IVYBRIDGE will still be wondering how they did not manage to beat Devon rivals Exmouth at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in a South West Premier League and county cup double-header.
The Bridgers narrowly lost 12-11 in a stop-start game dominated by penalties and played in wet and misty conditions.
The hosts scored the only try of the match and their opponents never really threatened their try line in the whole 80 minutes, but Ivybridge still ended up on the losing side.
Exmouth were grateful to the boot of fly-half George Meadows for their win. He kicked four penalties, three impressive long-distance ones, to secure his side the four points and move them up to fourth in the table.
Ivybridge had more territory but with a much-changed team they did not have the flowing attack that they have had at times this season and Exmouth did defend well.
Matt Grieveson also did not have the luck that Meadows had from the kicking tee, missing three penalties and a difficult conversion.
Ivybridge were without their regular front-row of Matt Finn, Jay Geraty and Jon Morgan as well as the likes of Adam Northcott, Sam Furse and Damon Akerman.
But they made a good start on Saturday and were unlucky not score in the eighth minute but after pressing they eventually knocked on 10 metres out.
However, they did finally take the lead on 15 minutes when Harrison Legge went over in the right corner after Ivybridge earned a five-metre scrum after forcing Exmouth back into their own in-goal area.
But that lead was cut quickly with a penalty from Meadowns.
After more good Ivybridge pressure, they got a penalty that Grieveson put over to make it 8-5.
Meadows then kicked one from the halfway line before Grieveson missed one at the other end following a good Ivybridge scrum.
The visitors were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes a couple of minutes before half-time but with the last play of the half, Meadows kicked another penalty from around the halfway mark to give his side a 9-8 lead at the break.
He increased that advantage to 12-8 straight after the interval with a great effort from the left.
Nearly every scrum ended in a penalty for one of the teams and it did not help the game get going.
Ivybridge got one at the set play on 47 minutes but Grieveson missed the kick at goal. However, he did add three points seven minutes later to make it a one-point game again.
With 10 minutes to go, Ivybridge got another penalty in the red zone, but Grieveson could not make it tell.
And then minutes later the hosts got another penalty. This time, rather than go for the posts, they went for the corner, only to mess up the line-out. That did kind of sum up Ivybridge’s frustrating afternoon.
SOUTH WEST ONE (WEST)
DEVONPORT Services managed to come out on the right side of a tight Devon derby as they beat Sidmouth 14-9 away to move up to second in the South West One table.
However, it was hard work for them at a muddy Blackmore Field and they had to withstand some intense pressure towards the end from a Sidmouth side down to 14 men having had to go to uncontested scrums.
“It was horrendously hard,” admitted head coach Mike Lewis. “We really made it hard for ourselves for sure.
“It was a really muddy pitch and so it was never going to allow for a flowing game of rugby.”
He added: “We really had to defend hard. Every time we got the ball it was like ‘do you fancy having it back and having another go’. We didn’t do ourselves any favours in attack but at the same time we did really knuckle down in defence.
“They were probably camped on our line for 15 of the last 20 minutes of the second half. We just kept either giving away silly penalties or knocking the ball on.
“Sidmouth threw the kitchen sink at us. They did really well but our defence was probably just a bit better than their attack.”
But Services crucially got the win, despite missing a host of players, including captain Matt Gregory and centre Tom Richards.
Due to injuries, Callum Perkins, who has returned to Services from Tamar Saracens, came in for a start but he pulled his hamstring while making a good break.
Sidmouth led 3-0 at half-time, but after the interval Toby Moss and Toby Knowles scored tries for Services.
Moss’ came after a nice bit of rugby down the left, while Knowles’ was a kick over the top.
The win has moved Devonport above Chew Valley on points difference. They are both on 47 points, with St Austell the new leaders on 51 points. Lydney are not far behind in fourth on 45 points.
“Everyone is on 12 games now so it makes the table look a bit more organised and fairer,” said Lewis.
However, Services will find themselves a game behind next week as they are without a fixture. It means they will not play again until visiting Thornbury on January 8.
TAVISTOCK claimed their second big win within the space of seven days as they saw off Plymouth Combination rivals Liskeard-Looe 41-17 at Sandy Park on Saturday.
That followed on from a 53-21 victory at Hayle the previous weekend.
Although Liskeard are still looking for their first win of the season, their defence has been good and the 41 points they conceded against Tavistock was the joint highest they have let in this term, with leaders Topsham the other team to score that many against them.
The first half at Sandy Park was quite even and there was only one score in the it, with Tavistock leading 19-12.
But after the interval, Tavistock took control and the hosts ended up with seven tries.
Martin Budden got two for the home side, with Andrew Craddock, George Hillson, George Cole, Conor Packwood and Jack Lewis also touching down. Scrum-half Hillson, who has boosted Tavistock in recent weeks after returning from injury, kicked three conversions.
“The first half we lacked a bit of discipline we made some silly errors and they did come at us with hammer and tongs,” said Tavistock coach Joel Caddy.
“But second half we got better with our discipline and they may have run out of a bit of puff and we took control.
“They did score a try with the very last play of the game, but I have no complaints.
“We still have stuff we can make better, but you can’t grumble too much when you score 90-odd points in two weeks.”
Tavistock did have a tough spell where they had to play the likes of Topsham, Bude and Cullompton when they had loads of injuries.
“Previous games we had played the top four with all our injuries,” said Caddy. “We have got players back now and although we have played sides towards the bottom of the table, they haven’t just laid down and let us run riot.”
Tavistock will be hoping to end the year with three wins to their name when they travel to North Tawton next weekend.
Plymstock Albion Oaks narrowly beat North Tawton 17-15 on Saturday at Horsham Fields thanks to a last minute penalty by Ash Parsons.
Oaks were just keen to bounce back after their surprise home defeat by Newquay the previous week.
“It wasn’t the best game for us but we managed to grind out a result,” said Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“To be fair, they (North Tawton) came at us really well. I thought they were a good team. They did cause us all sorts of problems.
“We defended for the first 25 minutes and then we scored a breakaway try.
“But it’s a win – it’s four points – and we are up to fifth.”
Oaks, missing key players like Corey Jamieson and Mike Hunt, scored two tries on Saturday courtesy of full-back Dom Dodd and number eight Ryan McKibbin.
They will be back at home again next week when the entertain Withycombe.
Saltash made it three wins in a row by beating Newquay Hornets 34-17 to move out of the bottom three for the first time this season.
The Ashes basically won the game in the first half as they led 31-7 at the interval.
They played some great rugby in difficult conditions and with a slippery ball.
Forward Steve Hillman put the home side ahead after four minutes with a try converted by Kieran Down.
Newquay, who had beaten Plymstock the previous week, responded quickly with a try by Jake Kelly which Aaron Simmonds converted.
The hosts regained the lead when Joe Rider raced in from the left wing to touch down after 13 minutes for Kieran Down to convert.
The Ashes, with Lewis Woolaway and Lewis Wells impressing in the pack, were playing really well and Steve Hillman crossed for his second converted try.
And on 36 minutes Will Morton carved his way through to the line to score a bonus point try to give Saltash a 28-7 advantage following Down’s fourth conversion. He then kicked a penalty just at the end of the first period to make it 31-7.
After the break, Simmonds kicked a penalty for Newquay and that seems to get them going and they added a pushover try to make it 31-17.
The match was even in the second period but a Down penalty completed the scoring for Saltash.
OLD Techs suffered last-gasp heartbreak on Saturday as leaders New Cross scored in the 13th minute of injury-time to beat them 10-7.
Techs were down to 13 men at the time and New Cross, with former Brixham and Newton Abbot star Jarryd Harris making his return to rugby for them, eventually managed to score in the corner with the last play to snatch the four points.
“We were really unlucky,” said Techs chairman David Evans. “We had 15 minutes of extra-time and we were 7-5 up, but the referee played and played and they scored with the last play of the game while we were down to 13 men.
“It was really frustrating as we should have won, but didn’t.”
Techs, who went into the game unbeaten at home, led 7-0 at the break thanks to a try by recent signing Joe Schoner, which Tom Ryan converted.
Ryan kicked a penalty to make it 10-0 but in the 65th minute New Cross pulled a try back before they snatched victory at the death.
Techs forward James Douglas was shown two yellow cards and so was sent off while fellow forward Rudi Baker was also shown a red card late on by the referee.
OPMs’ home game with Totnes had to be postponed due to a lack of a referee, while Tamar Saracens were handed a walkover by Dartmouth.
Tamar Saracens did arrange to find a game against Saltash II to have a much-needed run out before visiting Exeter Saracens next week.
Sarries won the fixture at Ernesettle 45-0.
“It was a good run-out for the boys,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge. “We got a few things ironed out. A few guys played in different positions, which is good. It was a good blow-out before next week.
“To be fair to Saltash, they have got a good little team there.”
Devon Merit Table side Plymouth Fijians also managed to find a game as they visited St Columba & Torpoint in a friendly.
The Saints had done a good job of securing players to find a team with players from Plympton Victoria, University of Plymouth and OPMs helping out to get a game played.
The Fijians were too strong in the first half and led 48-5 but the sides agreed to change things around at half-time to try and make it more even. The visitors did score another 24 points after the break but it was more even and players did get a game of rugby under their belt.
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