FOR the second away game running, Ivybridge paid for a slow start as they lost 23-20 at Drybook in the South West Premier on Saturday.
Just like they had done at Brixham in their last trip away from Cross-in-Hand, the Bridgers just gave themselves too much do to snatch victory.
It did look like they might claim a sensational comeback win in Gloucestershire after been 20-3 down after half-an-hour, but they just fell short at the end.
Drybrook, who had started the day in 10th spot, scored two converted tries through Mitch Baldwin and kicked a penalty in the opening 15 minutes to lead 17-0.
Matt Grieveson kicked a penalty to get the Bridgers on the scoreboard but Drybrook replied with one of their own through Tim Stevenson.
Scrum-half Ben Watts finally got a try for Ivybridge to make it 20-8, but Stevenson kicked another penalty to increase the home club’s advantage.
However, Matt Dayment got the visitors back in the contest with a try and then Grieveson went over late on to set up a thrilling ending. But Ivybridge just could not snatch it and they have now suffered two defeats and a draw in their last three games.
“We were slow starting,” said player-coach Jamie Tripcony. “We shipped quite a few points in the first 10-15 minutes and that gave us an uphill battle.
“But eventually we started to get into our rugby and our game and towards the death we gave ourselves opportunities to get more points.”
He added: “After the game we talked about not wanting to be the nearly men. We need to put in an 80 minute performance and really get hold of games.
“We just need to make a few more things stick, like discipline and doing the right plays at the right time. We just have to get back to basics.”
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services remain at the top of South West One after overcoming a determined Lydney side 20-13 at the Rectory on Saturday.
Services, who are unbeaten at home this term, expected a tough match as Lydney had beaten them at the Rectory last season and arrived on the back of a three-game winning run, which included an eye-catching 71-9 victory over Crediton in their last outing.
Devonport had the better of the first half and deservedly led 17-8 at the break. They extended that to 20-8 after the interval but then Lydney dominated the rest of the game and Services had to defend hard.
“You might say we won ugly,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach.
“The first half we played some really good stuff but second half we had to defend well.
“They (Lydney) were quite good. They did not have much outside but had some very good forwards.
“But we managed to get another home win and stay top of the league.”
Lydney took the lead with an early penalty before Devonport hit back with a try from a catch-and-drive move from hooker Sam Bennett, who was captain for the day in the absence of Matt Gregory.
Richard West added the conversion but the Forest of Dean visitors went back in front with a try by Jake Bonser.
However, after that Services got on top. Some good play by Corey Jamieson earned the hosts a penalty in front of the posts, which West put over.
Bennett then added a second try again from a line-out, which West converted to give his side a nine-point lead at the break.
West then kicked a penalty after the interval to make it 20-8, but on 56 minutes visiting number eight John Barker scored a try to pull his side to within a score.
Lydney threw everything in the final 20-odd minutes but Services’ defence held firm.
“They pounded at our line, but we made some really tackles,” said Leach. “However, every time we got the ball in the second half we made the wrong decisions and put ourselves under more pressure than we needed, but we got the win.”
In Western Counties West, Saltash could not produce a major shock and beat in-form Kingsbridge away, but the east Cornwall side will take plenty of positives away from their 40-22 defeat.
Kingsbridge are the league’s top points scorers by a mile and have scored more than 50 points five times this season. But Saltash gave them a game and there was little between the sides in the first half.
However, after the interval, Kingsbridge’s strong forwards managed to get on top and pull away from the Ashes.
Saltash did take the lead at High House with a try from the deadly Will Morton after good play by Simon Nance.
Kingsbridge hit back with a try of their own but Saltash responded with a second of the afternoon courtesy of Devon Bennett-Murray.
But the hosts managed to go in at the break 19-14 ahead and then pulled away after half-time.
In the second period second-from-bottom Saltash had Kieran Down kicking a penalty and Phil Eatwell scoring a third try.
The Ashes will be a bit frustrated they did not at least pick up a bonus point for their efforts in south Devon.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks dropped down to third in the Cornwall/Devon League table after losing 21-17 away at North Tawton.
Oaks had led for the whole game but last year’s Devon One champions snatched victory with the last play of the game when Billy Sharp got free down the wing to score from 22 metres.
It was only Oaks’ third defeat of the season and Truro, who beat Veor, moved above them in the standings.
Plymstock will have been wary heading to Taw Meadow as North Tawton have been impressive there since coming into the league. Their only defeats were narrow one score losses to leaders Paignton and fellow top five side Torquay.
But Oaks looked like they were not going to have any problems as they went 10-0 up in the first half.
North Tawton, though, have got used to winning after claiming the Devon One and Devon Two titles in consecutive seasons and they came back after half-time.
Joe Brearley scored two tries for Oaks, with recent signing from Tavistock Sam Snell also crossing for the visitors.
Jordan Corthwaite and Matt Baker got North Tawton back in the game with tries before Sharp’s winner in the dying seconds.
There was also disappointment in the Cornwall/Devon League for Tavistock, who were beaten 37-24 away at Lanner.
Tavistock, who went nine games without a win, had picked up form recently but found Lanner on a good day.
The Cornish club, who have been impressive at home, had not been able to get a full team out the previous week and had lost their two games before that, but they used their pack well on Saturday to get back to winning ways.
Tavistock, playing up the slope, had gone 10-5 up with a penalty and then a converted try from new fly-half signing Rhys Davies.
were only five points down at the break and were hoping with the slope in their favour after the change of ends they could turn it around.
But a charge down Lanner try after Andrew Schuttkacker had scored a fine team effort at the other end for Tavistock changed the game.
Lanner, who impressed in the scrums and line-out, pulled away but Tavistock did keep going and Schuttkacker did get a second try late on.
“It was another one we let through our grasp,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill. “But finding a 10 in Rhys is something we’ve needed for years.”
Elsewhere in the Cornwall/Devon League, Jordan Smith scored five tries as Liskeard-Looe beat bottom side South Molton 36-3. Oliver Haggis scored Liskeard’s other try, with Nick Parker kicking the rest of their points.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
THIRD-placed Tamar Saracens had to battle hard to pick up four points away at fifth-placed Dartmouth on Saturday.
Sarries had the better of the first half but only led 5-0 at the break with a try by scrum-half Rikki Brandham, who ran in from 22 metres.
But in the second period Dartmouth scored a converted try before Josh Perkin went over for one for Sarries after Frazer Tatchell had done well running a kick back.
Dartmouth, though, hit back again but Sarries managed to get the win with a fine individual effort from Josh Heath.
“In the first half we were outstanding,” said Sarries coach Pete Lethbridge. “But we were only 5-0 up, which was not a reflection on the way we had played.
“We had the advantage of going down the hill second half but we went off the boil.
“It was just one of those games where we were glad to get over the line.
“Our decision-making was not great but we’ll take a win up there.”
OPMs stay in fourth place after beating New Cross 31-19 away form home.
The Old Boys have had a poor record at New Cross in recent years but they managed to out-score their hosts five tries to three on Saturday.
New Cross had gone in front but OPMs came back to lead 12-7 at the break thanks to tries by Ben Neville and Ollie Marshall.
After the interval, Neville scored again to go with further touch-downs from Jake Aquilina and a late one from Matty Thompson.
“We said to the lads before the game that we could not underestimate them (New Cross),” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt. “We have a bad track record at their place and so we had a score to settle.
“We got the bonus point as well so that was good.
“This league is hard and you can never underestimate anyone.”
OPMs coach Rick Orkney added: “We had about 80 per cent of the territory and we did play really well but just could not quite link up good forward play with the backs play.
“We gave them two silly tries and so the score flattered them a bit, but we are happy with the win.”
Old Techs’ stumbling form continued as they were beaten 19-7 away at previously winless Ilfracombe.
Techs have now lost their last three games but they do stay in eighth spot.
Jope Qeva scored their only try at Brimlands against an Ilfracombe side who have been improving after returning to the league in the summer.
“They felt they should have beaten Withycombe last week and I think they are a better team than bottom of the league,” said Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“But it was a closer game than the scoreline suggests.”
Techs were missing a host of players, including Billy Evans and Matty Simmonds, but they were still able to get 20 people to make the long trip.
“We have got a lot of people missing,” said Bedford-Smith. “But we went up there with 20 so we can’t complain.
“I was disappointed with the loss but the commitment and heart of the players was there like it always is. I can never fault their effort.
“It is just about getting players back now for us and getting some training sessions in.
“It a bit like pre-season again for us again having had a lot of the army lads away, a lot of injuries and the other stuff that has gone on.”
Plymouth Argaum handed second-placed Exeter Saracens the win before kick-off on Saturday but the Roborough-based club did make the trip to Exhibition Way and played a friendly, which Exeter won 45-0.
Argaum thought they had 18 players but had players drop out on the day and they were left without enough front-row cover. In the end they decided to play a 13-a-side game and by making the trip they will avoid a points deduction.
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria moved up to seventh in Division Two South & West after beating St Columba & Torpoint 32-3 at Defiance Field.
Saint were struggling for players and only had 12, so Plym Vic lent them a couple and the clubs played a 14-a-side match.
Chris Barrett and Ethan Pringle both scored two tries for Plym Vic, who had Sam Wilmington kicking the rest of their points, while Lewis Jeffery made some strong runs through the centre.
“The difference was for a change we were better drilled than they were,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt.
“A year ago we would probably not have played with the confidence that we did. It was good to see stuff we had been working on in training came off on a Saturday.”