Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge look to bounce back while Services and Oaks keen to keep form going

IVYBRIDGE are hoping they can bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to Brixham when they host Cornish side Camborne at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in the South West Premier.

The Bridgers were frustrated to lose 40-29 at Astley Park last week – a defeat that dropped them down to sixth in the standings.

“The guys were disappointed,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott. “But Brixham played well. They seem to be coming into a bit of form as they had beaten Exeter University in the game before.

“We just got a few things wrong. We made a few errors and then compounded them pretty quickly afterwards and they got quick scorers.

“We got ourselves off to a tricky start and made it hard to come back, but, having said that, we did come back quite strongly in the second half.”

It did look like Ivybridge might come back from 26-5 down at half-time. They got to within four points but Brixham scored in the dying seconds to seal the match.

“Frustratingly for the lads we conceded with the last play so we lost that extra losing bonus point,” said Elliott. “We would have come away with two points instead of one, but at least we didn’t come away totally empty handed.

“The good thing is we have a home match this weekend and a chance to put things straight.

“Everyone will go into the game with the simple mind-set of trying to play our best rugby and strip out those areas that cost us the week before.”

He added: “Games with Camborne are always tough. They are a physical team, but we are always confident when we are at home.

“We have got good home form and we just have to focus on being less error-strewn and when those errors do happen we don’t compound them.”

Ivybridge are again without props Jon Morgan and Wes Vermigle, who are both out with broke thumbs.

Meanwhile, Ivybridge’s second team will play their Devonport Services counterparts at Keyham on Friday (7.15pm).

SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST

AFTER beating promotion-rivals Thornbury and Hornets in consecutive weeks, Devonport Services are hoping to avoid a slip up away at Keynsham on Saturday.

Head coach Mike Lewis does not want their impressive home wins over their top three rivals to be wasted by losing to sixth-placed Keynsham.

But he knows getting a win at the Somerset club will be tough after failing to do it twice last season.

They were 27-22 down to Keynsham away last term when the game was abandoned on 65 minutes due to an injury to the referee.

Services felt they could have won that game and so a replay was ordered, but Devonport ended up losing 15-10.

“We went up and played them twice last year,” said Lewis. “The first time the referee pulled his calf and we got it replayed as we thought we still had a chance of getting promotion, but went up there and lost by a similar scoreline.

“It was not a joyful place for us to go, for sure. Both days were cold and wet and it’s a long old trip as it is an awkward place to get to.

“We know what they are going to be like. We should be the best team but our away form sometimes differs.”

Lewis has told his team that this weekend is just as important as their last two games against Hornets and Thornbury.

“No matter which teams you play you only get four points for a win – so you need to beat the good teams, the struggling ones and the ones in between,” said Lewis. “Keynsham are a top half team and have got some good points this year so we really have to watch ourselves this weekend.

“We did say at training we don’t want to go off the back of these two great wins and then lose this week.”

Services are expected to have a similar side out to last week. However, prop Rocky Young broke his thumb last Saturday and so is ruled out, but Jason Stead is available again.

Devonport have three senior teams and a colts side playing this weekend. Their seconds take on Ivybridge on Friday, while their thirds play St Columba & Torpoint in the Ellis Trophy on Saturday.

In Western Counties West, Saltash have a massive home match against fellow Cornish side Falmouth at Moorlands Lane.

The Ashes sit at the bottom of the table with just one win to their name so far this season. They have been highly competitive but just not been able to come out on the right side of close games. However, they have scored more points than five teams ahead of them, including their opponents this weekend – Falmouth.

Falmouth, who are 10th, are only seven points ahead of Saltash and only have two wins to their name.

If Saltash could pick up a victory they would close the gap on the sides above them.

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

TAVISTOCK will be hopeful of finally getting their first win of the season on Saturday when they host fellow strugglers Exeter Athletic at Sandy Park.

If Tavistock want to get off the foot of the table and eventually pull away from the relegation zone then this is a game they really need to win.

Exeter, who are third from bottom, have got two wins to their name – a one point home victory last week against second-from-bottom South Molton and a four-point home success against another struggling side, Veor. However, they have not won away yet.

“Pressure is on for the result,” admitted Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill. “We have home advantage but we can’t allow pressure to define our performance.

“If we play like the last two weeks we can get a result, but they need this as much as us.”

Tavistock, who narrowly lost 10-3 at Bude last Saturday, are without Josh Langton but they are able to welcome back Martin Budden, while Tom Pearson and Josh Birch return to the backline.

Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, second-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks host Liskeard-Looe at Horsham Fields on Saturday.

Liskeard have only won three games so far this term but two of those victories have come in their last three games. Last week they narrowly beat high-flying Pirates Amateurs, so Oaks will not be taking them lightly.

“It will be a tricky one,” said Oaks’ head coach Aiden Taylor. “But at home we always back ourselves.

“We are right up there at the moment, but if we want to stay there then we can’t afford to lose at home to Liskeard-Looe.”

DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE

TAMAR Saracens will be aiming to bounce back from their shock defeat to Totnes last Saturday when they host Buckfastleigh at the Parkway this weekend.

Sarries had gone into last Saturday sitting top of the table but bottom side Totnes triumphed 27-10.

“Totnes had nothing to lose and they performed as a team, whereas there was no unity in our team,” admitted Marc Cioffi.

“We were just a bit too forced and their full-back was outstanding. I think they wanted it more.

“But it is a massive lesson for us. Often people say when you’ve lost to forget about it and move on but this is one performance we are going to hold close because we don’t want to feel like that again.”

He added: “This weekend we play Buckfastleigh. They beat us at their place last season and drew with us at home.

“We certainly won’t have any arrogance that we can just beat them.

“There’s not going to be a hiding place this week. The coaches are going to be watching very closely and individuals are aware if they don’t step up they could lose their spots.

“But, despite last week, there is still a great feeling in the club. We know we are in a better position than the last couple of seasons and we are regularly putting two teams out and have really good competition for places.”

Old Techs will return to action for the first time since the death of their prop Shane Hedges when they host third-placed Exeter Saracens at Weston Mill on Saturday.

Techs’ game with Dartmouth last weekend was postponed as a mark of respect to Hedges, who died in a car accident.

“It has been a traumatic time for the club,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “It has really knocked the stuffing out of everyone, especially coming just a month after Josh (Martin) died of leukaemia. They were both props in their mid-20s.

“Just how badly everyone has taken it shows just how close the players are.

“It has been touching all the emails and tweets from different clubs. It just shows you what rugby is all about. We might be enemies on the pitch but off it we are all friends.”

North Tawton, whose captain Craig Dennis suffered life-changing injuries in a fall in the summer, have announced that they will have a match collection on Saturday for Hedges and former Wessex legend Martin Lynn, who also recently died.

Techs know it will not be easy to concentrate on their rugby but they are hoping they can put in a good performance against Exeter Saracens, who beat OPMs 34-13 last week.

“They seem to be doing well,” said Bedford-Smith. “So it will be tough, but there are no easy games in this league as last week showed. All teams are good on their day but it is just about consistency.

“We just want a competitive game of rugby and hopefully we can win. But as I have told the team most of the season, it is about enjoying the game at this level and playing with your mates.”

Techs do have a number of players missing this week, but Bedford-Smith is hoping players who are given a chance take it.

After their loss to Exeter Saracens last weekend, OPMs will be expected to bounce back against Ilfracombe on Saturday at King George V Playing Fields.

Ilfracombe are still waiting for their first win since returning to the league this summer, whereas OPMs have only lost twice.

“We are looking forward to it,” said OPMs coach Rick Orkney. “We’re at home and hopefully we can put a few points on the board.”

Plymouth Argaum are another team looking for a response to a defeat when they entertain Dartmouth at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.

Argaum lost 31-7 away at Buckfastleigh last week to drop down to 10th in the standings.

Dartmouth have been one of the league’s most inconsistent teams in the last couple of years, but they will arrive at Roborough sitting fifth in the table with just two losses to their name.

Argaum only have two wins, but they could move up three positions if they could pick up four or five points on Saturday.

In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria play University of Plymouth III, who sit two places above them in Division Two South & West.

“They are a bit of unknown quantity,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt.

Meanwhile, DHSOB are holding an ‘Old Boys’ Day’ to celebrate their 90th anniversary as they host Torquay Athletic II at Stonehouse Creek.

The game will kick-off at 12noon so all the players and guests can then go to a special function at Albion’s game against Chinnor. The Old Boys have the use of one of Albion’s marquees.

St Columba & Torpoint are not in league action this weekend. Instead they will host Devonport Services’ third team in the Ellis Trophy.

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