IVYBRIDGE made a disappointing start to 2022 as they were beaten 33-12 away at Devon rivals Okehampton.
The Bridgers had been 12-3 up after 21 minutes at the Showground and led 12-9 at half-time, but Okehampton made the most of the slope second half to come from behind and claim the four points.
“It was disappointing,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “We made a really good start, which was really positive, but a little bit of ill-discipline allowed Okehampton some penalties that they managed to land which kept them in it first half.
“We were downhill first half and, although we started well, we needed to put our foot on the accelerator and that just didn’t happen for us.
“Full credit to Okehampton, they came back into the game and they played the hill very, very well and we were trapped down there for large periods of the second half and it is always very difficult to attack from your own 22.
“They made things very difficult for us and it became a very frustrating day at the office.”
It was Ivybridge’s fourth defeat in a row, having lost their final three of 2021, and was also a blow to their Devon Cup hopes.
“We really targeted this game and so it was really frustrated to get nothing out of the game at all,” added Tripcony.
Dan Fogerty gave Okehampton an early lead with a penalty, but Ivybridge went in front on 17 minutes when Alex Sheridan scored from close range after a good drive had initially been stopped.
It got better for the visitors four minutes later when Marcus Prout went over from a catch-and-drive move.
But Fogerty kicked two penalties to leave his side just three behind at the break.
He then levelled the tie with another three-pointer in the 46 minute.
Tries by Joe Mawle and Tom White mid-way through the half put Okehampton in control and they made sure of the win six minutes from time with a try by Brandon Horn that Fogerty converted to finish the day with a 100 per cent record from the kicking tee.
There was better news for Ivybridge’s second team who beat Newton Abbot 41-20 at Cross-in-Hand in the Devon Merit Table. Their third team also beat Tospham II 27-10.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST
SECOND-placed Devonport Services suffered only their third defeat of the season as they were beaten away 36-12 by in-form Thornbury, who have now moved level on points with them and third-placed Chew Valley.
Services were without a number of players due to Covid and injury and they found themselves 28-0 down at half-time with Thornbury playing down the slope first half.
Devonport did come back after the interval with good tries by backs Tom Richards and youngster Toby Lean, but they were not able to get anything out of the contest.
Stuart Busfield said Services felt ‘pretty aggrieved’ by a number of decisions, particularly the sin-binning of fly-half Richard West early in the game, but did not want to take anything away from Thornbury.
“They play a very similar style to us,” said Busfield. “It was almost like playing ourselves, if that makes sense.
“They started off so well and scored a couple of quick tries, but in between the two tries we had Richard West sin-binned and still now no-one knows what happened.”
He added: “They had the benefit of the slope first half and so you would have expected them to go ahead, but we probably didn’t expect to go so far behind due to some silly mistakes by us.
“But the guys really rallied at half-time and made some really good strides and started to find a bit of shape. We started to get back into the game and scored a couple of really good tries.
“I genuinely believed we could come back and catch the win or at least a losing bonus point.
“But the more we came back into the game, the more decisions went against us. It was a pretty frustrating day at the office for the team.
“The guys are disappointed because they know we did not represent ourselves as we know we can, but that’s take nothing away from a strong Thornbury side, who did play a good game.
“Defensively in the three-quarters we were not as strong as we have been. We were quite fragmented but we had been forced into a number of changes but no excuses.”
The match was moved from Moorlands Lane due to a waterlogged pitch, but conditions at the alternative venue were far from ideal and made the game a bit of a lottery.
But Oaks adapted to the conditions a bit better than Saltash and their plan of kicking for territory in the second half prove decisive.
“It was terrible out there and it was hard game, but it was a good win,” said Oaks’ hooker Taylor.
“I thought we played the conditions in the first half really well and in the second half we just knew to just kick anything in our half into theirs and just try and play there and try not to drop the ball.”
He added: “It was the first game after Christmas and the conditions were terrible. When we looked at it on the day we didn’t think we would be playing so it was good that it was played and that we got the bonus point win.”
“I think we will be disappointed when we look back at that one,” he said. “The conditions weren’t great, but it was the same for both sides. Yet we didn’t capitalise and made too many simple basic errors. We kept falling out of the game due to our errors.”
The Ashes were left to rue not scoring any points early in the second half when they had a number of good chances and turned down a kick in front of the posts.
“If we had taken the points it would have put us one point ahead and it may have changed the mind-set,” said Down. “But territory and possession were key to winning the game and we just coughed up to much ball.
“We played the game so at least we have got it out of the way now, but it is a shame and I am a bit disappointed about that one. I think we could have taken that.
“I think if it had been drier it would have benefitted us a bit more.
“My biggest disappointed was not looking after the ball. We gave away too many soft turnovers and too penalties.”
Oaks took an early lead when winger Duncan Bibby scored in the corner, but Saltash hit back quickly with a good try in the left corner by Ryan Cruickshanks, which Kieran Down brilliantly converted from the touchline to put them in front.
However, a host of penalties allowed Oaks to camp in Saltash’s half and on 18 minutes Taylor got his first try of the afternoon when he scored from a quick tap penalty to make it 12-7.
Oaks were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes for a dangerous tackle and Down cut the gap to 12-10 with a penalty on 28 minutes.
The Ashes came out for the second half much better and spent the first 10 minutes in Oaks’ 22 but did not come away with anything. They did not take a kick in front of the post and then went for the corner with another penalty, only to lose the line-out.
And Oaks then got a bit of good fortune when full-back Cruickshanks slipped in the mud trying to gather a kick forward and Reegan Spencer got ahead of him and won the race to the ball in the in-goal area. The Oaks player looked like he had knocked the ball on trying to ground it but the referee awarded the try at a crucial point in the game.
That made it 19-10 to the visitors and three minutes later Taylor scored his second after peeling off a maul from a line-out, won from a 50:22 kick, and breaking down the wing to score in the left corner.
That left Saltash with a lot to do. Exciting youngster Andrew Walsh scored the try of the game in the 69th minute with a fine long-range run down the left, but it was not enough to get the hosts anything out of the match.
Meanwhile, Tavistock were unable to stop in-form Pirates Amateurs from picking up another bonus point win.
The Cornish club triumphed 31-0 in horrible conditions at Sandy Park on Saturday.
In an error-ridden game, the Pirates led 17-0 at the break having played with the wind and the rain in the opening 40 minutes.
They got two tries in the opening five minutes but then had to wait until the last five minutes of the half to get their third.
Tavistock felt they should have had a penalty try in the second half but it wasn’t given and the Pirates were able to add to their tally to take five points back across the Tamar.
“They were deserved winners,” said Tavistock’s Hammy Kerswill. “Second half we felt we should have had a penalty try from a scrum, but it would not have changed the game.
“They were far more cohesive on the whole.”
A makeshift OPMs side were beaten 19-17 by a rejuvenated Salcombe outfit at King George V Playing Fields.
The visitors had pulled off a bit of a coup by persuading former Plymouth Albion and Sale fly-half Dan Mugford to play for them. He started on the bench with his former Albion team-mate Eoghan Grace, who is coach of Salcombe, lining up at centre.
OPMs were missing a host of key players, including top scorer Sammy Matts and top try scorer Fred Smale, while their head coach Rick Orkney had to miss the match with Covid.
There was a rare start for OPMs’ chairman Matt Glastonbury, who formed a new-look second-row partnership with Ashley Smith, making his first league appearance.
Salcombe went ahead with a try in the ninth minute by Mark Parnowski, but OPMs hit back with a pick-and-go touch-down from captain Billy Garratt.
The visitors, though, went 12-5 up at the break with Jon Squire scoring a converted try.
Squire got a second after the interval to put his side 19-5 ahead.
Neil Dodd then scored for the hosts before OPMs were awarded a penalty try.
“It was horrible conditions to play in and it became a bit of a dog-fight with the forwards – lots of scrums and line-outs,” said OPMs captain Garratt.
“We spent the last 15 minutes in their half but we made wrong decisions and we couldn’t convert all the pressure into points.
“It was a frustrating day.
“I probably made wrong decisions at wrong times – I will hold my hands up to that – but overall we just didn’t get on top of the game like we should have. It was a bit of an off-day.
“I think the amount of injuries we have has made an impact. The injuries have knocked us back a bit but we just have to try and work with what we have got. We just have to keep it positive and take it game by game.”
He added: “They (Salcombe) have obviously got some players back and have got some decent numbers now having gone from hardly been able to get a team out, which is good to see.”
The match between Plymouth Argaum and Old Techs was postponed late on due to Covid problems in the Techs’ camp, while Tamar Saracens were without a match.
Plympton Victoria’s Devon Merit Table clash with Tavistock II was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
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