RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge look to bounce back as Services eye crucial away win

IVYBRIDGE will be looking to get back on track after their slip up last weekend at Camborne when they host bottom club Drybook at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in South West Premier.

The Bridgers, who had been on a three-game winning run, lost 34-25 down in Cornwall after playing the majority of the game with a man less after scrum-half Ben Watts picked up a red card early on.

“Last week was disappointing but there were reasons behind it,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott.

“However, we have a good opportunity to bounce back from last weekend.

“We are not out of form as we had taken a few wins into last week, hopefully, it was just a blip.”

Despite playing for some long with 14 players, Ivybridge were leading at one point in the second half and were within a score going into the final few minutes but then had a player sin-binned and conceded a last-gasp try.

“It was particularly frustrating conceding that try right at the death as that meant we didn’t even get a bonus point – and I think that would have at least been fair for us considering how well we stuck in there,” said Elliott.

“This week has just been about bigging ourselves back up and getting over some bumps and bruises.

“We just have to make sure the guys are ready for the weekend – and I’ know they will be. They enjoy playing at home and in front of their supporters.

“It was so long through the lockdowns that we didn’t play rugby so every time we do get to play in front of our home crowd is quite special. The lads really enjoy it.”

Drybook may be bottom but they have had some close results and have beaten Brixham and drawn with Old Centralians.

“We have played them before,” said Elliott. “From what we can remember they had a good kicking game and a pretty solid set-piece, so we need to be good in those two areas. The weather looks a little blustery on Saturday so our receiving game and our kicks are going to be important.”

Ivybridge are likely to have to make quite a few changes to their side due to injuries and unavailabilities.

“It has been one of those weeks,”  said Elliott. “Adam Northcott has unfortunately injured his thumb and so he is going to be out for a few weeks. We also have a couple of guys who are touch-and-go, who are going to have to have late fitness tests.

“We are likely to have quite a few changes, but I know whoever goes out there this weekend will do the shirt proud and put in a good performance.”

Ivybridge have lost experienced back Cameron Setter, who has re-joined Plymouth Albion to offer scrum-half cover.


THIRD-placed Devonport Services will be out to prove a point when they travel to North Petherton in South West One on Saturday.

Services have only won one of their three games away from home this season.

That victory came in their opening away match at Bridgwater & Albion. Since then they have narrowly come unstuck at Lydney and Crediton.

But they have a chance to improve that record when they head to Somerset to face 11th-placed North Petherton.

“Any game away is tough,” said Lewis, whose side have played double the amount of home games as away matches so far this season.  “There are no easy teams or free rides in this league.

“We know they (North Petherton) are going to be a big old unit and also play a bit of rugby, but most of all they are really resilient at home.

“They are a tough side as when they are on your line they won’t give up and when they are 20 points down they will also still try to find something. They have quite a competitive group. They always get a good turnout and have a nice little set up there. They always look after you really well.”

Lewis admits the team have not forgotten about their last away trip at Lydney, but he does not want them to dwell on it.

“You have to keep it there, but at the same time try and forget about it and start again,” he said. “It is about trying to get that balance.

“I am hoping we are focussed positively, but realistically.”

Services are set to be relatively unchanged from last week’s 42-21 home win over Newent, although centre Harrison Reburn is likely to be ruled out for the next few weeks with a shoulder injury.


PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks are relishing the prospect of four homes games in a row in the Cornwall/Devon League.

Oaks are unbeaten on their own soil and last week managed to get their first away victory of the season at Hayle to move up to sixth in the table.

They are hoping that they could be in an even better position by Christmas with this run of home fixtures, which start on Saturday against Plymouth Combination rivals Liskeard-Looe, who are still looking for their first win of the campaign.

“We have got four home games on the trot now,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor. “With our home record, if we can win our next four we could be up to third or fourth in the table.”

However, Taylor insists the team are not taking a victory over Liskeard for granted.

“You never know in this league,” said Taylor. “You would hope we could get a win, but you never know. It is all about availability. We seem to have lads that can play one week but not the other.”

Tavistock will be looking for a valuable home win over Cullompton tomorrow to start moving back up the table.

After a really start to the season, Tavistock have been hit by a load of injuries and they have struggled for consistency and are down in 10th position.

Their opponents on Saturday, Cullompton have also been a bit up and down but they are up to fourth in the standings and have shown on their day that they can claim big wins.

Tavistock are boosted by the return of a number of key players, including half-backs George Hillson and Jack Easton. Those two have not played together since the opening day of the season.

They also have centre Andrew Craddock and forwards Seb Cox and Andrew Schuttkacker available again.

“It looks like we may have turned a corner finally with several returnees from injuries,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.

“Hopefully, with more consistency around selection and availabilities we can move upwards.”

He added: “Cully have been in good form and we have to be aware of the threats, but things have turned for us and this week will give us an idea of what we can aim for from the rest of the season.

“The weather may play a big part, though, with Baltic conditions and high winds, so it may come down to who handles that the best.”

Saltash will also be hoping to make home advantage tell this weekend when they host fellow strugglers Hayle.

The Ashes have only won one match this season – an impressive 43-17 home victory over Torquay Athletic.

But, like many of the other teams in the league, they have struggled to get a consistent side out and have paid the price for that.

They are set to be relatively strong this weekend and are able to welcome back a few players, including key forward Devon Bennett-Murray, who is set to start at number eight.


OLD Techs, Plymouth Argaum and Tamar Saracens are all at home in Devon One on Saturday.

Techs will be looking to continue their unbeaten home record when they host fourth-placed Exeter Saracens at Weston Mills.

The Old Boys suffered a 38-12 defeat at Exeter Athletic last Saturday with a makeshift team but hope to be stronger this week.

“We went up to Exeter last week with 16 players and had to play people out of position,” said coach Shaun Bedford-Smith. “We had a flanker on the wing, a flanker at centre, a prop at flanker, somebody who had never played scrum-half before and so on. And in that first 15 or 20 minutes as people were getting used to positions, Exeter scored three tries but then we got back into it.

“We got it back to 19-12 and had a line-out on their line but messed it up and they went up the end and scored to go 27-12 up. That was a key moment.

“But I couldn’t fault the players that went up there.

“We have got a few back this week, although we are missing a few who did play last week.”

Among those who are set to return are James Douglas, Ben Hockey, Lewis Harvey, Dave Clack and Peni Turua, but Matt Simmonds, Dan Pullen, Phil Ingleson and Danny Bond are among those likely to be missing.

“I think we have got 14 unavailable but we still will be putting out a strong side, but, as I keep saying every week, it would just be nice to have everyone available for once.

“We have not lost at home and we do want to keep that record going and get another win.

“We don’t know a lot about Exeter Saracens but I know they are doing well so it is not going to be an easy game.”

Exeter Saracens beat an under-strength OPM side 39-17 last weekend. OPM are without a match this Saturday.

Plymouth Argaum have won two games on the trot for the first time since they returned to Devon One in 2019.

Coach Brett Stroud wants his team to try and make it three in a row, but standing in their way with be Exeter Athletic, who only have two defeats to their name – and one of those was when they had to forfeit their match to OPM due to player availablility.

Argaum have been boosted by the re-signing of Jake Turfrey, who goes straight into their team.

“Jake has re-signed from Plymstock Albion Oaks so he will be looking to play on Saturday,” said coach Stroud. “He will also be helping out with the backs coaching. He is a useful player.

“We have also signed Preston Wilkins, a young lad who is a winger. He looks like he could be very useful as he is really quick, but he’s only 17 and three-quarters so can’t play until after Christmas. But he is so quick that I think he is one of those who will get on the scene quickly and get a few tries early on.”

Tamar Saracens will be hoping to move up the table between now and Christmas with some fixtures against teams below them.

They start those this Saturday with a home game against Torrington before a visit to Buckfastleigh and then a home fixture against Dartmouth.

“We have Torrington at home, but you saw their result against South Molton so if they turn up strong then it is going to be another tricky game,” said Sarries’ Pete Lethbridge. “Although I don’t know how well they travel.

“We have four games between now and Christmas and we are hoping to get maximum points, at least out of the next three of them.

“But we just take one game at a time so we just have to concentrate on trying to beat Torrington at home.”

In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria are due to play the Plymouth Medics, while Plymouth Fijians are due to visit OPM Jesters.

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