IVYBRIDGE paid the price for a disappointing first half in their Devon derby match with big rivals Brixham at Astley Park on Saturday.
The Bridgers lost 40-29 to the Fisherman, who stay third-from-bottom of South West Premier despite the five points.
With just a couple of minutes to go it was all to play for with Brixham just 33-29 ahead but the hosts sealed the win with a late score.
But Ivybridge, who went into the game on the back of wins against Bracknell and Barnstaple, will look back on a frustrating opening 40 minutes.
Brixham, who have recently brought in Davy McGregor and Devon Jewsbury from Plymouth Albion, found themselves 26-5 up at the break in the joint league and Devon Senior Cup match.
Ivybridge did try their best to produce a remarkable comeback but the hosts, with former Ivybridge players Lewis Paterson, Billy and Mitch Pinkus and Scott Puleston in their team, held on to claim their second successive win.
Winger Jack Bond gave Brixham an early 7-0 lead but Ivybridge did close that to two points with an unconverted try by Jay Toogood.
Ben Watts was then sin-binned for the visitors and while he was off Brixham scored a second try through Callum Smith to go 14-5 ahead.
That became 19-5 not long later when Billy Pinkus, who was Ivybridge’s top scorer last season, crossed for the Fishermen.
A fourth try soon followed through centre Tom McLean to put Brixham 21 points up at the interval.
Brixham found themselves down to 14 men at the start of the second half and Ivybridge got back into the contest with a try by hooker Jay Geraty.
Robin Luscombe then added a third and the visitors appeared to have the momentum. That, however, was interrupted when Ed Goodman touch-down for Brixham.
Ivybridge, though, showed battling qualities to come back again and two George Wilson tries left them within a score.
But their hopes of sneaking a memorable win ended when prop Russ Morris crossed the whitewash in the dying seconds.
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services notched up another vital home win when they overcame in-form Hornets 23-20 at the Rectory on Saturday in South West One.
Hornet had arrived unbeaten since September 21 and sitting just one point behind Services, who went into the weekend top of the table.
Although Devonport, who missed out on a bonus point, have lost top spot to the team they beat last week – Thornbury – they do have a game in hand and have opened a four point gap between themselves and third-placed Hornets.
Saturday’s game ended up kicking off late after Hornets got stuck in traffic on the way down from Somerset.
And there was nothing to shout about in the first half as both teams cancelled each other out in the top-of-the-table clash.
“The first half was like a boxing sparing session,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach. “We were both trying to attack but both defending well so there was not much to say about it.”
Services should probably have scored in the first half. They had three penalties but on each occasion opted not to go for goal but could not make the line-outs tell.
Hornets, who had beaten Crediton 55-3 the week before, had a player sin-binned but they defended well with 14 men.
Services finally broke the deadlock in the second half when out of nothing Richard West has kicked a drop-goal.
“It was not the prettiest of things but it got us off the mark,” said Leach.
But Hornets responded with a try in the corner from winger Joe Gadd after they passed the ball well across the line.
A successful West penalty after a high tackle put Devonport back in front.
Hornets then had hooker Callum Lane sin-binned for bringing down a maul. From the resultant penalty, Services went for another line-out and this time fit-again hooker Sam Bennett got the ball down. West, having another good day with the boot, added the conversion.
Weston got a penalty and full-back Charlie Carter put it over the posts to make it 13-8.
But Devonport gave themselves some valuable breathing space when winger Kyle Browne showed his pace after a good move from a scrum featuring number eight Matt Gregory and scrum-half Dylan Daley. West converted that try and also kicked a penalty to put his side 23-8 up with minutes to play.
The game looked won but in the last five minutes Hornets threw away any caution and quick-fire tries by fly-half Danny Bailey and lock Bailey Jackson left the visitors just three points behind with still time for one more chance.
Hornets went for it but fortunately for Devonport the ball came out to a prop on the wing and he did not have enough gas to go all the way.
In Western Counties West, bottom side Saltash had a frustrating afternoon at Cullompton.
They ended up narrowly losing 25-23 after being reduced to 13 men and also having two more players – Steve Kelly and Devon Bennett-Murray – taken to hospital.
It is another game Saltash will feel they could have won.
They had gone 6-0 up with two penalties from Kieran Down. That was how it stayed until just before half-time when Cullompton scored a couple of tries to take a 12-6 lead into the break.
After the interval, Ryan Cruickshanks scored a converted try to put his side back into the lead.
In a nip-and-tuck feisty contest, Cullompton came back with a try before Down kicked a penalty to keep his side within touching distance. However, the home side kicked a penalty of their own before Ross Oaten increased their lead again, but a late converted try by Ben Hocking set a nail-biting final couple of minutes.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks stay in second spot in the Cornwall/Devon League after winning 31-25 at sixth-placed Lanner on Saturday.
Oaks were delighted to return over the Tamar with a full five points as Lanner had not previously lost at home this season.
Their win was also achieved with a number of late drop-outs that led to player-coach and hooker Aiden Taylor having to play at fly-half.
“We attacked really well,” said Taylor afterwards. “They couldn’t live with our attacking game at times, but they clawed their way back into the game because we gave away a few silly penalties.”
The game saw second-year colts player Will Varley score his first senior try in only his second game for the first team.
Also scoring tries for Oaks were Joe Walker, Tim Coats, Kieran Jamieson and Calum Mills, with Al Murray kicking one conversion and Tom Richards two. However, it was Ben Hadfield that caught the eye for Plymstock with some storming runs.
Bottom side Tavistock and to make do with just a bonus point in a narrow 10-3 away defeat at Bude.
Bude led 3-0 at half-time after Olly Denton had kicked a penalty just before the interval after Tavistock had missed one at the other end.
And after the change of ends Denton scored the game’s only try with a kick and chase which he also converted.
Tavistock, still without a win this season, showed plenty of character and late on they got a penalty, which Rob Pratt kicked to at least secure them a bonus point.
“It was a similar story to last week,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill. “We were very spirited and tight again and a point at Bude is something not to turn away.”
He added: “It was another missed opportunity but another performance that shows we aren’t a team that should be where we currently stand.”
Tavistock will be hoping to finally get off the mark next weekend when they welcome fellow strugglers Exeter Athletic to Sandy Park.
Elsewhere, Liskeard-Looe claimed an impressive 25-24 home victory over fourth-placed Pirates Amateurs.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens suffered a shock 27-10 defeat away at Totnes on Saturday in Devon One.
Sarries had gone into the match sitting at the top of the table and Totnes were at the bottom, having had five points deducted for failing to travel to OPMs.
Totnes had been beaten 31-0 away at Plymouth Argaum last week but they turned the form book on its head to beat Sarries, whose only previous defeat this season was a narrow 6-0 loss away at promotion-rivals Withycombe.
“It was not a good day at the office,” said Sarries head coach Pete Lethbridge. “It was disappointing.
“We just didn’t turn up. We were 10-0 down at half-time, but we came out firing and scored a try to make it 10-5. We thought we were back in, but we forced it a little too much and dropped the ball. They picked it up and ran the length of the pitch and scored. They converted that so it was 17-5.
“We got back into it again and Scotty Sheldon scored a try near the posts but we missed the conversion. Then we forced it too much again and tried a cross-field kick which went straight to their winger and he ran more than half the pitch to score under the posts and that was it.
“It was a bad day at the office and the boys know that. Our backs played quite well although they didn’t have much of the ball. We were a bit lacklustre in the forwards, although our set-pieces were good. It was just our decision-making that let us down.”
Frazer Tatchell and Scotty Sheldon scored Sarries’ second half tries.
There was also away disappointment for Plymouth Argaum and OPMs.
Argaum, after their good win over Totnes the week before, were brought back down to earth by losing 31-7 at Buckfastleigh.
Argaum had been 7-3 up after 36 minutes thanks to a try by scrum-half Luke Nicol, which Billy Stockwell converted.
But Buckfastleigh got a try back just before half-time to lead 8-7 and then they ran away with it in the second period.
“We went to sleep at half-time,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “The first half we dominated the set-piece and tight game.
“We tried and open up second half but their line speed was very good. It was a weird game as they were not any better than us but you would think so by the score. They just capitalised on all our mistakes.
“We had times where we had large amounts of pressure but did not capitalise.”
OPMs were beaten 34-13 away at Exeter Saracens, who leapfrogged above them into third.
Exeter flew out of the blocks and went 13-5 ahead but OPMs got back into it with tries by Paul Bright and Dan Bristowe, with Sammie Matts also adding a penalty.
The game was still in the balance until the closing stages when Exeter, who played with a lot of width, scored two late tries.
“They scored two tries in the last seven minutes to make the scoreline flattering,” said OPMs head coach Rick Orkney, who felt his team played well with the ball.
Old Techs’ game with Dartmouth was postponed following the death their prop Shane Hedges.
Techs talked to league officials and Dartmouth and it was decided to postpone the game as a mark of respect.
Chairman David Evans said the club’s players had been hit hard by the tragedy.
Hedges is the second Old Techs player to die this season. Fellow prop Josh Martin, who was another popular member of the Weston Mill club, died of sepsis after a two-year battle with cancer. His funeral only took place on October 24.
“It has been a really tough few weeks,” said Evans. “The lads have been hit really hard.”
In Devon Merit Table Division Two, DHSOB enjoyed a good battle with Plymstock Albion Oaks II at Horsham Fields. Oaks narrowly won the spirited contest 32-31.
“It was a cracking game, played in the right spirit,” said DHSOB’s Mike Freeman.
New Old Boys signing Busami scored two tries, with Atu Kovula, Shawn Mucunabitu and Steve Chapman also scoring for the visitors.
Plympton Victoria found Torquay Athletic’s second string too strong for them at the Recreation Ground with the host club winning 47-7.
Dan Warne scored Plym Vic’s only try, which Kirk Sheridan, who is back playing again, converted.
“Our pack was okay and we scrummed well,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “But you could tell the difference in class. They had a couple of backs who were pushing for the first team and they were just better drilled than us.
“They are training with their first team and we just weren’t as cohesive as them.”
St Columba & Torpoint also had a tough afternoon as they were beaten 64-10 at home to Salcombe. OPMs Jesters had a good 21-17 home win over Kingsbridge II, while Tavistock II stay top of the division after they beat Saltash II 36-17.