IVYBRIDGE had to make do with two losing bonus points from their short trip across the Tamar to play Launceston.
The Bridgers went down 26-22 at Polson Bridge as the Cornish All Blacks claimed their first win of the 2021-22 campaign.
Ivybridge, who had got off the mark the week before by beating Okehampton at Cross-in-Hand, had been 14-5 down at half-time and then had gone 21-5 and 26-10 behind before mounting a late fight-back to make sure they did not return empty-handed.
“What was positive was how we came back in the game and got two losing bonus points,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony, who played more than 100 games for Launceston.
“Ultimately that was not want we went for – we went for the ‘W’ – but Launceston is a very tough place to go. They played well and took their chances extremely well, so full credit to Launceston.”
Ivybridge were without a number of key players, including player-coach Charlie Briant and back-row forward Adam Northcott, who had joined Albion in midweek to help them out of an injury crisis.
Dan Pearce, who had impressed this summer on the athletics track for City of Plymouth AC, got Launceston on their way with the game’s opening try, which was converted by James Tucker.
Ivybridge pulled a try back through Will Murden, but the hosts, with former Albion player Rupert Freestone in their pack, increased their lead to nine points at the break with a converted touch-down by Adam Powell.
Cam Fogden added a third for the All Blacks after the interval to make it 21-5. George de Mendonca reduced the gap with his first of the day, which again was unconverted.
The home team got their fourth try with another for Fogden before De Mendonca also added a second.
And with the last play of the game, Ivybridge got an all-important fourth when scrum-half Ben Watts crossed.
SOUTH WEST ONE (WEST)
DEVONPORT Services turned on the style to beat Bridgwater & Albion 64-12 in their first away match of the season.
Services have now won three out of three ahead of next week’s top-of-the-table clash with fellow unbeaten side Chew Valley.
They scored nine tries in Somerset, with four coming inside the first 24 minutes. By half-time they led 38-5.
“In the first half we seemed to have all the play and did really well,” said coach Mike Lewis.
“At the start of the second half we took our foot of the gas and let them into the game slightly.
“There was always that nervousness that we might throw away a massive lead, but later in the second half we scored a couple of tries and that relieved the tension and we could play with a bit more freedom.”
Services have always been good at home but their away form has not been as consistent.
“We have always had issues away from home in terms of application, tired legs and stuff like that, but this week we just came out of the blocks and we really were fantastic in that first 20-30 minutes and that really did push us on,” said Lewis.
“But I have never been to Bridgwater and had an easy game – and this wasn’t easy either.
“The scoreline might suggest we were just walking through every time but it absolutely wasn’t. We really had to work hard for it. Even the last couple of tries we scored they didn’t stop working.
“I thought their attitude was fantastic. They will get better with that attitude, especially when they get players back.”
Like a lot of clubs Bridgwater are struggling with availabilities and injuries and former Albion flanker Wayne Sprangle had to play centre for them on Saturday.
Matt Neyle got Services off to the perfect start before debutant winger Ben Fincham scored.
Dylan Daley, Sam Bennett and Andy Pond added further first half touch-downs to put Devonport in a commanding position.
Royal Navy man Fincham got a second after the break to go with further tries by Rhys Williams, Joe Semple and another debutant David Byng, who has joined Services from Plymstock Albion Oaks.
However, Services’ win did come at a cost again with a few injuries, which is not ideal ahead of facing Chew Valley. Back Alex Mawdsley was also playing his last game for the club before going travelling.
TAVISTOCK came from 12-0 down early on to claim a 31-12 bonus-point win over Plymouth Combination rivals Plymstock Albion Oaks at Sandy Park on Saturday.
In a league and Devon Cup match where both teams were missing key players, Oaks had shown how quickly they can break from one end of the field to the other with two good tries in the opening 12 months through backs Kieran Jamieson and Alex Broughton.
Tavistock had pressed hard early on but just could not break through Oaks’ defence, but the game changed mid-way through the first half as the hosts started to dominate the scrums.
Rhys Davies closed the gap to nine points with a penalty on 22 minutes and then everything started to go wrong for Oaks. They lost highly-rated young back-rower Pete Keanie to yet another shoulder injury and then picked up two yellow cards and concede a penalty try just before the break.
The visitors just could not find a way to handle Tavistock’s set-piece and it cost them the game.
Tavistock went in front for the first time in the 55th minute when winger Sean Donnelly scored on the left after a hopeful kick forward caused Oaks all kinds of problems.
Conor Packwood quickly added a third try for the hosts out wide on the right, which Davies, as he had done with the previous score, brilliantly converted to make it 24-12.
Oaks did show fight and they came agonisingly close to scoring in the 64th minute but they were penalised on the line for a double moment.
Tavistock then showed some great defence to keep them out before they sealed the game with a Martin Budden try from a five-metre scrum after Oaks had knocked on in their in-goal area attempting to catch a missed penalty attempt at goal.
Tavistock assistant coach Darren Chappell was delighted with how his side’s set piece went on Saturday.
“The first 20 minutes Oaks threw the ball around and went 12-0 up but then all of a sudden our scrum started to get on top, which gave us the front foot,” said Chappell.
“The commitment from the players was awesome – everyone was putting their body on the line.
“We are making a habit of coming back stronger in the second half, but it is our scrum that is dominating for us whoever we seem to play. As soon as our scrum got on the ascendancy we started to dominant the match.
“It is all smiles from us – everyone is happy. The backs were good as well, it wasn’t just the scrum. The one-on-one commitment to go into tackles and make them was second to none.”
Plymstock coach Mark Lenthall said: “We had a lot of players missing and we just didn’t quite gel. We just didn’t have any dominance or parity in the set-piece so we struggled to get the ball.
“We have a young side – the front-row was young and are still learning.
“It was a bit disappointing as we know we are better than we played.
“If we’d had more possession I think we would have won. I think if we had moved the ball wide more we would have caused them problems, but if you don’t have a set-piece then you are going to struggle. They slowed the game down and it just became set-pieces and penalties and we just couldn’t get back from that.
“We have got some good runners and some good players but you have to have a platform to play off and we didn’t have one on the day.”
Before the match both clubs honoured former player Carl Parsons who sadly died last year with a minute’s applause and silence.
Meanwhile, Saltash suffered last-gasp heartbreak at Withycombe’s Raleigh Park on Saturday.
The Ashes looked to be on their way to their first win of the season as they led 16-3 and then 21-10 with just 13 minutes to go, but they ended up losing 22-21 at the hosts scored with the last play of the game.
It was cruel on Saltash but Withycombe are making a habit of snatching points at the death at home this season. In their previous home game they also scored with the last play to earn a draw with Plymstock.
Kieran Down had given Saltash the lead with a penalty before Tom Cooke kicked one of his own on 34 minute to pull Withycombe level.
But straight away Saltash responded with a converted try by debutant centre Jay Smith-Jones to make it 10-3.
Down kicked another two penalties to edge the visitors 16-3 ahead before the hosts closed the gap with a Will Hockin converted try.
Saltash hit back again with fly-half Down collecting his own chip over to score and put his side in a commanding position with 13 minutes to go.
But they were unable to hold on as, first, hooker George Doughty went over and then replacement Dave Thomson scored in the corner in the last seconds to win the game for his team.
Liskeard-Looe also remain winless after the first month of the season after they lost 38-8 at Torquay Athletics.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
IT WAS not a good weekend for the Plymouth Combination teams in Devon One, with only Tamar Saracens avoiding a defeat.
But Sarries were not too happy after they were forced to settle for a 17-17 draw at home with New Cross.
The hosts had been 11-0 up at half-time with a try by winger Jordan Wilds and two penalties from Tommy Pullinger.
But New Cross, who are unbeaten this season, hit back in the second half and went 14-11 up. Pullinger then kicked Sarries level before he made it 17-14 with another kick. But in the last minute the visitors got a controversial penalty which they kicked to tie the contest.
“We started off really well,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge. “The first half was really good. We were really structured and played really good patterns. We were really happy with the first half and we were thinking ‘ideal we can push on from here’.
“But 20 minutes into the second half and we hadn’t been out of our half. It was that second half syndrome again.
“But it was a good game, played in a really good spirit.”
Lethbridge admitted before the game he might have taken a draw but was then left disappointed after leading and then letting it slip.
OPMs’ unbeaten start to the season came crashing to an end as they were beaten 43-5 away at South Molton.
Mark Hardy scored their only points in north Devon with a brilliantly individual effort.
“They (South Molton) were good,” said OPMs coach Rick Orkney. “Apparently they had a completely different backline to what they played at New Cross last week and we had so many drop-outs. We had a lot of boys playing out of position.
“We did really well in the first half. They scored a try right on half-time to make it 15-0 but we were probably the better side in that first half playing down the slope. But second half they just ran away with it and we ran out of bodies. Fair play, they were good.
“We were a long way off full strength and we can’t have any complaints.”
Old Techs had a frustrating trip to league newcomers Salcombe on Saturday. They lost 18-12 and captain Billy Evans suffered a really nasty leg injury that is set to keep him out until at least Christmas.
Evans was caught by a sliding tackle that left him with a puncture wound from studs, a chipped bone and ligament damage. He ended up in hospital and was due to undergo an operation on Sunday.
That summed up Techs’ day. They had availability problems and so Simon Raymont came out of retirement to play hooker and Shaun Bedford-Smith and Dave Evans were named on the bench, along with Gary Cox and Rory McGill, who had also previously retired from playing.
But they still could have won the game but they wasted chances and a few decisions did not go their way.
“We were hoping to go up and get a win, but it was a tough ask,” said chairman Dave Evans. “We had two potential tries held up over the line and a few handling errors close in.
“We are disappointed with the result, but we went up with a really scratch side. Simon Raymont came out of retirement and played the whole 80 minutes.”
Techs were without any of their 29 Commando players due to a regimental match and have also picked up a host of injuries in the opening month of the season.
However, there were some positives on Saturday with new back signings Tom Ryan and Paul Bethwick scoring tries for them.
It was also a day to forget for Plymouth Argaum, who lost 64-15 at Totnes.
Argaum had also been struggling to get a team out but were determined to fulfil the fixture.
Plympton Victoria were in a similar situation in the Devon Merit Table, but also honoured the derby fixture with DHSOB at Stonehouse Creek.
However, the Old Boys were too strong and won 41-15 to secure their second win of the campaign.
New signing Dave Trott, better known for his footballing talent, got DHSOB off the mark with the game’s first try. Plym Vic did response to cut the gap to 7-5 but then the hosts went 19-5 up at the break with further tries by another new signing, Dylan Lamerton, and a solo effort from captain Scotty Pearson.
After the interval, Lewis Jeffery and then Del Ingelson, scoring the try of the match from his own 22, increased Sharks’ lead to 29-5.
Plym Vic then had a good spell. They pulled a try back before Trott got another for DHSOB. The visitors cut the lead to 34-15 before Dan Hancock added another for the hosts late on.
Mark Hart, Dan Warne and Chris Barrett scored Plym Vic’s tries.
DHSOB coach Dan Pengelly was keen to thank Plym Vic for honouring the fixture even though they were struggling for availabilities. He was also pleased with his side’s performance.
“We demonstrated our class with a dominant performance and well-executed game-plan,” said Pengelly. “Vics, as always, fought to the end and did not let us have it all our own way, scoring three great team tries.
“But all the hard work in pre-season and the work we have put in lately in training came together and we showed when everything gels we can be a class outfit and a force to be reckoned with.
“We also demonstrated how the depth of our squad is continuing to build and with every match we seem to be getting stronger and stronger.”
Plymouth Fijians were left without a match after St Columba & Torpoint were unable to field a side.
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