IVYBRIDGE were not able to cause a shock and beat joint leaders Exeter University away on Saturday in the South West Premier, but they did at least return with a bonus point for scoring four tries in a 46-24 defeat.
The Bridgers had to make the trip to Topsham without a number of key players, including Charlie Briant, Cameron Setter, Adam Northcott, Sam Furse, George Wilson and Marcus Prout.
And they did make Exeter work hard for the win, but the students, who are unbeaten at home, took their chances well.
“We got four tries so we’ll take a point, I guess,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “It’s not ideal but it is good to always get something out of a game.
“We scored first and then they hit back and were always in the lead.
“But we came back fairly well and I think we were within a few points towards the end of the first half, but they managed to get a try just before half-time, which was frustrating and not good timing for us.
“Then straight after half-time they got two quick scores and then they became a bit out of reach.
“They are top of the league and they certainly showed why against us. They were very clinical on a boggy pitch. Hats off to Exeter they played very well.
“We have to come in this week and train well and hard and prepare for another Devon derby (against Exmouth) at home.”
The Bridgers did hand league debuts to Adam Walker in the second-row and Sam Brown at centre. Both played junior rugby for the club before going away and then returning.
“We had a couple of debutants which is really positive,” said Tripcony. “It was quite a tough one for them to come in for but they did well and will have gained some good experience.”
Brown marked his debut with a try to go with touch-downs from fellow backs Damon Akerman (2) and George de Mendonca.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST
JOE McKINLEY scored an impressive five tries as third-placed Devonport Services closed the gap on the top two with a 69-17 win over bottom side Old Patesians at the Rectory on Saturday.
McKinley came in for his first start of the season to help Services out with their back resources stretched at the moment due to injuries.
And he certainly took his chance to impress at outside centre against Old Pats.
“It was the Joe McKinley show as he scored five tries, including a hat-trick in about nine minutes,” said Services’ team manager Kieran Leach.
“It’s great that he comes in and does that.
“He played outside centre and was good. He has a hell of a step on him. Two of his tries were because he stepped someone – they are probably still getting off the floor now.”
He added: “We exploited holes in their defence and took our chances.
“We had the bonus point in the bag after 30 minutes. A couple of years ago we would switched off when we got the bonus point and let teams back in, but we showed a lot of maturity on Saturday to just carry on playing our game rather than doing Hail Mary passes and silly kicks. We just kept going.”
Services got the perfect start with young winger Matt Richards going over for a try in the opening minute after a good break by scrum-half Dylan Daley.
But after a stoppage for injury to an Old Pats player and the visitors pulled level with a try by winger Morgan Churchill.
Services then had plenty of pressure before they finally got a second try on 18 minutes. After a Rhys Williams kick to the corner, Devonport stole Old Pats’ line-out and after some quick passing across the line the ball found its way to Matt Richards, who went over for his second, which Richard West converted.
Four minutes later, the hosts bagged a third when Tom Richards pounced after Old Pats had dropped a kick to make it 19-5.
Andy Pond got the bonus point try on 30 minutes from a five-metre line-out and just before the break McKinley got his first of the afternoon to give his side a 33-5 half-time lead.
He added another straight after the interval following a five-metre scrum.
His hat-trick came almost from the restart. After Devonport had gathered the restart kick they went through a couple of phases before the ball came to McKinley on the halfway line and he side-stepped a couple of people and ran in from distance to make it 45-5.
Rhys Williams and McKinley then had a hand in making a try for Mike Rickard, who was playing at number eight in the absence of captain Matt Gregory.
Old Pats pulled a try back from a line-out through prop Joe Hart before Services replacement Sam Fincham continued his good scoring form with another touch-down to make it 57-12.
McKinley then got his fourth after good work by Joe Semple and Tom Richards and, after Old Pats had pulled one back, he fittingly completed the scoring with his fifth try with the final play of the game.
With second-placed St Austell beating leaders Chew Valley 19-6 and neither side getting a bonus point, Services are now only four points behind Chew with a game in hand and just three behind St Austell.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks lost their unbeaten home record on Saturday as they were surprisingly beaten 25-22 by Newquay Hornets at Horsham Fields.
Oaks had been in impressive form at home this season and had seen off leaders Topsham there and fourth-placed Cullompton, as well as claiming big wins over Saltash, Veor and Liskeard-Looe there.
But having been hammered 78-6 by the Pirates Amateurs the week before, Newquay turned up in determined mood and they deservedly went back across the Tamar with the four points.
Oaks could have denied them right at the death. With the referee playing almost 10 minutes of added-on time, Plymstock got one try back and then with the last play of the game were awarded a kickable penalty.
However, instead of taking the three points and settling for a draw, Oaks went for the win and opted to take a scrum. But that decision did not work out as they were penalised at the set-piece and Newquay took the penalty and kicked the ball out to end the game.
Oaks coach Mark Lenthall said: “We back the players to make the calls. They wanted the win, and I agree with that, and they have gone for it. But we’ve still come away with two points so it (a draw) wouldn’t matter much in terms of the league. I think I would have done the same thing.”
On the overall result and performance, he said: “They (Newquay) deserved it more than we did. We didn’t play very well.
“We picked up some injuries and that disrupted us a bit, but there are no excuses, they wanted it more than us and well done to them.
“The players have to learn from this. We are a young side and we keep trying to learn.
“We had more than enough opportunities to win it, but we weren’t good enough on the day.
“We are back at home the next two weeks so we just have to pick ourselves up. We will see how bad the injuries are – we did pick up a couple of nasty ones.”
Newquay, playing down the slope and with the wind first half, started well and put a lot of pressure on in the early stages, but did not get any points. The closest they came was when influential fly-half Aaron Simmonds hit the post with a penalty.
And on 23 minutes Oaks scored on their first real attack when Aiden Taylor put in a long pass for Joe Brearley to score in the right corner.
But the Hornets, who impressed in the scrum, hit back and took the lead when Matt Bosley scored on the right and Simmonds added the conversion.
And with the rain hammering down, Simmonds then kicked two penalties to edge them 13-5 ahead before Oaks closed the gap to one point in first half injury-time when prop Harvey Courtis went over from close range and Alex Chapman converted.
Plymstock started the second half fired up and had a number of chances before full-back Chapman, who had a good game, scored on the right and also added the conversion.
Newquay, though, refused to crumble and, despite playing uphill and into the elements, they regained the lead with a great try started on the right and then finished under the posts by Simmonds.
It got better for the visitors, who did defend well, when lock Aaron McPherson powered over for another good score to make it 25-17. The Hornets thought that would be enough, but the referee had decided there was 10 minutes of stoppage time to add on for Oaks to try and snatch the victory.
The hosts missed a penalty before Brearley scored his second in the right corner four minutes into injury-time after a good break by Chapman.
With their tails up, Oaks went searching for the winner. Newquay defended for their lives, but with time up they did give away a kickable penalty that could have robbed them off the victory. Yet strangely, Oaks opted for a scrum, rather than to kick it, tap it or go for the line-out and it proved the wrong decision.
Saltash secured back-to-back wins for the first time this season as they beat neighbours Liskeard-Looe 21-10 at Lux Park on Saturday.
It was also the Ashes’ first away victory of the campaign and will give them confidence ahead of a home meeting with Newquay this coming weekend.
Conditions were tough at Lux Park and the game became a typical derby match with lots of determined challenges and handling errors.
Liskeard, still looking for their first win of the season, went in front on five minutes when a kick to the corner was touched down by winger Jack Bagnell and converted by Ieaun Evans.
But Saltash hit back with some determined play and were rewarded on 20 minutes when Cornwall forward Lewis Wells, back in the team, crashed over for a try. Ryan Cruickshanks, kicking in the absence of Kieran Down, added the conversion to level the contest.
James Noel-Johnson kicked a penalty eight minutes later to put the home side 10-7 up at the interval.
Liskeard started the second half on top and Saltash had to defend hard to stop them increasing their lead.
But against the run of play, Will Morton, another experienced player back to bolster Saltash’s ranks, scored a fine try, which Lewis Stuart converted to put the visitors 14-10 ahead.
After getting in front, Saltash were determined not to let it slip and they sealed the win when Morton scored a second try, which was again converted by Stuart.
Liskeard tried everything to get something out of the match, but Saltash defended brilliantly to deny them even a bonus point.
Tavistock returned to winning ways after they beat bottom side Hayle 53-21 away.
Tavistock scored nine tries down in Cornwall, despite playing for 20 minutes with 14 players after picking up two yellow cards during the match.
“The lads did bloody well,” said head coach Joel Caddy. “It was a good win. They did what they haven’t done in recent games and were quite clinical and took chances when they were on.
“Full credit to Hayle, they brought it back to 34-21 and then we were down to 14, but we promptly scored three tries.
“It was good and fortunately we only picked up one injury this week. You don’t want any but in some games it has felt like half the team have picked them up.”
He added: “We have a target we want to get this month and this has put us well on the way.”
George Cole got a hat-trick of tries for Tavistock, while there was also two for the returning Andrew Smerdon and Conor Packwood. Scrum-half George Hillson got his customary try, while centre Jake Le Gassick scored on from 70 metres.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OPMs pulled off a massive win in Devon One by beating leaders New Cross 31-5 away.
New Cross had only lost one previous game – a defeat to Exeter Saracens – but they were not as strong as they have been in some matches this season and OPMs took full advantage to score four tries and return with a full five points.
That win keeps them in third place but they are now just one point behind leaders New Cross.
The Devon One table is incredibly tight now with just three points separating the top five sides, that includes Tamar Saracens, and Exeter Athletic and Old Techs not far behind in sixth and seventh.
Afterwards OPMs coach Rick Orkney described it as ‘a really satisfying win’.
“We had the strong wind in the first half and we played quite well and I thought we used the wind quite intelligently, but maybe we didn’t play as well as we could.
“We were not leading at half-time by as many as I would have hoped. I think it was 10-5.
“But when we turned around and played into a strong wind and driving rain we actually played really well. We just played intelligently the whole second half.
“We kept the ball fairly close and we dominated the scrum and got two pushover tries from scrums. Our front five were outstanding.”
He added: “In this league this year teams are really inconsistent with what they have got in terms of availability. I think they (New Cross) had a few boys missing whereas we had quite a good side out, even though we had a couple missing, but that’s the way this season is going to go.
“I think the teams that can consistently get most of their players playing are going to be the ones around the top half.”
Sammy Matts kicked an early penalty for OPMs before New Cross scored the game’s first try.
But the Old Boys went in at the break 10-5 up with another Matts penalty and a try by Pete Regan.
After the interval, Billy Garratt went over for a converted try from close range before Fred Smale scored one of his trademark breakaway efforts to make it 24-5.
And late on, Lewis King went over to secure the bonus point.
Tamar Saracens were left without a game for the second week running after Buckfastleigh handed them a walkover, while Plymouth Argaum, who had won their previous three games, were unable to get a side out to travel to Exeter Saracens. Old Techs were not due to play after Ilfracombe’s withdrawal before the season started.
Plymouth Fijians were also left without a game again in the Devon Merit Table. They should have been playing Plymstock Albion Oaks II at Horsham Fields, but their opponents were not able to get a side out.
“In a week where the RFU were really pushing the game-on principle we had 50 players in the area not having a game of rugby because of the lack of game-on principles,” said Mike Freeman, who is the Plymouth Combination representative on the Devon RFU committee.
“People will get fed up and take up other past times if it is not sorted.”
Freeman says clubs should be more willing to lend players to other clubs to make sure games get played.
That certainly happened at St Mary’s on Saturday in the other Devon Merit Table game that did survive where OPM II beat Plympton Victoria 41-4.
Plympton Victoria had more players than OPMs but let their opponents borrow some to make sure the game could be played.
“We let them have some players but we played poorly,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “But from our perspective rugby was the winner.”
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