6-0 ahead before scrum-half Olly Mulberry touched down on the left and Down converted.
Just before half-time, lock Aidan Marshall scored his first league try for the Saltash, which Down converted.
And it got better for the visitors after the interval with flanker Kyle Felton grabbing the all-important fourth try, which Down again converted. Down then got a try himself and also added the extras to make it 34-0.
Falmouth did get a consolation try, but Joe Ronayne had the final word for Saltash.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks were relieved to return across the Tamar with a 31-29 win at relegation-threatened Hayle.
The Cornish club could have snatched a draw with the last play of the game but they missed a conversion after scoring a last-gasp try.
Fourth-placed Oaks really had to dig deep for this win that keeps them in the promotion race going into the final four weeks of the season.
Twice in each half they went two tries down but came back to pick up a full five points.
“We really made hard work of it,” admitted player-coach Aiden Taylor. “They (Hayle) were quite good.
“We went two tries down early doors. We just didn’t get off the bus. I think we were too focussed on a social afterwards.
“But we clawed our way back into the game with a couple of tries from Joe Brearley and Dave Byng.
“Then second half they race ahead again with another two tries and we just could not get a foothold in the game. It took us until the last 15 minutes to start really playing and then we scored three tries.
“We thought we had won the game but the next thing we know they have a scrum in the last couple of minutes. We have taken it against the head but the ball has come out of the scrum and somehow it has gone over the try line. All we had to do was touch it down for a 22 drop-out but somehow they got in and scored. They had a tough conversion to draw, but thank God they didn’t get it. It was a nail-biter.
“But it’s a five-point win on the road. It was scrappy but we’ll take it.”
After Brearley and Byng’s tries in the first half, Taylor, Byng and Reegan Spencer crossed in the second, with Byng kicking three conversions.
However, Oaks’ win came at a cost with a number of injuries, including a suspected broken ankle to George Hamblin.
Tavistock’s six-match winning run came crashing to an end as they were beaten 48-12 away at fifth-placed Torquay Athletic.
“We were poor,” admitted Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill afterwards. “The few players we had missing did leave us with gaps. Our defence was not up to scratch and we slipped off too many tackles.
“It was one of those off-days, but we will address it and build for Lanner.
“Torquay made the best use of their turnover ball and finished most of their tries from distance.
“I would say we have beaten better teams in our mini run over the last two months but they capitalised when they needed to.”
In the first half, Tavistock found themselves five metres out on four occasions but were only able to finish off the last one when Andrew Craddock forced his way over.
In the second half, Ash Martn went over for a rare try, which Rob Pratt converted, but that was as good as it got for Tavistock.
Struggling Plymouth Argaum endured another tough away trip on Saturday when they crashed 80-3 at promotion-chasing Honiton.
Second-from-bottom Argaum were once again scratching around for a team to travel away. They managed to get a side out, which featured a number of 50-year-olds, but they ran out of players in the last quarter and had to play with 14.
They were relatively competitive in the first half against a strong Honiton side, who led 33-0 at the break. The hosts, though, ran away with it in the closing stages finishing with 12 tries and 10 conversions. Argaum’s only points came from a second half penalty from Ben Baggot.
Elsewhere, Liskeard-Looe pushed leaders Penryn to the wire at Lux Park before narrowly losing 29-27.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens head coach Pete Lethbridge was disappointed with his side’s 13-13 draw with fourth-placed Buckfastleigh at the Parkway on Saturday.
Saracens, unbeaten since December 1, could have overtaken Buckfastleigh in the Devon One table had they won, but Lewis Swatton missed a penalty kick with the last play of the game that could have secured them victory.
The Ernesettle-based club also failed to turn pressure into points at vital stages of Saturday’s clash. They had been 13-3 up at half-time, but Buckfastleigh really dug deep in the second half and a late Harry Laity penalty pulled them level before Swatton’s last-gasp miss.
“I think we played well enough to win it, but a couple of decisions went against us.
“We did make hard work of it first half; we should have scored more tries.
“We had a lot of pressure in their 22 but either messed up or dropped the ball. I think we just tried too hard or possibly had a bit of white-line fever.
“But we are still unbeaten this year, which is a good thing, but I’m disappointed, and I think the boys are too, that we didn’t win.”
Buckfastleigh did have a man sin-binned in the second half on Saturday but Sarries failed to add any points during the time he was off the field.
“We didn’t capitalise on that when we should have,” said Lethbridge. “I think we made a few wrong decisions in the red zone.
“I know I shouldn’t be disappointed as we didn’t lose, but I am.
“We were missing a few players, but everyone can say that. We just have to move on to next week now. We have an RNEC cup game against DHSOB next week.”
Saracens went 6-0 up in the first 19 minutes with two Swatton penalties after some good pressure in the 22.
Laity reduced the gap on 23 minutes with a successful kick of his own. Saracens should have scored at least two tries before they did finally get one in first-half injury-time. It looked like they had blown their chance when they appeared to knock-on right on the try line but the referee was unsighted and ruled they had been held up and from the five-metre scrum, Saracens’ pack got the push on and Joey Pook picked up at the base to touch-down. Swatton added the conversion to make it 13-3.
However, Buckfastleigh hit back straight at the start of the second. They turned Saracens over in midfield. The hosts felt it had been done illegally but the referee played on and Jake Symes showed good pace to score in the right corner and Laity brilliantly converted to reduce the gap to just three points.
Nine minutes later Buckfastleigh had their hooker sin-binned but they defended their line brilliantly with 14 men. In the 79th minute the visitors were awarded a penalty and Laity calmly put it over to level the game.
Yet there was still time for one more chance for Sarries to snatch the win. They won the ball from the restart and attacked and got a penalty 30 metres out almost in front of the posts. Swatton had been successful with all his other attempts at goal but kicking towards the estuary, where there was a strong wind in, his kick just went inches wide.
Old Techs ran riot against a depleted Dartmouth side on Saturday, running in 13 tries to claim a 73-0 win at Weston Mill.
It was Techs’ biggest victory since their return to Devon One and was a perfect way to celebrate their sponsors and old boys’ day.
Speedy winger Peni Turua scored four of their tries, with number eight Sam Courtney bagging three, Ratu Sanday two and Matt Simmonds, Jack Williams and Billy Evans also chipped in with touch-downs.
Dartmouth had travelled down without a front-row or any replacements but seventh-placed Techs were grateful they did make the trip.
“They didn’t have a front-row and so they had lost it before the start,” said Techs chairman David Evans.
“Their coach was apologising afterwards, but I said he didn’t need to do. We were just grateful they fulfilled the fixture, as they didn’t need to do. They were struggling and they could have easily said they were not coming down and just given us a five-point walker, but fair play to them for coming and fulfilling the fixture.”
Evans added: “Our problem has been our set piece but we didn’t have to win a scrum this week but ironically, this Saturday we actually had two front-row replacements.
“I think we needed the win. After last season finishing bottom of Devon One we want to show that we have progressed. I think we have beaten or pushed most sides close. If we can keep our players together then maybe next season we can push on again.”
By fulfilling the fixture Dartmouth stay one point ahead of second-from-bottom OPMs, who lost 35-7 to promotion-chasing Exeter Athletic.
Although OPMs did lose again, they were a lot more positives this week for them against the league’s second-placed side.
Exeter were leading 21-0 at half-time with three converted tries. They then added two more after the break before OPMs came to live and put them under quite a bit of pressure and were rewarded with a try from Pete Reagan, which Sammie Matts converted.
“I told the boys I didn’t care about the score, I just wanted them to play for the badge and the lads next to them,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt. “And that’s exactly what they did. There was a decent last 15-20 minutes from us where we kept Athletic pinned in their 22. Our line speed in that time was spot on which then led to Pete catching an interception and scoring.”
In the Devon Merit Table, DHSOB pushed Kingsbridge II hard at Stonehouse Creek before losing 22-17.
Kingsbridge were struggling to get a full team out but came out quickly and the Old Boys had to play catch-up.
Tries by Billy Richards and Jason Roberts and two conversions and penalty by JJ Hibbert got them to within a score but they could not quite snatch the win.
“It was a pretty close game,” said DHSOB coach Steve Chapman. “We just didn’t start in the first 20 so then we were running uphill from there.
“But it is slowly but surely turning the corner for us and, hopefully, we can keep build the seniors up for next season.”
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