IVYBRIDGE suffered a fifth straight South West Premier defeat as they were beaten 59-33 by in-form Launceston at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
The damage was done for the Bridgers in the first half as they trailed 33-7.
The hosts, missing key players like Charlie Briant, Ben Watts, George Wilson, Jay Geraty and Adam Northcott, did make much more of a game of it in the second half and picked up a try-scoring bonus point, but the gap was too big for them to close.
“It was a very frustrating day,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “We gave ourselves too much to do and that kind of changed our mind-set slightly and we went away from our systems and tried to force things.
“It just wasn’t our day – things didn’t go our way – but, having said that, full credit to Launceston they came here and played really well. They were difficult to defend at times, but we just didn’t get control of the game.
“We scored plenty of points, but any time to ship that many points isn’t good, especially at home. We should have a bit more pride in our defence at home.”
He added: “As soon as we got a bit of momentum there was something in the game – whether we ran into touch, gave away a penalty, gave the ball away or whatever – and Launceston got away from us again. It happened every single time.
“Sometimes that is rugby, but listen, we are fully aware that we are not happy with that and we just have to rock up to training Wednesday and Thursday this week and try and put those things right.
“We did get a bit of momentum in short periods, but our work-on is to try and extend those periods and create our momentum.”
Ivybridge had wanted a good start but it did not happen with Harrison Legge picking up a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on after just four minutes and Launceston scored their first try of the afternoon a minute later when the impressive Lloyd Duke scored on the right and Dan Pearce brilliantly added the conversion.
The hosts did press when they got back to 15 men and were held up over the line in the 23rd minute, but Ivybridge lost the line-out from the resultant drop-out and Launceston went up the other end and scored. The try was given to Ryan Westren but it looked like Brandon Rowley had grounded the ball after taking a quick tap-penalty.
The Cornish All Blacks, who went into the match on the back of three impressive wins including against previously unbeaten Hornets, then scored two tries within the space of two minutes courtesy of full-back Cam Fogden and winger Shaun Crawford.
Deep in injury-time, Ivybridge pulled one back with Marcus Prout driving over from a catch-and-drive move and Sam Brown converting, but straight away they gifted Launceston another try after dropping the ball in their own 22 and Mitchell Hawken eventually scored for the visitors to give them a 26-point lead at the break.
Ivybridge got the start to the second half that they wanted with Jay Toogood and Sam Brown scoring converted tries to cut the gap to 33-21, but they couldn’t keep the pressure on and further tries by Westren and Fogden put Launceston 40-21 ahead.
The home side’s bad day continued with Toogood picking up what looked like a rib injury and having to go off, but Cam Setter, back from Plymouth Albion, did manage to get Ivybridge an important fourth try in the 69th minute.
Westren was yellow carded for the visitors but they still increased their lead with a touch down from number eight Rowley from a catch-and-drive move.
Dan Goldsmith was then yellow carded and Ivybridge were awarded a penalty try to make it 52-33.
But the final word went to Launceston and the impressive Pearce, who showed the speed he had displayed on the track for City of Plymouth AC in the summer, by bursting down the wing and running in under the posts. Pearce had also impressed with the boot, kicking seven conversions, to finish the day with 19 points.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST
DEVONPORT Services moved to the top of the South West One West table after beating Bridgwater & Albion 45-13 at the Rectory.
Services took advantage of St Austell’s slip up at Newent to replace them at the summit.
St Austell actually dropped down to fourth behind Thornbury and Chew Valley with just one point now separating the top four sides.
Devonport out-scored Bridgwater by seven tries to one, with Richard West and Sam Bennett both bagging two apiece and Toby Knowles, Tyler Busfield and Chey Bryce also touching down, but head coach Mike Lewis did not feel his team played that well.
“The first 10 minutes we were phenomenal and the last 15 minutes we were fantastic but in between it was a stalemate with a series of mistakes and penalties from both teams,” said Lewis.
“We scored 19 points in the first 10 minutes, including two really fantastic tries, and scored the rest of our points in the last 15 minutes.
“But when you win when you play poorly, it’s not a bad result.”
He added: “I think they only scored one try against us but it was 19-13 at one point in the second half.
“With 20 minutes to go we had the choice between a shot at goal or kick to the corner. We went for the corner and scored from the maul and that just created that momentum shift with 10 or 15 minutes to go. We then scored quite a few points.”
Services, who were again missing a host of players, know the top of the table could all turn around again next week with them visiting Chew Valley and Thornbury playing fifth-placed Lydney.
A LAST-GASP try by teenage replacement Duncan Bibby secured Plymstock Albion Oaks a narrow 37-34 derby win over Tavistock at Horsham Fields on Saturday.
Oaks, who had Andy Porter bagging a hat-trick of tries, were trailing 34-32 with time up but they managed to get an overlap and Bibby dummied and scored with the last play to secure his team the full five points in a derby match that really came to live in the final 10 minutes.
“The last 10 minutes were mental and we managed to snatch it at the end,” said Oaks player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“Overall, I think we deserved it as we played the better rugby, but we made it hard for ourselves with penalties, not being clinical and bad kicks.
“And the last 10 minutes were just crazy. They scored and so we were losing, then we scored, only for them to score again before we scored again.
“But it is another five points, so happy days.”
Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy said: “It was a bit gutting to lose with the very last play of the game.
“But we were pretty good – the lads played well. It was a pretty decent game really.
“You could argue we had a lot of lads missing, but the lads that played really put in a really decent shift and they could walk off the pitch with their heads held high as they worked their socks off.”
He added: “The score went back and forth during the match. They went out front early on but we clawed it back, then they got back in front and then it just to-and-fro.
“At the end they just managed to get free and had the man over. There was a bit of indecision between the last two defenders and the fellow stepped and scored.”
As well as Porter’s three tries and Bibby’s late score, Oaks also had Taylor and Corey Jamieson touching down, while, Martin Budden, Rob Grove, Jack Easton, James Lovering and Hammy Kerswill crossed the whitewash for Tavistock, who did pick up two bonus points from the short trip down the A386.
Tavistock face another derby next week when they host the unpredictable Saltash.
The Ashes are making a bit of habit of either losing big or winning big. When they do click, they really click as they did on Saturday to impressively beat Withycombe 41-17 at Moorlands Lane.
It was their fifth win of the campaign and third time they had scored more than 40 points, having also done the same to Torquay and Hayle. They also put 34 points in a win over Newquay.
After the previous week’s frustration against Plymstock, Saltash produced some of their best rugby of the season against Withycombe, especially in the first half as they stormed into a 34-7 lead.
Kieran Down opened their account after five minutes with a penalty and Joe Rider quickly increased the lead with a try after 10 minutes which was converted.
A kick across the pitch enabled Jay Moriarty to touch down on the left wing to put Saltash 15-0 up.
Joe Rider got his second try seven minutes later following some good interplay and again Kieran Down added the extra points.
The Ashes were really flowing at this point and Ryan Cruickshanks scored another home try after 32 minutes which was followed three minutes later with their fifth try from Moriarty.
Just before the interval Saltash were reduced to 14 players after a yellow card and Withycombe took advantage by scoring a converted try through George Doughty with the final act of the half.
Withycombe, who had scored a last-gasp try to narrowly beat Saltash at their place, started the second half strongly and put the Ashes under pressure and took the opportunity to cross the line in the corner after 48 minutes courtesy of Mike Richards.
The game became more evenly contested as the visiting pack looked strong but the Ashes held out with some good defensive work and after 50 minutes Kieran Down crossed under the posts for another try which he converted.
Withycombe completed the scoring with another Richards try 12 minutes before the end but it was not enough to secure them anything from their trip across the Tamar.
Liskeard-Looe are still looking for that elusive win after going down 31-12 at home to third-placed Bude.
PLYMOUTH Argaum were left looking through their record books after trouncing Totnes 102-0 at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.
Wins have been in short supply in recent years, especially big ones, but things are definitely looking up again for the Roborough-based club.
They ran in 16 ties on Saturday, with Jake Turfrey bagging four, Tom Holliday three, Dan Smith two and Kallan Malone, Tom Shepherd, Chris Perkins, Isaac Honey, Tom Holliday, Gideon Berends and young debutant Preston Wilkins also touched down.
“I think it is the biggest win this season in the league so I am over the moon,” said Argaum coach Brett Stroud.
“This is the team I was going to play against Techs last week. Hopefully, in 2022 the boys are buying into what we are doing as if we can keep this team we will be laughing. Hopefully now the boys can see what we can do with a full team.”
He added: “Totnes had a few of their regulars but, to be fair, they were a different side to when we played them at their place earlier this season, but they were quite dogged.
“They started off well, but we just really got into it.
“Chris Perkins at nine and Billy Stockwell at 10 have a really good understanding.
“We had really good control from nine and 10 and the pack was really good. The back-row played really well and our set-piece was really good.
“Jake Turfrey got man of the match – some of his carriers were ridiculous, he was just punching holes left, right and centre.
“We played at a high tempo and they couldn’t really stay with us.”
But there was disappointment for the other Plymouth Combination sides in Devon One at the weekend.
OPMs narrowly lost 24-20 at home to high-flying South Molton.
“I felt like I had been punched in the stomach at the end,” admitted OPMs head coach Rick Orkney.
The Old Boys had gone 10-0 down but hit back with a try by Pete Regan, which Fred Smale brilliantly converted.
Smale, who has been named in Devon’s under-20 squad, was kicking in the absence of Sammy Matts and he added a long-range penalty not long later to level the match.
The impressive young full-back then put OPMs ahead with an opportunist kick-and-chase try.
South Molton hit back and led 17-15, but with nine minutes to go the impressive Smale scored a second try to put his side 20-17 up.
“All we needed to do then was manage the game, go through the phases and see the game out, but we didn’t do it,” said Orkney.
“We spilled possession and they simply attacked and we dropped off a tackle and they scored in the corner.
“They were winning 24-20 with five minutes to go. Then we pressed and pressed and pressed.
“We got a penalty and kicked for the corner and caught and drove. We were over the line but got held up. James Mitchell is adamant that he actually got the ball to the ground but who knows as no-one could see it underneath everyone. They got the goal-line drop-out which they kicked straight off the pitch and the final whistle went.
“We were so, so close – just a matter of inches.”
He added: “South Molton are a good side. They have a very young and quick set of backs. Their outside centre and full-back were outstanding and their wingers were good and the fly-half was tidy.
“They were good, but we matched them.
“It was not a game we should have won but one we could have won, had we managed the last nine minutes better.”
Old Techs also suffered late agony as they were beaten 10-8 at home by Salcombe, who were awarded a controversial penalty with the last play of the game to win the contest.
Techs had gone 8-0 up in the first half at Weston Mill with Derek Ingleson scoring a try and Tom Ryan kicking a penalty.
The hosts had a try disallowed that would have increased their lead before Salcombe were then awarded a penalty try to cut the gap to one point.
Then with the last play Salcombe got a line-out that Techs felt was not straight, but the referee said the home side’s backs were off-side and gave Salcombe a penalty, which was then moved forward 10 metres allowing the visitors to go for goal and win the match.
“They (Salcombe) are not a bad side and they have really improved, but we hould have put the game to bed, but we didn’t,” said chairman David Evans.
“If we get played off the park I would always put my hands up and say we were beaten by a better team, but I thought we were the better team but they got the rub of the green.”
Calum Mills did finally make his debut for Techs, following in the footsteps of his dad.
“I thought our back-row was outstanding,” said Evans. “We had a decent side out and we should have been miles clear.”
There was also disappointment for Tamar Saracens who were beaten 47-14 away by second-placed New Cross.
“We went with just 17 players after a couple of late drop-outs,” said Pete Lethbridge.
“We started off well but then gave away a couple of silly tries and suddenly it was 28-0 by half-time.
“The game had got away from us – we weren’t playing to any structure or patterns. Scrummaging was good, but we only had one jumper in the line-out who we weren’t hitting all the time.
“Second half, I just said let’s go out and get some pride back and the first five to 10 minutes of the second half we really took it to them.”
Davy McGregor pulled a try back, which Lewis Swatton converted, and they were also awarded a penalty try but that was as good as it got for them.
“We just ran out of legs with injuries and people playing out of position, but those are excuses we can do all the time,” said Lethbridge.
“The game has gone now and we just have to lick out wounds again and look to next week and OPMs.
“We have now only got two away games left – Techs and Salcombe – the rest of our games are at home and if we can’t get a full squad next week (against OPMs) then there is something wrong.”
Meanwhile, a Barbarians-type team made up of Plymouth Fijian, Saltash and Plympton Victoria players were beaten 48-12 by a strong Wadebridge side in a match where everyone got game-time.
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