IVYBRIDGE were over the moon on Saturday after ending their winless run in style by beating runaway South West Premier league leaders Barnstaple 17-10 at Cross-in-Hand.
The Bridgers had not claimed a victory in 2020 and were beginning to anxiously look over their shoulders.
But an impressive performance in tough conditions has lifted them back up to seventh in the table and to within four points of fifth-placed Okehampton.
It was the second time Ivybridge had beaten Barnstaple this season, having triumphed 15-13 at Pottington Road at the end of October.
“The conditions were horrendous but we just fought so hard,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott.
“It was all about our work-rate and endless endeavour. It was really pleasing to see the lads fight for each other and come out on top. It’s what they deserve really.
“We have had a couple of tough months. We have been there or there abouts, but that was a well-ground out win.
“It wasn’t easy and there were a lot of big moments in that match where we really hard to dig in. We defended on our line for a long period of time – and that probably won us the game. Even though they did eventually score, it took them a long time and that hurt.”
The Bridgers made a great start on the artificial pitch at Cross-in-Hand and led 12-0 at half-time in the joint league and Devon Senior Cup game.
Winger Matt Dayment gave them the lead with the game’s first try before highly-rated young flanker Adam Northcott got their second try before the break.
Barnstaple cut the gap after the interval with a try by Brendon Darley but the hosts restored their 12-point lead thanks to a touch-down by hooker Jay Geraty.
The visitors did get a second score through Luke Berry late on but it was too late for them to get anything more than a bonus point out of the game.
Ivybridge now have a week off before visiting Bracknell on February 29.
“It is good to take a win into a week off,” added Elliott. “It energises us.”
SOUTH WEST ONE
PROMOTION-chasing Devonport Services picked up five vital points as they beat Crediton 22-15 at a rain-soaked Keyham on Saturday.
Corey Jamieson was once again the man of the moment, scoring a try six minutes from time to secure his side a vital win that keeps the pressure on leaders leaders Hornets.
Services sit just a point behind their Somerset rivals and are now six points clear of Lydney and Thornbury in third and fourth, respectively.
Saturday’s win has also given Devonport a great chance of reaching and hosting the Devon Senior Shield final. A victory over struggling Newton Abbot in April would secure them that honour.
“It was tight,” said Services team manager Kieran Leach after Saturday’s win. “The conditions weren’t conducive to running rugby but both teams tried to play an expansive game, hence why there were a few errors, knock-ons and quite a few scrums.”
Services made the worst possible starts. After dropping the kick-off they soon found themselves 7-0 down after Crediton hooker Tom Luxmoore scored the game’s opening try and Rob Avery-Wright converted.
Devonport should have scored not long later when a great cross-field kick fell invitingly in the in-goal area for Jamieson to touch down, but in the wet conditions Services’ winger knocked it on.
However, the hosts did finally get a try when captain Matt Gregory crossed the whitewash from a line-out move following a penalty.
And then they went 10-7 up when they scored a great try, started from their own 22. Mark Friend made a good break down the blindside before the ball eventually came out to Richard West, who put Jake Inglis in to score in the corner.
Crediton, who had beaten Services at their place in October, did pull level on the stroke of half-time when former Plymouth Albion youngster Avery-Wright kicked a penalty.
The wind and rain made it difficult for both teams and there was no more scoring until the 60th minute when Services’ replacement hooker Sam Bennett, making his return from a broken hand, scored following a line-out move to make it 15-10.
Crediton pulled level again in somewhat controversial circumstances. One of their players knocked the ball on in their own half and kicked the it forward in frustration. With nearly everyone expecting the referee’s whistle to go, Crediton’s Devon Hosegood gave chase and picked it up to run in for a try.
But Devonport dug deep and snatched the victory and the bonus point when Jamieson ran in the under posts and Alex Mawdsley converted.
Services now have a week off before to possible season-defining trips to promotion rivals Thornbury and Hornets.
All the other games involving Plymouth Combination teams were postponed due to Storm Dennis.
However, Tavistock’s hopes of avoiding relegation have been boosted after Lanner surprisingly withdrew from the Cornwall/Devon League with just two months of the season left to play.
It should mean now that only two teams go down and Tavistock are currently third from bottom.