IVYBRIDGE’S main focus this weekend for their South West Premier trip to Bournemouth is to tighten up defensively but without losing their attacking prowess.
The Bridgers have scored 97 points in their last two games against Royal Wootton Bassett and Old Redcliffians, but they have conceded 72 points in those two matches.
“We are taking in a bit of confidence into the game,” said head coach Gareth Elliott, whose side beat Royal Wootton Bassett 56-31 at Cross-in-Hand last week after narrowly losing 43-41 at Old Reds the game before.
“We showed against Old Reds, who are still up near the top, that we can compete.
“It is really just locking down defensively, that is our main focus this week as we have been shipping too many points.
“The guys know that is their focus, but hopefully the attacking side of things will still flow. If we can match the two up then it will go a long way to getting a result.”
Elliott, though, knows his side’s attacking form has helped them pick up seven bonus points from seven games to lift them to eighth in the table.
“Even though we have only won two games, the fact that we have got some bonus points means we are in an all right position in the table,” said Elliott. “Getting a lot of points on the board does tell as you do open up those bonus points.
“The guys are flowing well. There is a bit of a structure but the guys are also playing what is in front of them and trying to find some space.”
He added: “We have got guys with a lot of experience and some young guys with lots of energy. It is a good mix at the moment.”
Like most clubs, Ivybridge has struggled to get a settled team with injuries and unavailabilities.
This week Archie Bryan and Jon Morgan are unavailable but they are boosted by the return of Cameron Setter, Tom Scoles and Matt Burns.
Bournemouth, who have come down from National Two South, made a great start to the season, winning their opening four matches. However, they have lost their last three games to high-flying Exeter University, Exmouth and Hornets.
“The guys are quite familiar with the ground (at Bournemouth),” said Elliott. “We know the set-up and the process but we need to play our best rugby. They (Bournemouth) are possibly not in the most confident of moods, but it will probably take a good start and keeping that pressure on to have a good day.
“We know after a few losses they are going to be desperate to get back winning.”
SOUTH WEST ONE (WEST)
DEVONPORT Services are at home for the second week running as they welcome mid-table Keynsham to the Rectory in South West One.
Services extended their long unbeaten home record last Saturday by seeing off Wellington. That followed on from home wins over fellow high-flyers Chew Valley and St Austell.
However, coach Mike Lewis has warned his side not to underestimate Keynsham, who beat Crediton 27-7 last weekend and only lost 28-25 to Chew Valley in their previous game.
“It’s quite nice to have two home games on the trot,” said Lewis. “We do usually seem to get a couple more home games than away before Christmas, which I don’t think is a bad thing.”
He added: “We know every team can beat each other in this league.
“Crediton had hardly won when they played us but still beat us, so you always have to be on your toes and hopefully that game is still in the memory.
“When you do come up against teams in a lower position in the league you have to put in the same amount of effort.
“They (Keynsham) deserve to be in this league and are a good side. They are not in this league because they are lucky, they are in it because they do good things, but maybe just not quite as consistently at the moment as some other teams.
“But they like to play a bit of rugby and are a reasonable side. They have a really varied game and are a really troublesome team to breakdown. They have some really talented individuals in their squad – forwards and backs – so if you give them time of day they will take advantage.
“As we are at home we have to make sure we step up.”
Services are set to welcome back scrum-half Dylan Daley after he missed the match against Wellington with food poisoning, but forwards Matt Gregory, Matt Scott and Joe Daley are all doubts.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be looking to cause another upset this weekend when they travel to third-placed Bude.
Seventh-placed Oaks are unbeaten at home in the league, including seeing off high-flying Topsham, but have yet to win on the road.
Bude had not lost until last week when they crashed 43-17 at leaders Pirates Amateurs but they are yet to taste a defeat at home and Oaks’ past record in north Cornwall is not good.
“We have Bude and we never done well there, but maybe this is the year,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“Bude seem to be our bogey team, a bit like Tavistock. Those are the two fixtures we look at and think ‘oh, no not them’.
“But if we can get something from our scrum, without it going in reverse, we might do all right.
“We are good at home, but we need to win away at some point. We need to get that monkey off our backs.”
Tavistock will be hoping to bounce back from their shocker against Topsham last weekend when they travel to Torquay Athletic on Saturday.
The Sandy Park club’s unbeaten home record came crashing to an end as they lost 72-0.
Tavistock were missing a host of players last weekend and things have not got any better for them this Saturday with nine of the 18 who played against Topsham unavailable.
George Cole, who has been impressing in their second team, is get to get his first Cornwall/Devon League start this weekend.
“October hasn’t been a kind month to us injury wise,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy. “But there’s nothing to lose for us this weekend so we’ll go out and give it our best.”
Torquay will also be looking for a response after they lost heavily at Saltash last week.
Saltash will be aiming to make it two wins in a row when they travel to fellow Cornish side Veor on Saturday.
The Ashes got their long-awaited first win of the season in style last weekend as they beat Torquay 43-17 at Moorlands Lane.
Veor, who sit sixth in the table, lost 35-18 at Plymstock Albion Oaks last week but they are much stronger at home. Their only defeat so far on their own soil was a narrow 35-28 loss to the Pirates Amateurs, although they did have to settle for a draw with Newquay.
Elsewhere, Liskeard-Looe will be hoping that maybe this will be the weekend they finally get their first win when they host fellow strugglers Newquay at Lux Park.
Liskeard have been unlucky not to win their last three games, going down 5-3 to Withycombe, 14-13 at Hayle and drawing 20-20 with Cullompton.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OLD TECHS finally return to action after two weeks off when they travel to Buckfastleigh in Devon One (2.30pm).
After a blank weekend on October 16, Techs were left without a fixture last Saturday after Torrington gave them a walkover.
“The break has meant we have been able to rest people with niggling injuries and given others players a chance to get fit,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“But a two-week break could mean we are a bit rusty.
“However, we are just looking forward to getting back playing.
“It has been quite nice this week as I haven’t been ringing around trying to get a team. We had squad of about 19 or 20 on Monday.”
Techs are set to welcome back hooker Steve Wilkinson, who has not played since damaging his calf in the opening game of the season, lock James Douglas, prop Sean Doyle, and centre Will Booth.
They are also boosted by the recent arrival of Brett Tunnicliffe and Ben Hockey from Plymstock Albion Oaks.
Buckfastleigh are still looking for their first win of the campaign, but Bedford-Smith says his team cannot be complacent, especially having slipped up at Salcombe earlier in the campaign.
“We know it is never easy to go to Buckfastleigh and get a result,” said Bedford-Smith.
Tamar Saracens’ head coach Davy McGregor is set to come head-to-head with his former Plymouth Albion team-mate and fellow Irishman Eoghan Grace on Saturday when his side host Salcombe.
Both are in their first seasons coaching in Devon One and both have also been seen on the pitch this season. Hooker McGregor has made a few replacement appearance while former flanker Grace has been starting in the centre for Salcombe, although he is set to play fly-half on Saturday.
Sarries will be favourites having only lost once this season, while Salcombe have lost four of their six games.
But Tamar Saracens were frustrated with their performance last week against Plymouth Argaum and so will be hoping to improve this Saturday.
Third-placed OPMs will be eyeing their sixth win of the season when they travel to struggling Dartmouth.
The south Devon side have found it tough after the Covid-19 pandemic and have handed sides two walkovers in their last four games.
However, they have beat Buckfastleigh away and OPMs have found it a tough place to visit previously.
Plymouth Argaum are also on their travels on Devon One when they head to Torrington.
Argaum pushed Tamar Saracens all the way last week before narrowly losing 17-12, but again they have a much-changed team for an away game.
It seems likely the Bickleigh Down club will make eight personnel changes and even more positional changes for the trip north.
Torrington are yet to get a win this season but Argaum only have one victory to their name – at home to Salcombe – so they will not be taking anything for granted.
In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria are expecting a tough test when they play the University of Plymouth.
DHSOB are without a league match but have arranged a friendly against Saltash seconds.