IVYBRIDGE had to make do with a losing bonus point as they went down 30-24 to champions Bournemouth in an entertaining match at Cross-in-Hand.
Having taken an early lead through a converted try by captain Charlie Briant, fourth-placed Ivybridge found themselves 21-10 down and then 30-17 behind, but they kept going and pushed Bournemouth all the way.
The defeat does make it hard for the Bridgers to snatch second place and a promotion play-off spot. They are now seven points behind Maidenhead, who took over second spot on Saturday after hammering Barnstaple 45-10.
However, even if they are not able to make the top two, Ivybridge could still secure their highest finish in league rugby if they were to win their remaining three games.
Player-coach Jamie Tripcony, though, is not looking that far ahead.
“Our target is just to prepare as well as we possibly can for our next game which is Bracknell,” he said.
“What will be, will be. We just have to focus on the next game and the rest will take care of itself.”
On Saturday’s narrow defeat, Tripcony said: “It was a little bit disappointing. It is always tough to lose a game. However, the lads played really well in stages. It was just a lapse of concentration here and there and one or two calls that did not go our way.
“But fair play to Bournemouth, they came at us with a game-plan and played really well. They took the opportunities they had to sneak it.
“We have to look to next week and learn from our few little errors this weekend. But what we will be looking to take into our next game is our courage and work-rate from this weekend, which was massive. The guys absolutely dug in and worked so hard. Hopefully, we can take that into next week and get some charge from it.”
Briant got two tries in the match. As well as opening the scoring he also crossed at the start of the second half. Billy Pinkus converted all three of Ivybridge’s tries and also added a first half penalty to continue his impressive season.
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services coach Mike Lewis has called on his team to finish the season strongly after slipping down to seventh in the South West One table after losing 29-10 away at Lydney.
It was Services’ third defeat in a row having also narrowly lost at Keynsham last week and against promotion-chasing Launceston the Saturday before.
They now have three games left – all against sides ahead of them – to try to secure a top six finish, which has been their target all season.
“We don’t want to be settling for mediocrity or lower spots,” said Lewis. “We want to be attempting to get as high as we can.”
Lewis was frustrated on Saturday as his team once again failed to perform away from home.
“It wasn’t great,” he admitted. “We have mentioned before about our away form and we are nowhere near as good as we are at home. I think it is a mind-set problem.
“We don’t seem to put as much effort in away from home and we are probably 10 per cent off the pace and that affects our decision-making.
“Our communication also wasn’t very good this week – we were quite quiet. If we had talked a bit more in defence we might not have slipped off a couple of tackles and had we talked a bit more in attack we wouldn’t have made a couple of knock-ons.”
He added: “When we are at home it is easy for players to get around the corner as you have your mates cheering you on and people in the stand and you don’t want to look silly. But on the road when we’ve just got three supporters on the touchline then people can just hide a bit.
“We have to rectify this away form thing. We thought it was maybe the food they were eating on the way up, so we organised better food for them, but we have slumped back into this repetitive cycle.”
Although Lydney had much of the play in the first half for a large part of the opening 40 minutes there were only two points in it. However, Lydney scored with the last play of the half to take a 12-3 lead. Richard West had kicked Services’ only points in the first period.
“We were pretty much defending the whole of the first half and every time we did get the ball we would make a mistake, which was really frustrating,” said Lewis.
“Yet we knew we could still get back into the game. We knew we had the quality in attack to get there, but we just did not organise well enough.”
Services, who were missing captain Matt Gregory, only managed one try, which came right at the end when Mikey Johnson scored in the corner and West converted.
The one positive for Services was that they were able to get three senior sides out on Saturday and both their seconds and thirds won.
In Western Counties West, Saltash suffered heartbreak when Kingsbridge snatched a 17-14 victory after scoring with the last play of the game at Moorlands Lane.
Fortunately for the Ashes only Truro out of the bottom five sides won so they stay out of the relegation zone, but they could have been in a good position had they just held out for the win.
Kingsbridge’s late victory means they are now virtually safe as they have now moved eight points clear of the drop zone.
The South Hams club made a great start and scored almost immediately from kick-off when hooker Jake Vincent touched down.
But Saltash eventually got going and prop Adam Coutts put in fellow front-rower Liall Honey to score and Kieran Down converted to make it 7-5 after 30 minutes.
The hosts went in at the break 14-5 ahead when Harrison Reburn scored under the posts after good play from a scrum and Down converted.
The second half was a tight affair and neither side were able to take any opportunities that came their way.
With 10 minutes to go, Kingsbridge closed the gap to 14-10 when flanker Dan Jarvis crossed for an unconverted try.
That really put the pressure on Saltash and gave Kingsbridge hope.
The Ashes thought they had done enough to win but with the last play of the game the visitors broke down the right and fly-half George Banfield scored a match-winning try, which he also converted.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks look like they will have to settle for fourth spot in the Cornwall/Devon League after losing 35-20 at home to second-placed Honiton.
Oaks, who started the day five points behind Honiton, knew they had to win to keep up their hopes of sneaking into the top two and winning promotion.
They did get off to the perfect start and were 20-3 up at half-time with Tim Coats, Joe Walker and Hayden Coles scoring tries. But they could not keep it up after the break and Honiton, led by Jason and Nathan Hannay, stepped up a gear and showed why they are through to the RFU Senior Vase semi-finals.
The visitors scored four tries in the second period, with Jason Hannay getting three of them. Their other came from Alex Brooks.
“The first half was the best half of rugby we have played – we were so good,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“But in the second half we just didn’t get the ball and when we did we gave it back to them.
“However, we will take a lot of positives from the game. Our set-piece worked well, which didn’t at their place, and we were in the game and should have won.
“Our performance was massive and that first half was insane. The second half we just ran out of a bit of energy and fitness told as we had a few injuries.”
He added: “We should get fourth and at the start of the season we were looking for top six, so fourth would be excellent. We do want to qualify for the national cup. If we do that, it will have been a cracking season.”
Tavistock got back to winning ways after their heavy defeat at Torquay in their last outing by beating Lanner 27-19.
“In the end it was a well-fought win but we made it very hard work,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill.
After going 5-0 down early on Tavistock levelled when Sam Eaton finished off a good team score.
Tavistock’s back-row impressed with ball in hand and eventually the visitors went ahead when Leione Cole scored after the hosts stole a line-out.
And they ended the first half in style when Andrew Craddock showed good finishing to add a third try for Tavistock, which Rob Pratt converted.
However, the second half did not start well for the home club and Cornish side Lanner, fighting hard for points, went back in front with two converted tries.
In the final quarter, Pratt kicked a penalty to edge his side ahead again before Andrew Schuttkacker bundled over the line after Tavistock had taken a quick tap penalty. Pratt brilliantly converted to seal the match.
Plymouth Argaum handed third-placed Bude the win before kicking off at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.
Argaum, who seem certain for relegation, were struggling for players and thought they were only going to have 14. However, a 15th did arrive just before kick-off but they still played the game as a friendly, which Bude won 59-0.
The match was quite tight for 30 minutes, but once Bude got a couple of tries up their confidence grew while Argaum tired.
The hosts, however, did see plenty of the ball and did have some good pressure in Bude’s half but they were unable to get any points.
Bude ended up with nine tries, with Gus Hodges getting three, his brother Rory two, and Tremaine Fry also got two. Their others came from Ollie Denford and Aaron Gilroy. Denford converted seven of the nine.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens extended their winning run to 11 games with a 31-7 victory over Dartmouth at the Parkway.
They led 17-0 at the break. Dan Best got them off the mark in the opening 10 minutes when he scored out-wide after unselfish play by full-back Frazer Tatchell, who had an impressive game.
Sarries dominated the next 20 minutes but could not turn their pressure into points. However, on 31 minutes a second try finally came when a great run by forward-of-the-match Adam Corbett put in Josh Heath to touch down.
And Heath got another try just before half-time when he went over after some good recycling by the hosts. Lewis Swatton, who picked up the back of the match award, converted.
Dartmouth, with a reshuffled pack, started the second half strongly but Joey Pook scored from a five-metre scrum to increase Tamar Saracens’ lead.
The visitors did get on the scoreboard in the 64th minute when winger Connor Doneathy crossed in the corner and Luke Chase converted.
But the last word went to Sarries with Jordan Wilds adding a fifth for them.
“It was a great win,” said Saracens’ Marc Cioffi. “Within the first five minutes you could tell the forwards were really up for it and they were setting up some great plays for the backs.”
Old Techs were frustrated they did not at least return from promotion-chasing Exeter Athletic with a bonus point.
Techs scored three tries against the Athletic in a 43-20 defeat, but they had another try at the end of the first half disallowed.
“At half-time we were really in the game,” said chairman Dave Evans. “We had a try disallowed on the stroke of half-time that would have put us in front and there was nothing wrong with it. It was frustrating. I think they would have won anyway, but we would have gotten a bonus point out of the game.
“We were in the game right until the last 20 minutes but because of our lack of numbers – we only had 17 including (coach) Shaun (Bedford-Smith) – and we just got tired and they scored a few points at the end to make the score quite flattering, I think.
“But all in all we performed really well and there were a lot of positives from it.
“They are second in the league but I believe if we had our strongest side we would have pushed them a lot closer – if not beat them. I suppose that is easy to say, but we can certainly take a lot of positives from our display. The boys that turned up played really, really well.”
Both sides only scored one try apiece in the first half, with Ben Lynch, playing at centre in the absence of Matt Simmonds and Dave Clack, scoring for Techs and Dean Meldon crossing for Exeter.
In the second half the game opened up with seven tries – two for Techs and five for Exeter.
Jope Qeva and Peni Turua crossed for Techs, while Dan Haywood, Lee Davis, Dan Mather, Dan Lock and Reid Mawdsley touched down for Exeter.
There were plenty of positives for struggling OPMs in their 21-12 defeat away at third-placed Exeter Saracens.
The match was all-square at 7-7 at half-time. Dom Lovesey scored a try and conversion for Sarries, while Mark Hardie touched down for OPMs after a brilliant 50-metre run by Matt Thompson and good support play from Huw Moorgraft and Billy Garratt. Sammie Matts added the conversion for OPMs.
The hosts got in front after the break with tries in the corner by Jason Shelbourne and Paul Edwards, which were both brilliantly converted by Lovesy.
But OPMs came back with a second try by Hardie after the visitors put together multi phases. They then put Sarries under some intense pressure. The home team, though, defend well to secure the win.
“Credit to Exeter Saracens for their defence,” said OPMs captain Garratt. “Phase after phase they fronted up and tackled well.
“Our hands just let us down this week – we made far too many silly errors either in contract or when passing. But defensively we were in their face and not letting them play or letting them get the ball wide.”
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria lost 27-14 to Plymstock Albion Oaks II. They got a penalty try and Sam Wilmington also crossed the whitewash, which Zac Hoole converted.
Plym Vic had to begin the game with 14 due to a late arrival and they paid for a slow start.
“We got ourselves sorted in the second half, but in the first half we were just not quite together,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “We gave them more possession then they should have had and we were quite as tight in defence as we have been recently.
“But the second half they didn’t score. I think we actually won the second half 7-0.”
Elsewhere, DHSOB lost 43-3 at home to a strong Torquay Athletic II side, while St Columba & Torpoint were handed a walkover by Plymouth Argaum II.