Rugby

RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge and Services prepare for Devon derby matches

IVYBRIDGE face their second Devon derby in the space of seven days when they welcome Exmouth to Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in a joint South West Premier and Devon Cup match (2pm).

The Bridgers lost away at high-flying Exeter University last weekend but they did at least return with a bonus point.

However, they will be hoping for more than that this weekend when they entertain fifth-placed Exmouth.

Ivybridge have not lost at home in two months and they do have a decent record against Exmouth at Cross-in-Hand.

Exmouth, though, have been in good form this season. Up until three weeks ago they had only lost one match but they have since lost to fellow top five sides Exeter University, Weston-super-Mare and Hornets.

The two clubs tend to produce entertaining games. The last meeting ended in a draw while the two meetings before that both saw more than 70 points scored.

Ivybridge are hopeful of having a few more players back after missing last week’s trip to Exeter.

SOUTH WEST ONE WEST

DEVONPORT Services will be hoping to end 2021 on a high when they travel to Devon rivals Sidmouth on Saturday in a joint league and cup game.

This weekend will be Services’ last fixture of the year as next week they should have been playing Stroud, who dropped out of the league just before the season started.

“I think everyone is looking forward to a good Christmas break,” said Services head coach Mike Lewis.  “We have a party planned for Saturday evening so when we do get back off the bus it should be a good evening.

“But we are just looking forward to the game and I hope we go well.

“I think this season has flown by. It only seems like the other day we were wondering if we were going to even be playing any games this year and have a proper league, but now we are nearly at Christmas and halfway through the year.”

He added: “I think Sidmouth will be strong this weekend – they always seem to be when we go there.

“Their pitch does get a little bit boggy and with this rain we have had that could play into their hands a little.

“But away games are never easy, especially Devon games as there is that extra bit of competition.  You do expect people to raise their game a bit, especially when they are at home in front of a big crowd.”

Third-placed Services will head to Sidmouth on the back of three big wins. They have scored 153 points in their matches against Old Patesians, North Petherton and Newent.

“We are confident going into games but it is still surprising when you score a few more points than you think you are going to get,” said Lewis.

“But we have a few injuries concerns as most teams have going into this weekend.

“It is our last game before Christmas and we have a few niggles and knocks but we are managing them as best as we can. But the last thing we want to do is put someone in at the deep end and have them out until the end of January or February instead of just resting them for this weekend.

“So we do have a couple of decisions to make before we finalise the team.”

Captain Matt Gregory missed last week’s game, while second-row Matt Scott suffered a bit of a shoulder injury and centre Tom Richards suffered a dead-leg.

The last time Services went to Sidmouth the match ended in a 10-10 draw.

Sidmouth are currently 10th in the league, while Services are third and could leap-frog above current leaders Chew Valley this weekend if they could get a bonus point win as the Somerset club are not in action.

CORNWALL/DEVON LEAGUE

PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they host North Tawton at Horsham Fields.

Oaks were surprisingly beaten at home last Saturday by Newquay Hornets. That was their first league defeat on their own soil this term.

“We will be looking to try and bounce back from last week,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.

“We had a few injuries and we didn’t really recover from them, but they (Newquay) wanted it more, but hopefully we can get a response.”

Corey Jamieson, Mike Hunt and Tim Coats all had to come off in that game.

“Corey wasn’t going to be available anyway this week but it looks like he won’t be available until after Christmas with his finger,” said Taylor.

“Mike Hunt’s elbow is still not 100 per cent so he is likely to be out this weekend.

“Timmy (Coats) just got cramp in both of his calves just after half-time so he should be okay but he was a massive loss (last week).”

Oaks will not really know what to expect from North Tawton, who are another team to have been a bit inconsistent this season.  The mid-Devon side’s home form is much better than their away record, but Plymstock will be wary after last week.

“We lost to North Tawton away the last time we played them but we didn’t get to play them at home,” said Taylor.

“We are joint fifth with Torquay so we are not near the bottom or anything, but we are not where we feel as a club we should be. We are on a bit of a rebuild.

“We have got a really young team. We had two 18-year-olds playing for us last weekend. Hopefully we can bring these players on and can keep them so in a couple of years’ time we will be in a good position.”

He added: “At the moment we seem to be the in-between team and players are choosing to either go play at a higher level or a lower level.”

Tavistock will be aiming to back up their big win over Hayle last weekend with a home victory over Plymouth Combination rivals Liskeard-Looe at Sandy Park on Saturday.

Liskeard are still looking for their first win of the season but Tavistock coach Joel Caddy insists they cannot take them lightly.

“It is a derby game so it will no doubt be keenly contested,” said Caddy.

We do have a bit more consistency in selection, which is great.

“Conditions will be a tad soft underfoot and the lads will have to be pretty precise in ball presentation etc.

“It would be good to carry on where we left off last week but need to be more clinical as we left several tries on the paddock last week.”

Saltash will be targeting a third successive win when they host Newquay Hornets at Moorlands Lane.

The Ashes have seen off Hayle and Liskeard in the last two weeks to slowly start closing the gap on the mid-table teams.

Saltash are able to name one of their strongest line-ups of the season.

Kieran Down is back at fly-half after missing last week’s trip to Liskeard, while Saltash have Will Morton and Lewis Wells available for a second week running.

Meanwhile, Saltash youngsters Lewis Woolaway and Andrew Walsh are in the Cornwall Under-20 training squad, while Tom Hollyman and Ollie Crawford helped Cornwall Under-18s to a 30-20 win over Buckinghamshire last Sunday.

DEVON ONE

OLD Techs have strengthened their squad as they look to continue their unbeaten home record against league leaders New Cross.

The Weston Mill club have signed Kyle Hookway from Devonport Services and Calum Mills from Plymstock Albion Oaks.

Hookway has made three league appearances for Services in South West One this season, while Mills, whose dad used to play for Techs, has been playing in the Cornwall/Devon League for Oaks and Plymouth Argaum.

Coach Shaun Bedford-Smith says they are both good signings and that it is positive that players from a higher level want to join their club.

He also said it would be nice to see another member of the Mills family turning out for the club.

I think his dad is going to be quite pleased,” said Bedford-Smith. “They are two good signings.”

Techs have one of their strongest squads available for this week’s home clash.

We are looking pretty strong this week,” said Bedford-Smith. “We do have good availability.

“It is probably the first time we have everyone available from the last game and also have a few more back.”

But Techs are expecting a tough test against New Cross, who will be looking to bounce back from their defeat with an under-strength team to OPMs last weekend.

“They are not top of the league for no reason,” said Bedford-Smith. “We know it is going to be a hard game but it should be a good game.”

OPMs could go top if they can beat struggling Totnes at home this weekend.

The Old Boys sit third but are just one point off the top after beating New Cross away last week.

The Elburton-based club are not sure what to expect from Totnes, who have been inconsistent this season.

OPMs are hoping to have a similar squad to what they had against New Cross last week, which was much different to the one that they took to Exeter Saracens in their previous league match.

“Exeter Sarries were quite good but we went up with a real mixed side but played very well second half,” said OPMs coach Rick Orkney. “I think if we’d had the side out against them that we had against New Cross then we would have given them a good game.”

For the third week running, Tamar Saracens have been handed a walk over.

They should have been entertaining Dartmouth this weekend, but the South Hams side are not able to get a team to travel to Ernesettle. It follows walkovers by Buckfastleigh and Torrington.

However, Tamar Saracens have arranged a game against Saltash II to make sure they got some game-time before visiting Exeter Saracens next weekend.

“We need a game having not played for two weeks,” said Sarries’ director of rugby Pete Lethbridge.

Sarries started the ball rolling looking for a fixture last Saturday just in case Dartmouth did pull out and so they are delighted Saltash are going to help out.

Plymouth Argaum are not in action this week.

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