IVYBRIDGE make a second trip to Weston-super-Mare in the space of seven days on Saturday.
Last weekend they were beaten 39-24 by the Hornets, while this weekend they take on their town rivals Weston, who lost away at Bournemouth in their opening game.
“We are going back up to nearly the same place, which is a bit weird,” said Ivybridge coach Gareth Elliott. “But it is also weird having back-to-back away games.”
He added: “It shouldn’t be much of a different approach for us. The good thing is that we now have that gauge from last weekend about our own performance. Pre-season is always a bit difficult as you are trying to give people game-time and so have bigger squads.
“Now we’ve had that (league) game we have been able to practice the things that we need to work on.”
Ivybridge are missing a couple of players through injury. Tom Scoles is out but Ivybridge are able to welcome back Damon Akerman after illness.
Summer arrival Sam Furse is almost missing so Marcus Prout comes into the starting line-up, with Luke Evans coming on to the bench.
Ivybridge are also set to hand a league debut to youngster Archie Bryan, who will start on the wing.
“He has impressed in training,” said Elliott. “He’s young, sharp and fast. He has still got a little bit to learn, but he looks exciting. He is still to nail down what position he is going to play – he looks quite versatile and could play in a number of positions across the backline.”
Will Murden and Jack Skinner will start this week, having begun on the bench last week.
Meanwhile, Devonport Services, who enjoyed an impressive 33-5 win over St Austell last weekend, are without a game on Saturday.
Services should have been travelling to Stroud, but the Gloucestershire side pulled out of the league just two weeks before the season was due to start.
However, their second team is in action at home in Devon Merit Table Division One against Ivybridge’s seconds (3pm).
TAVISTOCK are expecting a tough test on Saturday as they kick-off their home campaign by welcoming North Tawton to Sandy Park.
Both clubs got off to a winning start last weekend. Tavistock beat Newquay 21-19 away, while North Tawton claimed an eye-catching 26-5 home win over Saltash.
North Tawton have kept the bulk of their squad from before the pandemic and have added to it with the likes of Devon player Tom McGratton from Okehampton.
Both sides look stronger than they did in the 2019-20 season and so Saturday’s game will be a good test of their progress, although Tavistock are not at full strength this week.
“After a great start last week, we have sadly lost several to injuries of one sort or another, along with numerous lads also attending weddings etc so there are several changes this week,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“But the lads stepping in have a chance to put a claim on the shirt. There is good competition among the lads for spots now.”
He added: “We are looking forward to our first match at home in the league. There’s a reasonable forecast so there should be a decent crowd. It should be a good afternoon.
“North Tawton will be tough. There’s a touch of unknown with no-one having played for so long, but that adds to the excitement.”
Tavistock’s second team are also in action with an away trip to St Columba & Torpoint.
Among those missing for Tavistock this week is player-coach Hammy Kerswill, who has previously played for North Tawton.
Plymstock Albion Oaks will be hoping to make up for last weekend’s one-point defeat at the Pirates Amateurs when they travel to newly-promoted Withycombe on Saturday.
“They (Withycombe) have always been a good team,” said Oaks’ player-coach Aiden Taylor. “I don’t know too much about them. Previously we have always done quite well against them at home but have always struggled a bit against them away.”
Taylor admitted last week was frustrating, but that it has given them hope that they can do quite well in the league.
“It was devastating last week,” he said. “Yet, to be honest, I don’t think we expected to do that well as we had heard a lot about the Pirates.
“But in the first 10 minutes we realised we were really in the game. We had a real purple patch just before and after half-time.
“The referee did disallow a try for us, which I didn’t understand as it looked like a clear try in the corner from Jack Green. We would have gone 11 points up had we got that, but they then got the ball and we had penalty after penalty against us and we had two yellow cards within a minute from scrum infringements – they got a penalty try and we also got a yellow card. We were down to 13 players for nine minutes and they scored another try. We were then trying to claw it back, which we nearly did.
“We were all a bit gutted, but we looked at ourselves after the game and realised we were so in there despite having lots of players missing.
“It is a case of now can we get some consistency in our play and take it a bit more seriously with everyone committing more? If we do that we might be able to get into the top four again.
“As a coaching set-up we are pleading with players to just commit a bit more. We just have to keep banging on about as if we do want to push on then we need to put in the work.”
Saltash play their first home match on Saturday when they entertain the Pirates Amateurs at Moorlands Lane.
The Ashes will be hoping to be a bit stronger this week than they were when they travelled to North Tawton. Numbers have been slowly improving at training and they will be keen to take advantage of their home pitch.
The south east Cornwall club are intending to make an event of their first competitive home game in 18 months with music afterwards and a beer pong league.
The club will hold a minute’s silence before the match to remember former players John Blower, Steve Wright and Pierre Morrod.
Meanwhile, Liskeard-Looe’s start to the season does not get any easier with a tough trip to Torquay Athletic.
The Lions lost 41-0 at home last week, while Torquay beat Hayle 36-7 away.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OPMs face their second derby game in seven days when they make the trip to Roborough to take on Plymouth Argaum.
OPMs made a winning start to the 2021-22 season last week with a 33-10 home over Old Techs.
They will be favourite against a new-look Argaum side, who were beaten 29-5 at New Cross, but they expect a tough battle at Bickleigh Down.
“It will be tough – it always is with them,” said OPMs coach Rick Orkney. “It is normally always close when we play them and I expect the same.
“They play their pitch well. They have a good catch-and-drive, so we need to be prepared for that.”
Argaum are able to welcome back Tom Holliday, while newcomers Toby Colyer and Arthur Black will make their debuts in the centre. There could also be a debut from the bench from youngster Harrison Truswell.
But Argaum did pick up a few injuries last weekend, including to highly-rated Jack Norris, who is facing a couple of months out after dislocating his shoulder.
“Last week we were rocked by a few late injuries,” said vice-chairman Stuart Quarterman. “We also had a few involved in rugby league, but we are hoping for better availability this weekend.
“The last time we played them (OPMs) they were strong up front with some weapons out wide so we have to be aware of that.
“It sounds like our discipline let us down a bit last week so that’s is also something we have to be aware of this week.”
Tamar Saracens will be hoping to get off the mark in Devon One on Saturday when they host Exeter Saracens in their first home match of the season.
Tamar Saracens were disappointed to lose 22-10 last week at Exeter Athletic, who have come down from the league above.
Exeter Saracens also had frustration as they were beaten 28-27 at home to another former Cornwall/Devon League side, South Molton.
Both Saracens sides finished in the top four in 2019-20, but the Plymouth side did win the one and only meeting of the teams that season.
“We are missing a few,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge ahead of this week’s challenge. “Exeter Saracens are quite a good unit, so it will be another tough day at the office.”
Old Techs will be looking for their first win of the season when they travel old rivals Totnes.
Techs were hit by a number of injuries in last week’s match against OPMs.
Hooker Steve Wilkinson had to go off with a calf injury, prop Jenson Baker suffered a shoulder injury and flanker Grant Aiken came off with a twisted knee. All are ruled out of Saturday’s match, as is prop Phil Coverdale, who is away.
Fellow powerful back Matt Simmonds also moves into the pack. He will start at number eight, with Techs having more backs to select from this week.
Dan Pullen and Lewis Harvey are back for Techs, who will hand a debut to former Plymstock Albion Oaks and Liskeard-Looe centre Will Booth.
Booth suffered a serious knee injury while at Oaks, but is now ready to return to rugby action.
“Will’s a really good signing for us,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
He added: “This week is going to be a test as we have got a lot of injuries. It means we are going to be playing people out of position.
“We are also keen to give young players a chance this year. We have got a few 18 and 19-year-olds who want to play and you have to give them an opportunity.
“We are expecting a tough game at Totnes – our second away game in a row.
“But for us it is about trying to fix the mistakes from last week. The good thing was that numbers were good in training this week so the players do want to put it right.”
Totnes will be on a high after they beat Buckfastleigh 24-12 away.
In the Devon Merit Table, Devonport High School Old Boys are due to open their season with a home game against OPM Jesters on the top pitch at Brickfields.
St Columba & Torpoint are set to begin their season with a home match against Tavistock II, while Peninsula Medical School are in line to make their debut in the league with a home match against Torquay II.
Plympton Victoria had been due to travel to Kingsbridge II but that game has now been postponed.