IVYBRIDGE will be hoping to put the frustration of narrowly losing to Exmouth last weekend behind them when they host Weston-super-Mare at Cross-in-Hand in their final match of 2021.
The Bridgers dominated last week’s Devon derby but were beaten 12-11 after Exmouth fly-half George Meadows kicked four long-range penalties.
The visitors never got close to scoring a try, but Ivybridge were not able to capitalise on all the territory they had.
“We completely dominated the game so it was frustrating,” said Ivybridge head coach Gareth Elliott. “But it was a good effort by us to be fair with quite a few changes.
“We had a very young front-row and the positive was we came out on top in the scrums over the 80 minutes.
“I think we are in a good place as a club. It is a competitive league and we probably just need to find a way of winning some of these tighter games as we have had quite a few losing bonus points now.”
The Bridgers are expecting a tough test from Weston who are in the top five and have been boosted by a couple of Bristol players in recent weeks.
“They (Weston) are pretty good and are near the top,” said Elliott.
“But I am pretty confident we will play well and it would be nice to have a good game just before Christmas.
“We are looking forward to it and we should have a couple of guys back.”
Sam Brown should return, while hooker Jay Geraty could be back if he comes through a late fitness test.
Devonport Services are without a match this weekend in South West One.
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be aiming to cement their position in fifth place in the Cornwall/Devon League when they host Withycombe at Horsham Field in their final match of the year.
Oaks have slowly been moving up the table, winning four of their last five games and picking up two bonus points in the match they didn’t win.
Although the gap between them and fourth-placed Cullompton is too big to close this week they will keep ahead of sixth-placed Torquay if they beat Withycombe.
However, Withycombe are likely to provide a tough challenge. The Exmouth-based club have won three of their last four games, only losing away at high-flying Pirates Amateurs, and they did draw with Oaks in the second match of the season.
“They (Withycombe) look like they have really turned it around from what I can see,” said Oaks’ player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“We played them in one of the first games of the season and that day they were quite poor and we came away thinking we should have beaten them.
“Hopefully, we can get a few players back for the game.
“We just have to keep trying to enjoy our rugby at the moment.”
Tavistock will also be playing a team they drew with in the second match of the season when they visit North Tawton.
The sides drew 26-26 in September at Sandy Park in a thrilling contest that went right down to the wire.
Just two places and four points separate the teams in the table, with Tavistock in seventh spot and North Tawton in ninth.
Tavistock, though, will make the trip over Dartmoor in good form having beaten Liskeard-Looe 41-17 last week and put 53 points on Hayle the week before.
Saltash moved out of the bottom three last week after overcoming Newquay Hornets at home to make it three wins out of three.
However, their recent good form will be thoroughly tested on Saturday when they visit Mennaye Field to take on title-chasing Pirates Amateurs.
The Pirates sit in second spot, just two points behind leaders Topsham. The Penzance-based club are also unbeaten at home this season with seven wins out of seven at the ground they share with the Cornish Pirates.
Saltash have to change a third of their team for the trip west. Will Morton, Lewis Wells, Ryan Simmons, Steve Hillman and Joe Ronayne drop out of last week’s team, but they do have Devon Murray-Bennett available again, while Fin Jones, MaxDennison, Devon Marshall and Simon Nance also come into the starting line-up.
Elsewhere, winless Liskeard-Looe will be hoping to surprise out-of-form Torquay Athletic at Lux Park on Saturday.
OPMs and Plymouth Argaum are both relishing returning to action and meeting each other at King George V Playing Fields on Saturday in Devon One.
Neither side played last week – OPMs because there was no referee available for their game with Totnes and Argaum as they were without a fixture.
Argaum have not actually played since beating Exeter Athletic 36-10 at the end of November as they were unable to get a side out to visit Exeter Saracens in their only other December fixture.
However, coach Brett Stroud says they will have a team available this weekend for the derby match.
“We have got a team, but it is a bit of a mixed bag,” said Stroud. “The only time I have been able to pick a full team was against Exeter Athletic – hence the scoreline. We did really well in that game.
“But I think this week we should have a decent pack and a quite strong backline – it is a different backline but a decent one.
“It should be a good game.”
OPMs are also expecting a good contest.
“Hopefully, we will be ready for a tough game against Argaum, who are not a bad side,” said OPMs head coach Rick Orkney. “I think it will be a good game.
“It was a tight game when we played at their place. They were the better side for most of it but the last 20 minutes we came back into the game and ran away with it a little bit. But we were up against it in a big way up there for a while.”
Tamar Saracens are expecting a tough test when they visit their Exeter namesakes on Saturday.
The teams sit third and fourth in the table and are only separated by one point.
When they met at Ernesettle in early September, Tamar Saracens narrowly triumphed 18-10.
“It is always going to be a hard game up there,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge.
Tamar have not actually played a league game since November 20 as they had been handed three walkovers in a row.
They did get some much-needed match practice last weekend when they played Saltash seconds in a friendly at the Parkway.
Meanwhile, Old Techs will be looking to bounce back from the frustration of losing deep in injury-time to leaders New Cross last weekend when they host Totnes at Weston Mill.
Techs were beaten 10-7 by New Cross last weekend after the visitors scored a controversial try with the last play of the game and when the hosts had been reduced to 13 men.
“Hopefully, we can get back to winning ways and give the guys a boost as they were a bit low after last week,” said Techs coach Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“A lot went against us on the day. Sometimes you just don’t get the rub of the green.
“But I couldn’t fault the players’ efforts. We kept New Cross out for so long even with 13 men. I thought we had just done enough to win”
He added: “It would be nice to get a win this weekend and see the year off on a high.
“But we know it won’t be easy. Totnes always seem to be able to score tries – and from anywhere – so we know it is going to be battle. We certainly can’t expect to just turn up and win as teams like Totnes really battle hard.”
In the Devon Merit Table, DHSOB are due to visit Torquay Athletic II, while Plympton Victoria are down to make the short trip to Elburton to play OPM II.