IVYBRIDGE are up-and-running in the South West Premier after they beat Devon rivals Okehampton 34-11 at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
It was the Bridgers’ first home match of the 2021-22 campaign after starting with tough away trips to Hornets and Weston-super-Mare.
They lost their opening two fixtures but there was never really any doubt they were going to win on Saturday against an Okehampton side who also went into the league and Devon Cup game without a win to their name.
Matt Grieveson gave Ivybridge the perfect platform to build from with two penalties in the opening five minutes.
Kieran Lee pulled one back for the visitors but Grieveson then kicked two more to give his side a 12-3 lead after 20 minutes.
The game was probably decided in a 10-minute spell before half-time. Ivybridge had a player sin-binned as Okehampton pressed after a 50:22 kick gave them a line-out five-metre out. The visitors camped on Ivybridge’s line for a good five minutes but could find no way through the home side’s defence.
And, against the run of play, Ivybridge scored a try out of nothing as Okehampton overthrew a line-out and the ball fell perfectly for scrum-half Ben Watts, who was able to run from his own half and score in the right corner to give his side a 17-3 half-time lead.
Grieveson and Lee exchanged penalties at the start of the second period before former Albion player Cameron Setter showed good speed and strength to score close to the posts and put his side 27-6 ahead.
Okehampton, with ex-Albion forward Gareth Evans in their pack, did reduce the gap to 27-11 with a drive try from Tom White, but Ivybridge were not finished yet, despite going down to 14 men again after a yellow card following a brawl.
The hosts wasted a guilt-edged chance in the clubhouse corner before the impressive Adam Northcott scored a fine try behind the posts which Grieveson converted.
Director of rugby Jamie Tripcony was delighted with the win.
“The guys have worked really hard for this,” said Tripcony.
“Having two away games was a tough start to the season and, as Gareth (Elliott) had said during the week, we were just excited to be at home again and show our fans who have not seen us for nearly two years what we can still do.”
Tripcony admitted the early penalties did help.
“In rugby you have to try and build a lead,” he said. “The points were on offer so we decided to take them. We felt in control of the game with our go-forward. Our speed at the breakdown allowed us to apply the pressure that got us those penalties. It was a chance to settle the nerves and get ourselves into the game.”
Tripcony was delighted with the way the team defended with 14 men towards the end of the first half.
“That is probably what won us the game,” he admitted. “There was a huge momentum swing from us being five-metres from our own line to then getting a turnover and going the length of the field to score a try. The guys put in a real big shift defensively and that was a big part of the game.
“We do pride ourselves on our defence and the guys really stood up.”
Ivybridge missed out on the bonus point as they only scored three tries.
“We had an opportunity near the end, but there’s always going to be work-ons,” said Tripcony. “But we are just pleased to get the win.
“We were just desperate for the win and the guys’ work-rate showed that.
“Full credit to the guys as it wasn’t just on the day it was the build-up – last week and the week before working hard in training.”
SOUTH WEST ONE (WEST)
DEVONPORT Services made it two wins out of two as they beat Thornbury 28-12 at the Rectory on Saturday.
Thornbury had finished second in 2019-20 season with Services fourth so it was an important game to try and win.
However, Services were left a bit frustrated at the end that they missed out on a bonus point after scoring two tries in the opening 14 minutes.
Liam Jarvis, who was making his 50th appearances for the first team, gave Devonport the lead after just three minutes when he scored from a maul.
Scrum-half Dylan Daley then marked his first start of the season with a try after good play by Matt Neyle.
Thornbury scrum-half Sam Poustie pulled one back for the visitors before West kicked a drop-goal and then kicked a penalty to make it 18-5.
Services lost both centre Tom Richards and forward Andy Pond to injuries in the opening 30 minutes which did not help their momentum.
Centre Jack Pickles scored a second try for Thornbury, which Jake Wood converted, before another West penalty gave Services a 21-12 half-time lead.
The only score in the second period came from a winger Neyle after a West break from a line-out.
Services, who had been without a game last week, did not think they were at their best on Saturday and described the win as ‘scrappy’.
“One of the positives we will take is that we weren’t that cohesive but we still beat a very good team,” said Services’ Stuart Busfield.
“The team did come off the pitch with a really good win but they still felt some frustration.
“The guys felt it could have been a more emphatic victory. I think part of the frustration is because we didn’t get the bonus point.
“However, we did play 20 minutes of the game with 14 men as we had two sin-binnings.”
Busfield added: “The team did what we asked of them and came out of the blocks a bit quicker this week, which was another real positive.
“The first 20 minutes we could have maybe have stepped up through the gears and run away with it, but credit to Thornbury they started to carry well and they made a real fist of the middle part of the game. They came back and made life difficult for us.
“Thornbury brought two teams down and we did win both games so it was a great day for the club but it has also given us some more work-ons.”
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks got their first win of the season in emphatic fashion by beating Plymouth Combination rivals Saltash 51-7 at Horsham Fields.
The Ashes, who are in the process of rebuilding their team, have had a tough start to life back in the Cornwall/Devon League with defeats to North Tawton, Pirates Amateurs and now Oaks.
Saltash have recovered from poor starts in previous years and next week’s match at fellow winless side Withycombe will be a big game for them.
Oaks, though, are now hoping they can push on after finally getting off the mark after a one-point loss at the Pirates and a draw at Withycombe.
“It was just what we needed,” said Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor, who ended up having to play at fly-half on Saturday after their 10 dropped out just before kick-off.
“The first 15 minutes it was close but then we got a try and then we really pushed on.
“To be fair, we did turn on the screw – we were good.”
Oaks were leading 26-0 at half-time having already secured the bonus point at the change of ends, but they did not let up in the second 40 minutes.
Harvey Courtis and Alex Broughton both got two tries apiece for Plymstock, while Corey Jamieson, Tim Coats, Mike Hunt and Regan Spencer also crossed the whitewash. With no recognised goalkicker, young number eight Pete Keanie was given the responsibility for the conversions.
Next week Oaks face another derby when they visit Tavistock.
“It is just nice to get a win, but next week should be interesting,” said Taylor.
Tavistock suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday when they were beaten 38-14 at Mennaye Field by the Pirates Amateurs.
The game was played after the Championship match between the Cornish Pirates and Richmond and so there was a much larger crowd than normal for a Cornwall/Devon League fixture.
Tavistock were without a host of players due to injuries and unavailabilities and could only manage two tries courtesy of Andrew Craddock and Rhys Davies, who converted both.
The Pirates scored six tries. Connor Bick got two for the hosts to go with a penalty try and further ones from Sam Heath, Ben Taylor and Stan Somer. Former Albion and Cornish Pirates full-back Rhodri McAtee added three conversions.
Liskeard-Looe picked up a bonus point as they narrowly lost 14-10 at home to Veor.
OLD TECHS came back from 10-0 down to beat city rivals Plymouth Argaum 20-10 at Weston Mill and bag their first win of the season.
Argaum, who also went into the match looking for their first victory, started really well and a try by Karl Sullivan and a conversion and penalty from JJ vom Hagen put them in the driving seat.
But Techs got a try back just before half-time when Eddie Ramazani managed to power over from five metres out.
And after the interval front-rower Sean Doyle crashed over from 15 metres out and then centre Dave Clack scored another try for the hosts, which Billy Evans converted. Evans then kicked a penalty to put his side two scores up and they were able to hang on for four valuable points.
“It was a good win, but a hard win,” said Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith. “They (Argaum) didn’t make it easy for us, but I think overall we were the better side and we did deserve to win.”
He added: “They went 10-0 in first 20 minutes. It was one of those where I thought we were doing quite well but then suddenly we were 10 points down.
“But, to be fair, even when we went 10 points down the players didn’t let their heads drop and we managed to get a try back before half-time.
“The second half was still quite tight even though we sort of took control.
“We felt we were doing well but there were still a few scary moments but then Billy put a penalty over with about 10 minutes left which meant they had to score twice. That gave us a bit of breathing space.
“They did come back and looked like they were going to score at one point but we managed to keep them out and then close the game out.
“I think we did control it a bit better than last week against Totnes. I did say to them that every week we are going to learn things. Last week we were 10 points up with 10 minutes to go and ended up losing the game, but this week we got 10 points up and managed to close out the game.
“But just getting a win was good – the boys are buzzing – hopefully we can move on and we start getting a few more.”
Argaum coach Brett Stroud was disappointed his side again came away empty handed.
“We really wanted the win but it didn’t happen,” he said.
“We were outstanding in the first half, but we knocked on just before half-time when we could have gone 17-0 up and then they have gone up the other end and scored. It was a bit soft from us and it made it 10-5 at half-time and second half they (Techs) grew into it.
“It was disappointing, especially considering the rugby we have played in certain areas in the last three games that we have just not been able to close a game out.
“Against OPMs with 15 minutes to go we were five points up and this week we were in a good position at half-time but didn’t really turn up for the second.
“We just need to work on our game-management. I have told them they have to own it.”
Tamar Saracens and OPMs were without league games at the weekend.
OPMs should have been hosting Salcombe but the South Hams side could not raise a side and so gifted the Old Boys a walkover.
Instead, OPMs played Saltash II in a friendly and won 54-19 with Fred Smale (2), Mike Eves, Alex Jewell, Callum Morgan, Mylo Connell and Shaun Grundy scoring tries and Sam Matts converting them all.
DEVON MERIT TABLE
PLYMOUTH Fijians made their league debut on Saturday and picked up two bonus points in a narrow 34-27 defeat to a Torquay Athletic II side at the Recreation Ground.
As Torquay’s first team were without a match – Newquay Hornets handed them a walkover – there was a good crowd to watch the Devon Merit Table match and they were treated to plenty of tries.
The Fijians ended up with five courtesy of Atu Kavula, Rab Seru, Billy Tale, Darren Rosevear and Steve Chapman.
“It was a great game of rugby, which we could have won,” said Mike Freeman.
“We conceded a try in the first two minutes but after that we came back and got within two points at one stage.”
The Fijians nearly came close to equalising in the closing stages.
“We had the move of the game and Atu ran the length of the pitch but just ran out of steam and was tackled five-metres short. An equalising try would have been no more than he deserved.
“We were a little bit gutted we didn’t win but overall we were quite happy to go to Torquay against a well-drilled side and get two bonus points.
“We had a great day and made history and we also had a fantastic time at Torquay Rugby Club, who were a credit to rugby. They looked after us all day long and we had a tremendous time. I think they were really overjoyed that we honoured the fixture.”
DHSOB played their second league match of the season on Saturday, going down 12-0 to Tavistock II in a tight match at Sandy Park.
The Sharks had won their opening match against OPM II 5-0 the previous week and started well at Tavistock but they found the home club’s defence in fine form.
Despite some good ball carrying from Lewis Jeffery and good play by new full-back Dave Trott and centre Rob Hall, DHSOB went into the change of ends 7-0 down.
The hosts sealed the win late in the second half with a try in the corner.
Scotty Pearson just missed with a penalty kick for the Old Boys, who tried everything to at least secure a bonus point.
“I was incredibly proud of the lads,” said DHSOB head coach Dan Pengelly. “When I first saw the fixture list I had predicted this was going to be a game about damage limitation, however, the lads are showing even as a new team that they are not afraid of anyone in this league.
“Ultimately, it was our own mistakes that cost us the result and I came away feeling we missed an opportunity to take the win.
“The lads also demonstrated they have become a family more than a team and this game will be a massive step to securing the rebuild of DHSOB RFC. We look forward to Plym Vic at home next week.”
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