IVYBRIDGE will be looking to continue their recent winning run when they travel to bottom side Camborne.
The Bridgers have won their last three matches to move up to sixth in the South West Premier table.
Camborne, in contrast, have only one win to their name this season. But the Cornish club have not been easy to beat at home, despite their position.
High-flying Exmouth needed a dramatic comeback to beat them 30-24 in the last match at the Recreation Ground, while before that they beat Drybook there. Weston-super-Mare and Bournemouth also had to dig deep to win in Cornwall so Ivybridge will not be taking them lightly.
“We have never had a game down there that has been easy so we know it will be a challenge,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott, whose team, like most others, had a Saturday off last weekend.
“A lot of their (Camborne’s) results have been quite tight and they are at home. They have also had a break week so I am sure they have been working on stuff they want to improve. We are definitely not going to take them lightly.
“From what I know, they still have a lot of good players. You have seen with us, when you have a few new guys it can take a bit of time for people to bed in. That was us at the start of the season and it might be the same with them. They might just be getting used to playing with each other and they haven’t been miles off.”
He added: “It was good to get three wins and then have a bit of a re-charge. We are hoping for an energetic performance this weekend having had that break.
“But it is just about the guys going in with the right mind-set. If we can be as good in attack as we have been then we will definitely challenge them.
“It is just about taking the right mind-set down there, into the warm-up and into the start of the match.”
Ivybridge have suffered a few injury blows in their back three.
Tom Scoles, Archie Bryan and Matt Burns are all ruled out of this weekend’s clash due to injury.
Young winger Burns, who was ruled out for more than a year after representing England Counties Under-18s due to a serious knee injury, suffered another set-back last week.
The club are waiting to find out the full extent of the injury suffered in a second team game, but Elliott admits it was a worrying one.
“It is quite a serious one unfortunately,” said Elliott. “It was a non-contract injury. His knee just went as he was side-stepping. He’s pretty gutted.”
George de Mendonca, Harrison Legge and Damon Akerman are likely to be the back three this weekend, with Ben Collins set to come in for Sam Furse, who is unavailable.
SOUTH WEST ONE
THIRD-placed Devonport Services will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they entertain fifth-placed Newent at the Rectory.
Services lost away at Lydney in their last match and head coach Mike Lewis admits it was not an easy defeat to get over.
“We will never get over it,” said Lewis. “Crediton and Lydney, those losses just linger.
“Lydney have a fantastic defence and are tough to break down and we knew that. Their attack had not been the best, but it seemed like they got the rub of the green a bit with some decisions and it turned the game completely.”
Services’ two defeats this season have come away from home, but they are unbeaten at the Rectory since April 2019 and they do not want to lose that record.
“We have to be relentless with our home form,” said Lewis. “We just have to perform well.
“We have to get into the game and do all those little processes. If you keep doing that during the game you will go well.
“It is easy to focus on wins and stuff, but players just need to focus on what their next job is. That’s what we have to keep doing.”
He added: “We played Newent a couple of years ago. We won at home, not comfortably but well, but then when we went away the referee played 17 minutes of added-on time and gave us two yellow cards and they scored with the last play of the game to win it. That is another game I still haven’t got over.
“They are a typical Gloucestershire team with a big bunch of forwards and a couple of dynamic backs. We just have to get off the line and chop them early. If you don’t they are going to be in the ascendency. We have to meet them at the gain-line.”
Winger Matt Neyle pulled his hamstring in the last match against Lydney, but Services should be able to welcome back Royal Navy back Rhys Williams, while Toby Lean and Matt Richards could be in line to make their home debuts after featuring away at Lydney.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be looking to finally get an away win this season when they travel to bottom club Hayle on Saturday.
Oaks are unbeaten at home but just have not been able to pick up four points on the road. The closest they came was a draw with newly-promoted Withycombe.
“We may finally get our first away win of the season this week, but you just never know in this league,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“We don’t know what Hayle have got so you never know what might happen.
“Looking at their results, they have given some games away, they have had some close games and some not so close games, but if they have everyone available you just don’t know what they are going to put out.
“I am looking at our next few games and we have four home games on the trot after this so we are hoping for the first time this season to build a bit of momentum.
“We just somehow have to prove we can win away. We have proved we can match any team at home. I just don’t know what happens when we go away.
“But the table is quite tight and teams are within reach to chase down if we could get a few wins. Hopefully, in the next five games we can get five wins, but we will have to wait and see. We have to get past this away trip first.”
Oaks are far from full strength this weekend. Centres Alex Broughton and Hugh Moorcraft are both injured, as are forwards George Hamlin and Tom Worboys, while Kieran Jamieson, Tim Coats and Andy Porter are likely to be missing.
But Oaks hope to have prop Sean Dunn back and key forwards Mike Hunt and Ryan McKibben for the trip to Cornwall.
“We have people unavailable this week and so our team is probably not going to be what we might want it to be, but it is still better than what we have had out some weeks this season,” said Taylor.
Tavistock face a tough trip to second-placed Bude, who are unbeaten on their own soil this season.
The Sandy Park club got back to winning ways before last weekend’s break when they overcame Veor 43-14 after back-to-back losses against Topsham and Torquay.
“We are looking to carry on from where we left off against Veor,” said head coach Joel Caddy.
“Bude will be a tough team to play at their place but we’re up for the challenge.”
Like most clubs, Tavistock have struggled to get a consistent team out this season due to injuries and unavailabilities.
“Big kudos to the lads as with the run of injuries and availability issues at times they have been brilliant at knuckling down and filling in positions that are not their normal ones,” said Caddy.
“Mass changes on a weekly basis are the new norm.
“The pack is relatively unchanged since the Veor game, but the backline once again has mass changes.
“There will be a first start for Tom Osborne, who has looked good in training since joining us the other week. He’s the twin of Jack Osborne, who has been outstanding for us this season so fingers crossed he’s a good, if not better!”
Saltash will be out to try and secure their first away victory when they travel to fifth-placed Cullompton.
Both clubs have been inconsistent since coming down from Western Counties West, but Cullompton have managed to win five of their nine games, whereas Saltash only have one win to their name so far.
Saltash are set to welcome back the likes of Kieran Down, Ryan Cruickshanks, James Moriaty, Lewis Woolaway, Ryan Simmonds and Chris Carpenter who all missed their last game against Bude.
Meanwhile, winless Liskeard-Looe have a tough test when they host high-flying Pirates Amateurs at Lux Park on Saturday.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OPMs and Old Techs both have tough trips to Exeter this weekend in Devon One.
Second-placed OPMs travel to Exeter Saracens, while fifth-placed Techs visit their neighbours Exeter Athletic.
Saturday will be OPMs’ first league game for three weeks after a blank weekend and a surprising walkover handed to them by the much-fancied Exeter Athletic, who had only lost one game before that.
“I think that is just the world we are living in at the moment,” said OPMs coach Rick Orkney. “They (Exeter Athletic) are real high-flyers and we expected them to be really strong, but I think they had two cases of covid and a wedding.
“Sides haven’t got the strength in-depth at the moment. I think that is going to happen throughout the season because some people haven’t returned back to the game as quickly as we thought they would.”
On this weekend’s fixture against Exeter Saracens, Orkney said: “They are also doing very well. I think they are quite a good team. If we can get a good side out then it will be a good test to see where we are.
“I think we continue to be slightly flattered by the position we are in. Things have been going our way at the moment, but that could turn on its head overnight.
“We have been lucky in the fact that our players have largely come back. We are just about getting a second team out, although that has been a bit of a struggle, but the bulk of the first team have been there, although we have picked up a few injuries on the way.”
Old Techs, who narrowly lost to city rivals Tamar Saracens last week, also expect a big test at Exeter Athletic.
“It is going to be a tough game,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “We have the same old story with availability this weekend.
“It is a funny old season as they is so much other stuff going on like weddings in November and December and people going away on holiday when normally all these things were done and dusted by this point.
“It is just a case of going up there with what we have and seeing how we do. The good thing this season is we can have 10 players missing but still put out a strong team and we have got more strength in depth. However, it would just be nice to have everyone available at the same time.”
Techs have had two players in back-to-back games scoring hat-tricks. Winger Dan Pullen bagged one against Buckfastleigh, while fellow winger Peni Turua claimed one last week against Tamar Saracens.
“We are trying to play a bit of rugby,” said Bedford-Smith. “The ball is getting out to our backs and they are scoring tries.”
Turua, though, is likely to be missing this weekend.
Plymouth Argaum will be looking to finally get an away win this season when they travel to bottom side Dartmouth.
However, Dartmouth are only bottom as they have handed three teams walkovers. When they have been able to field a side they have won three matches so Argaum will not be taking anything for granted.
Argaum, though, have a stronger team this week than for most of their other away matches outside Plymouth and they go into the match on the back of a 29-7 victory over Buckfastleigh in their last outing.
Meanwhile, Tamar Saracens will be looking to build on their win over Old Techs last weekend when they travel to Totnes.
Totnes have only won three of their eight matches this season, but Sarries will not be taking them lightly after losing their last two meetings to them.
Totnes started the season really well but they have not won since beating Argaum 64-15 at the end of September.
“We have Totnes away and a lot will depend on what type of team they have out,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge.
Sarries, though, will be optimistic of getting another win to move them up the table.
In the Devon Merit Table, DHSOB finally return to action after a few weeks off with an away trip to Horsham Fields to play Plymstock Albion Oaks II, while Plympton Victoria are due to host Brixham Albion at St Mary’s.