Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEW: Ivybridge look to get back to winning ways as Services bid to keep home record going

IVYBRIDGE will be looking to get back to winning ways when they travel to Drybrook on Saturday in South West Premier.

The Bridgers, who sit sixth in the table, drew with Camborne in their last outing two weeks ago and before that came unstuck at Brixham in a Devon derby.

They had a week off last Saturday and are hoping they will be refreshed for the trip Gloucestershire, where they will face 10th-placed Drybrook who have only played once in the last month.

“We’ve had a weekend off so we’ve had a lot of time to prepare for it,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott.

“We weren’t too happy with the performance against Camborne so it has been a long time to chew on that and we are looking for a good performance.

“We have a few guys unavailable in the backline so we have quite a few changes.

“But we are just looking forward to getting back in action and hopefully getting back to winning ways.

“We know it will be a tough game away from home. They are decent at home but we are looking forward to it.”

With the likes of Tom Scoles, Will Lamont, Jordan Anderton and Damon Akerman among the backs either unavailable or injured, it means Alex Gozzard and Harrison Legge get the chance to start, while recently signing Lewis Swatton could make his debut from the bench.

Devonport Services are forced back by Lydney in South West One last season (picture by Mark Andrews)

SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST

SOUTH West One leaders Devonport Services will be aiming to keep their unbeaten home record going when they entertain in-form Lydney at the Rectory on Saturday.

Both clubs go into the match on the back of three successive victories, with Lydney hammering Crediton 71-9 at home in their last outing.

“They have had a few great results,” said Services’ head coach Mike Lewis. “Crediton got a bit of hiding off them so they do seem like they are playing great rugby.”

Lydney did narrowly win 20-17 at the Rectory last season, but so far Services are unbeaten at home this term.

He added: “We have been okay at home. We do seem to have a bit of spark when we are at home. The players like playing at Rectory. They get that buzz playing at home in front of a good stand and a few hundred people.”

Services are likely to field a similar side to the one that beat Keynsham away two weeks ago in their last outing. However, they were waiting to see if captain Matt Gregory will be able to switch shifts at work to be able to play. But if he is unavailable then Mark Friend is likely to take his place.

Meanwhile, Lewis has insisted he is committed to Services, despite being linked with a coaching role at Plymouth Albion, where he is community manager.

“I have a great project here (at Services),” said Lewis. “We are trying to enjoy our rugby here and create that great atmosphere and that makes me enjoy it too.”

Saltash face a tough away trip in Western Counties West when they travel to third-placed Kingsbridge, who are the league’s top scorers.

Kingbridge have averaged more than 37 points a game and have scored more than 50 points five times this term.

Saltash sit second from bottom, but they have been playing well in recent weeks and beat Falmouth 43-12 at home in their last match two weeks ago. However, they are still looking for their first win on their travels.

Kingsbridge are hoping for a good crowd for the match as they are holding a past players’ lunch.

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

IN THE Cornwall/Devon League second-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks face a tricky trip to North Tawton on Saturday.

Oaks have not played North Tawton for a number of years and so will not be totally sure what to expect.

Last year’s Devon One champions have been hit by injuries recently but they have been tough to beat at home. Their only defeats at Taw Meadow are a 13-9 loss to Torquay and a 11-6 defeat to leaders Paignton.

Oaks, who lost top spot last weekend when Paignton played a rearranged match, have only lost twice this term and have won their last three games.

Meanwhile, Tavistock will be looking to keep their improved form going when they travel across the Tamar to take on mid-table Lanner.

Tavistock have moved up to third-from-bottom in the last two weeks with a five-point win over Exeter Athletic and picking up a losing bonus point at promotion-chasing Torquay.

But they know they will have to be on top of their game to get anything from Lanner, who have won four home games this term.

Lanner, though, did handed Paignton a walkover last weekend due to player availability issues.

“Last week’s forfeit by Lanner will be nothing to go by,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill. “They are a tricky outfit at home and we have some personnel change that will take some time to adjust, but we are confident in the way we are playing and are hopeful of a result on a road.”

Kerswill and captain Andrew Schuttkacker are both ruled out due to injuries, while Jack Glover and Jack Easton are unavailable.

However, Tavistock are able to welcome back Jack Lewis and Jake Crabb, while forwards Web Cox and Leion Cole are back from injuries. Ethan Lamerton will move to his favourite inside centre position as Tavistock hand a senior debut to ex-junior Rhys Davies. The fly-half has moved back to the area after a spell at Old Wimbledonians RFC.

“Rhys is a talented sports man and will offer a lot to the club,” said Kerswill. “I’m excited to see how he’ll fit in.”

Tavistock will again have two teams out with their second string playing Salcombe in the Devon Merit Table.

Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, fourth-from-bottom Liskeard-Looe host basement club South Molton in a crucial match. Just six points separate the two clubs.

DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE

TAMAR Saracens are expecting a tough test as they return to action after a three-week lay-off when they travel to Dartmouth on Saturday.

Saracens have not played since suffering a shock defeat to Totnes on November 16. The following week they should have played Buckfastleigh at home but the game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and then Buccs pulled out of visiting them last weekend.

The Ernesettle-based club are in third spot just a point below second-placed Exeter Saracens, who they meet next week.

But Dartmouth will be looking to close the gap on them. They sit in fifth spot, 10 points behind Sarries, but they do have a game in hand.

“The guys are just keen to get a game and get on with it,” said Sarries spokesman Marc Cioffi. “It is always difficult when you lose and then do not play for a couple of weeks.

“We know they are unpredictable – I don’t think any team knows what to expect from Dartmouth. But you are always very wary playing them at home and they have got some brilliant guys. We just need to make sure we go up there with the right attitude.

“We have got a few unavailabilities but we have got a big enough squad.

“This weekend is a big game as we are trying to bounce back and also build for another big game next week against Exeter Saracens.”

Old Techs face their longest trip of the season on Saturday when they visit bottom side Ilfracombe.

Techs could do with a win after back-to-back defeats which has seen them drop to eighth.

Ilfracombe might be bottom of the table but they pushed leaders Withycombe hard last week before eventually losing by 31-19.

Techs have not visited Ilfracombe for a league game for four years since they lost 27-10 there in the 2015-16 season.

Fourth-placed OPMs will be optimistic of picking up another win when they travel to third-from-bottom New Cross on Saturday.

OPMs have only lost twice this season and could close the gap on the three teams above them.

New Cross did beat the Old Boys 6-3 at their place last season so the Elburton-based club will be wary.

Elsewhere in Devon One, ninth-placed Plymouth Argaum have a difficult trip to second-placed Exeter Saracens.

“They (Exeter) are doing well and look like they are going to be one of the top four sides,” said Argaum’s Stuart Quarterman.

“We are struggling a bit this week as we have picked up a number of injuries during the week.”

Argaum are likely to be missing scrum-half Luke Nicol, who has suffered a badly broken finger, Billy Stockwell also picked up an injury, while Dan Smith is still out with a knee problem.

However, Argaum have boosted their squad with a couple of Royal Marine players, while Lee Evans is back after a tour.

“We are still picking up players, but it seems that as soon as we get new players in others get injured.”

In the Devon Merit Table, eighth-placed Plympton Victoria could move up a couple of places in the table if they could beat St Columba & Torpoint at Defiance Field.

Saints have been struggling a bit this season. Their only win was a narrow 33-31 victory over the University of Plymouth III.

Plym Vic will be looking be looking for their second successive victory after beating the University of Plymouth in their last league outing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s