IVYBRIDGE got back to winning ways in South West Premier on Saturday with a highly-entertaining 56-43 victory over Exeter University at Cross-in-Hand.
It was the Bridgers’ first win in four games and moves them above the students and into fifth position in the league.
From the scoreline it would appear a close game, but for 70 minutes Ivybridge were in total control and they led 56-19 with 10 minutes to go.
Exeter University, who had beaten Ivybridge in pre-seaosn, did score four unanswered tries in the final nine minutes but it did not change the result.
“We had a huge 60 minutes,” said player-coach Jamie Tripcony. “We were really on-point for a lot of the game – really on the money.
“But we knew with them being a young and fit uni side that they would come back at us. They showed their class when the game broke up late on.
“However, it was a five-point win for us, which is massive.
“We were not really happy with how the last three games had gone and we were looking for some momentum before Christmas. We are really pleased with a five-point win.”
The sides went into the combined league and Devon Senior Cup game sitting fifth and sixth in the table before switching positions at the end of the 80 minutes.
Ivybridge were dominant in the first half and led 35-14 at the break thanks to tries by Tom Scoles, Ben Watts, Ben Fenton, Adam Northcott and Will Lamont, who was playing his final game before going into the forces.
That became 49-14 after the break with Northcott getting a second and Charlie Briant also crossing.
Exeter did get one back before Ivybridge went 37 points ahead with another try by Lamont after ex-Bridgers player Albert Slade had been sin-binned for Exeter.
But the visitors did finish with a flourish but only went home with one bonus point.
SOUTH WEST ONE AND WESTERN COUNTIES WEST
DEVONPORT Services coach Mike Lewis had warned his injury-hit side that they would face a potential banana skin at Newent – and so it proved.
League leaders Services lost 22-20 after conceding a last-gasp converted try in Gloucestershire.
Devonport, who were missing a host of players due to injuries and unavailabilities, had led for the whole of the game before third-from-bottom Newent’s late winner.
“It was frustrating,” said player-coach Richard West, who was in charge of the team at Newent as Lewis had to stay in Plymouth after the birth of his first child.
“We definitely did enough to win, but they scored with the last play of the game – same as they did last year.
“We let them out of their half too easy. They made yards as our defensive shape was not up to scratch.
“But overall the boys that came in did a really good job. They really stepped up well and I thought we did do enough to win.”
Services were leading 12-5 at the break and were 20-15 up with time virtually up on the clock. Tom Goodman scored two tries for them, with Corey Jamieson bagging their other.
But in the last few minutes Newent got free ball off the referee and they took advantage to score a try that pulled them level before kicking the conversion.
In Western Counties West, Saltash have moved out of the bottom three after a vital 14-8 victory over 10th-placed Honiton, who are now just two points in front of the east Cornwall side.
The Ashes have picked up form in the last couple of months and Saturday’s victory was their third in five games at Moorlands Lane.
Deadly winger Will Morton proved the difference between the sides at the weekend with both of Saltash’s tries.
Honiton took the lead with an Ollie Cave penalty, but Saltash came back and went in front with Morton’s first of the afternoon, which Kieran Down converted. The game stayed at 7-3 until half-time.
After the interval Honiton, who were promoted from the Cornwall/Devon League last season, went back in front with an unconverted try from Kyle Blackmore.
But, with just over 20 minutes to go, Morton bagged a second converted try to put the Ashes into a winning position and they were able to hold off for four crucial points.
THERE was also a vital home win for Tavistock in the Cornwall/Devon League.
They beat Plymouth Combination rivals Liskeard-Looe 36-33 in an entertaining affair at Sandy Park.
Although Tavistock remain in the bottom three they are now only four points behind 11th-placed Veor and only five behind Liskeard in 10th.
Tavistock made what player-coach Hammy Kerswill described as a ‘phenomenal start’ on Saturday.
George Hillson gave them the lead when he went over after 11 phases and Rhys Davies added the conversion.
They then increased that to 14-0 when young winger Sam Wilton, who has just broken into the first team, finished off a well-worked backs move. Davies again added the conversion.
Liskeard, though, got one back through Archie Doidge after a clever cross-field kick.
But Hillson scored a second for Tavistock to put them 19-7 in front.
Liskeard-Looe, though, dominated the rest of the half and scored two tries through Jordan Smith and Ben Palmer, which were both converted by Nick Parker, to put the Lions 21-19 ahead at the break.
Davies missed an early penalty at the start of the second half but Tavistock did go back in front when Wilton finished well to claim his second try of the afternoon.
In a see-saw contest, Liskeard-Looe regained the lead with a touch-down from Sam Chapman.
The hosts, however, crucially got two quick tries to take hold of the game. First, Jack Easton scored from a charge down before a gap opened up for captain Andrew Schuttkacker to go and score and put his side 36-26 ahead.
But with the last play of the game, Liskeard got a scrum and Mike Prowse went over to secure his side two bonus points.
“We are happy,” said Kerswill. “It was a bit of a do-or-die game, but luckily we came out on the right side.”
He added: “This week we had more believe when we conceded.”
However, there was disappointment for third-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks who narrowly lost 14-12 at home to league leaders Paignton.
Oaks had found themselves 11-0 down, but Paignton had a player sent off after 30 minutes. The home side pressed strongly, but the visitors defended really well with 14 men.
Plymstock, though, started to fire in the second half and tries by player-coach Aiden Taylor and recent signing Sam Snell got them to within two points.
They threw everything at Paignton late on and felt they could have had a penalty try late on. They were also unhappy that the visitors were allowed to get away with giving away penalty after penalty on the try line.
“It was frustrating,” said Oaks coach Taylor, who felt decisions did go against his side.
“We should have won that game. I believe we were the better team and played the better rugby. It is a hard one to take.”
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens moved up to second in the Devon One standings after beating Exeter Saracens 26-7 at the Parkway.
Exeter had arrived in second place but they found Tamar Saracens in determined mood.
The hosts dominated the first half and led 19-0 at the interval with tries by Joe Stanniforth, Josh Heath and Chad Smith, with Tom Rigby kicking two conversions.
They lost a bit of momentum after the break, but got the all-important bonus point with 20 minutes to go through full-back Frazer Tatchell. Exeter Saracens did score consolation try in the final quarter.
“I was really, really impressed with the boys,” said Tamar Saracens head coach Pete Lethbridge.
“It was a really good all-round performance. The forwards were outstanding and the backs were very good as well.
“It was a really important win. It was our last game of the year and we have gone above them in the league.”
Elsewhere, for 55 minutes OPMs looked like they were going to become the first team this season to beat leaders Withycombe.
The Old Boys led 14-0 but Withycombe showed why they are at the top by scoring four tries in the final 24 minutes to win 26-14.
Withycombe’s final try came right at the death and denied OPMs even a bonus point, which their efforts probably deserved.
“We are absolutely gutted,” said coach Rick Orkney. “But we played very, very well and we feel we are improving.
OPMs captain Billy Garratt added: “A few of their boys said it was the hardest game they have played this season.
“But it was a bit disappointing having been 14-0 up at half-time. However, I was proud to be an OPM, despite the score. The boys really put their bodies on the line.
“We have come a long way, from a team that finished 10th last year to one that is now challenging.”
Youngster Fred Smale continued his good scoring record with a first half try. There was also one for Paul Bright after a good run and off-load from Henry Matthews. Both their tries were converted by Sammie Matts.
But Withycombe finally broke the deadlock in the 54th minute when Mike Richards scored a try.
He added a second 10 minutes later before they were awarded a penalty try four minutes from time. Withycombe then scored an interception try in the last minute through Richards to cruelly deny OPMs a point.
Old Techs ended a three-game losing run in style on Saturday as they ran in eight tries to see off New Cross 50-7 at Weston Mill.
After weeks of struggling for player availability, Techs were finally back to full strength. Billy Evans and Matty Simmonds were back from injury, while their 29 Commandos were back from exercises overseas.
Techs played into the strong wind first half and led 17-7 before running riot after the interval when they had the elements in their favour.
Evans scored two tries and kicked five conversions, with Peni Turura, Isimeli Tau’aga, Rudi Baker, Simmonds, Jope Qeva and Tom Blythe also scoring tries.
“Our side was nearly as strong as it could be,” said chairman Dave Evans. “We’d had our 29 boys in America and Norway and Billy and Simmo had been injured, but now they are all back.
“It was a really good win and performance. We played some really good expansive rugby.”
There was also a welcome win for Plymouth Argaum, who overcame Ilfracombe 36-13 at Bickleigh Down. It was Argaum’s first victory since November 9.
The first half was tight with Argaum coming from 5-0 down to lead 8-5 thanks to a penalty from Tom Shephard and a try from Tom Holliday.
The game opened up after the interval and the influential Jack Morris got a try before Holliday got his second.
With 10 minutes to go Morris then made a try for Gideon Berends as Argaum ended a tough 2019 on a high.
“It was good to get the win,” said Argaum secretary Stuart Quarterman. “Hopefully, that will get the monkey off our back.
“But I think the Christmas break is coming at a good time for us as we have got a lot of injuries.”
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria battled hard against high-flying Tavistock II at Sandy Park but the hosts pulled away in the second half to win 32-5.
The teams were level at 5-5 after the opening 40 minutes and Plym Vic gave as good as they got for long spells but Tavistock showed their class with some good breakaway tries.
Despite the loss, Plym Vic were positive about their performance.
“When we finished the lads were all up as they saw the positives of the performance,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt.
“They are second in the table with a game in hand and it was a good yard stick for us. We know there’s bits still to work on but there was an awful lot of positives.
“It was only 5-5 at half-time, but they brought on a couple of guys that made a difference.
“The only other real difference was they reacted quicker on the break.
“We squandered a couple of tries on the line with knock-ons and nearly made a couple of interceptions, but I felt we did really well.”
Connor Turner scored Plym Vic’s try at Sandy Park.
DHSOB enjoyed an impressive 65-17 win over OPMs II in a rearranged match.
The first half was quite close but DHSOB pulled away in the second half.
Full-back Ben Koroi was the star of the show for Devonport, scoring four tries.
There were also tries for Atu Kovula, Ben Busami, Steve Chapman, Dan Bulley, Silivario, Hapi Seiau and Shawn Mucunabitu.
“It was a really good performance,” said DHSOB’s Mike Freeman.