IVYBRIDGE missed out on guaranteeing themselves a top five spot in the South West Premier after losing 26-9 away at Bracknell.
Bracknell needed the win to secure their league status and they dug deep to come back from 9-0 down at the break to pick up a full five points.
It was a third successive defeat for fourth-placed Ivybridge, who have seen the teams below them close in on them.
However, if they could beat Brixham at home next week they would be certain of a top five finish for the first time and could also sneak into the Devon Cup final, if they also pick up a bonus point.
Ivybridge player-coach Jamie Tripcony admitted Saturday’s loss at Bracknell was frustrating.
“It was a tough one,” he said. “We went in at half-time 9-0 up and we were in the game for a long period, but it just got away from us at the end.”
He added: “You do get some frustrating times in rugby, but the effort the lads put in was second to none. We were just unfortunate that some of our line breaks we made the ball did not stick to hand, but we put in a huge shift and we will learn and push on.
“We’ve got Brixham at home and Camborne away. Brixham is a Devon derby and I am sure it will be a tasty one. We are looking forward to that one next week.”
Bracknell have won their last four games, including also beating Ivybridge’s Devon rivals Exmouth and Exeter University, to pull away from the bottom three.
Their win on Saturday, coupled with Cleve’s defeat, means they are now safe from the drop. Cleve have joined Newton Abbot and Old Patesians in suffering relegation.
Tripcony admitted Bracknell showed their desire to stay in the league in the second half.
He said. “They had some big ball carriers that were quite tough to handle at times and they got the rub of the green, but fair play to them, they took their chances and had a good rolling maul.”
Billy Pinkus kicked all Ivybridge’s points from penalties in the opening 40 minutes on Saturday.
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services slipped to a fourth consecutive defeat when they narrowly lost 25-20 at home to third-placed Newent on Saturday.
Services were missing a host of players, including captain Matt Gregory, props Joe Daley and Stuart, and Royal Navy back Rhys Williams, but were still left disappointed by the defeat, which was only their third at home this season – and their biggest.
“It was frustrating,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach. “Decisions went against us, especially at scrum-time where we were on top.
“We are not losing games by big points, but this week we made some errors in the wrong areas of the park. We coughed up silly penalties when we were in good positions.
“We have got two games left and we have to try and win them as we don’t want to fall any lower.”
Services currently sit in seventh place with two games left to play. They could still finish as high as fourth or as low as ninth.
Having been forced to make so many changes to their team they were slow in starting and struggled to get out of their half for the first 20 minutes.
However, they did keep in-form Newent out until midway through the half when the visitors scored after Services’ back Joe Wyatt had been sin-binned.
Devonport, though, hit back five minutes later when Sam Bennett scored in the corner from a line-out.
Controversially, Newent got a penalty at a scrum which they kicked to go 10-5 ahead.
But Services went in front for the first time when centre Bentley Halpin scored an impressive try under the posts from the 10-metre line, which Richard West converted.
However, just before the break, Newent broke through a ruck to score and make it 17-12 and Services also had West sin-binned on the stroke of half-time.
After the interval the visitors got another penalty, which they kicked to make it 20-12.
The visitors then picked up a yellow card and West kicked the resultant penalty to close the gap to five points.
Near the end Newent broke through and scored a third try to make it 25-15, but Devonport at least got a bonus point as, with the last play of the match, Ty Colwill went over in the corner from a line-out.
In Western Counties West, Adam Coutts scored a last-gasp try to secure Saltash an 11-10 win away at relegation rivals Paignton.
The victory keeps the Ashes out of the bottom three and could yet keep them up.
It has been a rollercoaster couple of weeks for Saltash, who seven days earlier had controversially lost to a last-gasp try against Kingsbridge.
Paignton now seem certain to be relegated, but the other two spots look like they will go down to the final weekend with Truro, Chard, Saltash and Bideford all fighting for their lives.
Saturday’s match at Queen’s Park was as tight as they come.
The much-travelled Alex Jeffery kicked a penalty to put Paignton ahead before Kieran Down kicked one for Saltash.
The game stayed at 3-3 until the final 10 minutes when the match suddenly came to live.
Down put Saltash 6-3 ahead with another penalty before Paignton thought they had won the game when Scott Vyle scored a try which Jeffery converted to put them 10-6 up.
But, with time almost up, Coutts, who had started the season at Tamar Saracens, managed to force his way over the whitewash for what could turn out to be the most crucial of tries.
PLYMOUTH Argaum’s relegation from the Cornwall/Devon League was confirmed on Saturday after they lost 80-0 away at Liskeard-Looe and Hayle beat Tavistock 26-19.
Argaum’s relegation after four years in the division has been coming for a number of weeks and they are no planning for life in Devon One, which is set to increase next season with Ilfracombe having applied to return after a year in the Devon Merit Table.
“We have started to plan for next season and have set our goals already for what we want to achieve,” admitted club secretary Stuart Quarterman.
“But although it is all about next season now and moving forward, we have still got games to play this season and we want to go out with our heads held high.”
Although disappointed to be relegated, Quarterman feels the club have done well to have stayed at level eight for four years after back-to-back promotions in 2014 and 2015.
“We can’t forget that and we are playing against much bigger clubs,” he said. “Although it is still the lower end of the league pyramid we have been punching above our weight for the last four years.
“When we won Devon Two, our focus was to stay up in Devon One, not win it. We shot up and to stay there (in the Cornwall/Devon League) for four years makes me proud of the lads and everyone who has been involved.
“We have been going to grounds like Penryn and Wellington – big teams – and we should be proud to have been in the league for four years.”
Argaum were disappointed to lose so heavily to Liskeard, but they had praise for their hosts.
“There were certain periods where our handling was really good,” said Quarterman. “But results have been showing they (Liskeard) have been improving and a couple of their young players were absolutely top-notch – a real class above.”
Young back Ollie Aggiss scored five tries for Liskeard. There was also a hat-trick for forward Adam Tyndale-Powell as the Lions ran in 12 tries.
Tavistock were disappointed they were unable to beat Hayle, that would have at least given Argaum another week’s grace.
“Hayle were up for it from the start,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill. “And poor decision-making let Tavistock down on a number of occasions.”
The west Devon club were 14-7 down at half-time with Andrew Schuttkacker scoring after a good break by Jack Glover.
Tavistock levelled the match at 14-14 after the break when Ethan Lamerton ran in under the posts to score.
However, Hayle responded to go 21-14 ahead before Glover sneaked over from the base of a ruck to close the gap to two points. Hayle, though, sealed the win late on with a fourth try.
Plymstock Albion Oaks could have a fight on their hands to secure fourth place in the table after they were beaten 52-7 away at Bude and Torquay overcame Withycombe.
Oaks are six points ahead of Torquay with two games to go. Plymstock’s matches are against Liskeard-Looe and Penryn and so will not be easy.
After slipping out of the promotion race the week before, Oaks had made changes to their team for Saturday’s trip to Bude.
Among the players to come into the side was Sam Waterfield at hooker, but he suffered an early injury that held the game up for nearly an hour and Oaks lost their way after that.
They found themselves 19-0 down at the break and it got worse after the interval, although high-rated young colt Pete Keanie, who earned South West under-18 honours recently, did manage to get a try.
LOCKIE CUP AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
Old Techs came back from 21-0 down at Weston Mill to beat the Peninsula Medical School 45-33 on Saturday and secure a place in the Lockie Cup final.
They will now meet Devonport Services II in the Plymouth Combination showpiece event on April 24.
But the Medics made them work extremely hard for their final place in an entertaining semi played in perfect conditions.
The students scored three tries in the opening 17 minutes through impressive full-back Henry Bunclark, centre Hugh Jones and scrum-half Owen Mitchell, who brilliantly converted all three.
Techs closed the gap to 21-12 before half-time with close range tries from Joe Bailey and Tony Lee.
And the hosts reduced the deficit further straight after the interval when Billy Evans showed strength and power to score.
But then the Medics found a second wind and scored two quick-fire tries through dynamic forward Dan O’Leary to make it 33-19.
Techs, though, refused to give up and tries by Phil Ingelson and Eddy Ramazani pulled them level at 33-33 each before Ben Lynch and Matt Simmonds sealed the win with touch-downs in the dying minutes.
Techs coach Jerry Josee said: “We were disjointed at the start as we had three players who did not turn up so we had to move people around and play people out of position. I think they were concentrating on that rather than listening to me about their style of play.
“We allowed them (the Medics) too much room. I said to them, you must close them down and not let them get across the gain-line, but we gave them room and they did get behind us – they did what they do well and all credit to them.
“At half-time I just said to them ‘you need to tighten it up in defence and to carry the ball a little bit wider because they are waiting for you inside’ and when we did that we started penetrating and getting behind.”
Josee felt Techs’ comeback showed the character of the team.
“It showed the club spirit and heart,” he said. “These guys will play for each other until they fall over. They are absolutely brilliant.”
In the Ellis Trophy, Saltash III beat Tamar Saracens II 30-0. Curtis Turpin impressed for Sarries but they were unable to get a try, although James Barlow should have scored.
Meanwhile, in the Devon Merit Table, DHSOB got a welcome win by beating University of Plymouth III 24-22 at Stonehouse Creek.
Lewis Jeffery and Sean Gates both scored twice for the home team, with JJ Hibbert and Mitchell Jordan kicking conversions.
St Columba & Torpoint stay in fourth spot, despite missing a last-gasp conversion in a 24-22 defeat to Tavistock II.