IVYBRIDGE just cannot seem to be able to buy a win in the South West Premier League in 2020.
After a controversial 20-16 defeat at Launceston, a 25-25 draw with Maidenhead and a 20-19 loss at Newbury, the Bridgers suffered more agony on Saturday as they went down 22-21 to Devon rivals Okehampton at Cross-in-Hand.
The Bridgers could have snatched victory at the death had they kicked a tough, last-gasp conversion, but Matt Grieveson’s effort from the touchline went wide.
“It was a very tough kick to try and win the match,” said Ivybridge coach Gareth Elliott. “The wind was pushing the kick all the time and so it was always going to be a tough ask.”
Elliott admits Ivybridge’s current run of results has been frustrating as they know they could easily have picked up four wins in 2020.
“It is very frustrating,” he said. “I suppose you can look at it in the way that we are very competitive, but you must be ruthless.
“The positives are we are putting out a very strong second team as well. We have got great numbers and training sessions are brilliant.
“But the lads are proud and they want to be winning rugby matches. We just have to keep working hard.
“As Ben Watts said after the match, we don’t become a bad team all of a sudden just because we have lost a few matches. it is just that we are not being clinical enough in certain areas. And, like we have said for the last three or four weeks, we are not maintaining the level of performance across the whole 80 minutes.”
Elliott felt his side’s first half performance against Okehampton was not at the level that it needed to be.
“It was a classic game of two halves,” he said. “The lads, to be fair, just weren’t really at the emotional and mental level that was needed in the first half, whereas Okehampton were. They were flying into every collision and scrapping for every ball – and it showed.
“The first half we weren’t really good enough, but we got our heads together at half-time. As soon as we came out for that second half we put pressure on them. We really played well in the second half.
“We did give away one soft try from a maul – they just split through the middle of our maul defence – but apart from that we were completely dominant. What we just needed to do was finish off another opportunity in the 22, because we had quite a lot of pressure. We had quite a few attacks that we didn’t convert.”
Okehampton, who started the day in fourth place, went 8-0 up at Cross-in-Hand with a penalty by Richie Friend and a try by former Plymouth Albion centre Bevon Armitage.
Ivybridge cut the gap with a try by Devon under-20 captain Adam Northcott, but Okehampton went 15-5 ahead at the break with a try by Brandon Horn, which Friend converted.
After the interval, scrum-half Watts reduced the deficit for Ivybridge with a try before Grieveson moved the hosts to within two points with a penalty.
A try from a maul by Sam Turner, converted by Friend, put Okes 22-13 ahead before the Bridgers finished strongly.
Grieveson kicked a penalty before Northcott scored a second from a maul in the corner to leave Ivybridge one point behind with the conversion to come. However, Grieveson could not add the tough kick in the wind.
SOUTH WEST ONE
A last-gasp try from Kyle Browne secured Devonport Services a vital win over Chew Valley in Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at the Rectory.
Second-placed Services were 29-22 behind to the league leaders with five minutes to go, but they came back brilliantly to snatch a full five points and keep their 100 per cent home record intact.
They are now just one point behind Chew and do have a game in hand. However, Hornets and Lydney are also right on their tails, with just four points separating the top four.
“That was a big win,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach. “They (Chew Valley) were very good.
“You can see why they have sneaked above us into the top spot. From one to 18 they were good, but we just kept pounding at them.
“A win is a win and we will take that and move on to next week when we have Cleve away.”
Services, playing their first home game since Christmas, made a terrible start and conceded a try straight from kick-off with Henry Stride crossing for Chew and Tom Bryan converting.
Devonport did respond instantly with a try in the corner by left winger Corey Jamieson, which Richard West converted.
But on 20 minutes, Services found themselves behind again when Chew winger Joe Webb touched down and Bryan added the conversion.
Devonport cut the gap to two points at half-time with a try in the corner from second-row Andy Pond.
Chew went 19-12 ahead after the interval when Joe Monk scored after some good pick-and-go work by the visitors.
In an end-to-end affair, Services closed to within two points again with a second try from the prolific Jamieson.
However, from the restart the hosts were penalised for not rolling away and Bryan kicked a penalty to edge Chew 22-17 in front.
The sides were level again a few minutes later when replacement prop Struan Main touched down from a pick-and-go.
“It was a real battle between the forwards,” said Leach. “Both sets were going hammer and tongs at each other.”
Chew were reduced to 14 players for 10 minutes but still got a scrum in their 22 and from it full-back Bryan evaded a host of tackles to run the length of the field and score a try, which he also converted to put his side 29-22 ahead.
Services dug deep but it did not look like they were going to get through Chew’s defence. But with four minutes to go captain Matt Gregory found himself on the left and he powered over from nine yards. Alex Mawdsley, who had taken over the kicking duties, added the conversion to level the tie at 29-29.
And, with time virtually up, Devonport snatched the win when they created an overlap and Browne went over in the corner.
Saltash’s Western Counties West home match against Wadebridge was postponed.
TAVISTOCK have renewed hope they can avoid the drop after crushing 10th-placed Veor 43-13 at Sandy Park on Saturday.
A few weeks ago it looked like Liskeard-Looe were the only team realistically Tavistock could catch, but now Veor and Lanner have been dragged back into the relegation battle.
Lanner, having had five points deducted for failing to fulfil their fixture with Liskeard-Looe on Saturday, are now only four points ahead of Tavistock, having played the same amount of games.
“With Lanner conceding for the third time this season and Liskeard picking up five points, we have merely done what we had to do to keep in the race,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill.
“We have lots of big games to come, but Saturday certainly saw us show our potential.
“It was a good win and we were much more clinical with our execution.”
Tavistock got off to a great start with well-worked tries from their own half from Rhys Davies and Martin Budden before Veor hit back with two penalties.
And Tavistock had the bonus point in the bag before half-time when, first, Duncan Law went over from close range before Sam Wilton outpaced his opposite number to touch down.
The hosts had the wind and slope advantage second half and Conor Packwood got them off to a great start with a fine individual effort.
Ed Tait, on his debut, then went over before Pjay Luatua, playing his last game for the club before returning to New Zealand, scored a fine solo effort.
At the other end of the table, Plymstock Albion Oaks moved up to third after beating out-of-form Torquay Athletic 35-10 at Horsham Fields
Veteran Dave Byng scored a hat-trick of tries as Oaks kept themselves in the race for promotion.
Byng, who tried to retire at the end of last season, started at number eight and scored once in the first half and twice in the second.
Torquay did lead 10-7 at the break, but Oaks had the slope and wind advantage after the interval and they made use of it.
As well as Byng, scrum-half Corey Jenkinson and prop James MacFarlane also touched down for tries after the break, with Tom Richards kicking two penalties and two conversions.
“It was a nice result,” said Oaks’ director of rugby Peter Scott. “The guys really enjoyed themselves. I think they have felt the pressure has been off. But with Paignton losing and us having a game in hand it is all to play for.”
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OLD TECHS finally got back to winning ways with an impressive 29-12 victory away at Torrington.
Techs had lost their previous four games but they found their form in north Devon to out-score their hosts five tries to two.
The game was all square at 12-12 at half-time with Billy Evans and Matt Simmonds touching down for Techs and Tom Gooch and Mike Wrigley scoring for Torrington.
Techs had to play into the strong wind after the break but they made light of it to run in three more tries courtesy of Simmonds, Lewis Tunnicliffe and flanker Jack Courtney.
“It was a really good performance,” said Techs chairman David Evans. “We are very happy with that after the run of results we have had.
“Torrington is a tough place to go and get a win. I can’t remember turning them over up there in recent years.
“We just needed that win to give us a bit of momentum.”
OPMs overcame the first-half sending off of half-back Sammy Matts to claim a hard-earned 22-15 victory over Totnes to stay in third spot.
Totnes were leading 15-12 at the break, with Fred Smale and Ben Neville scoring tries for the Old Boys in the opening 40 minutes.
After the interval Henry Matthews kicked a drop-goal to level the match before Ben Hooper snatched the win late on with a try.
“We had to dig in after going down to 14 men,” said OPMs captain Billy Garratt. “We used our forwards to pick and go our way towards the try line, then we have seen an overlap and Ben Hooper went over to score the winning try.
“But we were very, very disappointed in our first half performance and, obviously, the red card.”
Second-placed Tamar Saracens were handed a home walkover by city rivals Plymouth Argaum, who were struggling to get 15 players for the game.
However, they did travel to Ernesettle to play a friendly and avoid a points deduction. Sarries won the friendly 50-0.
“We had a run-out, which was like a large training session, but it was a bit disappointing not to play them in a competitive league game,” said Tamar Saracens coach Pete Lethbridge.
“We have now have a break next week, which will give us a chance to sort out some injuries, before meeting Withycombe down here.”
In Devon Merit Table Division Two, DHSOB continued their stunning form by beating leaders Salcombe 26-22.
It was their fifth straight league win and they are now sixth with games in hand on all the teams above them.
“We have a great mix at the moment,” said DHSOB’s Mike Freeman. “We have old heads like Darren Rosevear, Graham Lean and Steve Chapman alongside the Fijians. We had 21 players on Saturday.”
Lopeti Faha was crucial for the Old Boys on Saturday, scoring two of their four tries. Jone Keni and Shawn Mucunabitu also crossed for tries, with the later kicking three conversions as well.
Plympton Victoria were grateful to Devonport Services and Devon RFU head coach Mike Lewis for making sure their home game with OPM II went ahead.
Lewis agreed to referee the match before Services’ top-of-the-table clash with Chew Valley as Plym Vic were struggling to find anyone to officiate.
The match was moved to 11am and Plym Vic ran out 20-7 winners to leapfrog OPM II and go seventh in the table.
After having two games postponed recently due to a lack of a match official, Plym Vic were full of praise for Lewis.
“He was as good as gold,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “It was brilliant he agreed to step in.
“It was a good game. We were both scratching around for players but both ended up with subs.
“It was a very evenly matched game but we were probably just a bit more organised. The packs were well matched and it was enjoyable.”
Plym Vic had a father and son scoring tries for them. Lee Pringle bagged two, while his son, Ethan, also went over for one. Sam Wilmington kicked one conversion, with Jamie English adding a penalty.
St Columba & Torpoint’s game with the University of Plymouth was postponed.