IVYBRIDGE have opened up a six-point gap between themselves and eighth-placed Bournemouth after beating the Dorset club 34-29 in an entertaining South West Premier match at Cross-in-Hand.
The Bridgers had stormed into a 21-0 lead after just 15 minutes, but Bournemouth came back and were leading 26-21 early in the second half before the hosts dug deep to go 34-26 ahead.
However, Bournemouth kicked a late penalty and then had one more chance to try and snatch victory, but Ivybridge were able to hang on for the full five points.
“I’m sure for the neutral it was a cracker, but for us it was a little bit nerve-wracking at times,” admitted Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony.
“We had a really positive start and we went 21-0 up
“We started really well. We adjusted our game slightly as we had an idea what the conditions would be like, but we stuck to our game-plan and really started how we wanted to start. We had good pace on to the ball and our structures went well.
“But we seem to like to make things a little bit difficult for ourselves.
“And, fair play to Bournemouth, they are a cracking team and they really came back at us and were a real threat with their power-game. They utilised their big forwards well and they were quite difficult to stop.
“But it was frustrating that we allowed them back into the game.
“Half-time came at the right time and we managed to re-set and discuss a few things that we needed to put right.
“The game still went down to the wire, but luckily we came out on the right side of the scoreboard. And the reason for that, was the work of the guys and their desire to defend for long periods and for quick thinking to take our chances. Credit where credit is due, the guys really put in a big a performance at home, which was pleasing.
“It was a tense game, but I’m sure it was good for the neutral.”
Ivybridge got the perfect start with captain Jay Geraty scoring from a driving maul after just two minutes.
Then two tries in the space of two minutes appeared to put them totally in control. First, Sam Brown went over after a good break from his centre partner Charlie Briant, and then Ben Watts scored to make it 21-0.
But Bournemouth then hit back with three tries of their own before the break courtesy of Ash Taylor, Ben Meaden and Mike Pope to leave them just two points behind.
Seven minutes into the second half, the visitors went in front with a try by Jack Hemming, but Ivybridge responded well. Harrison Legge scored in the corner to level the match before Brown kicked a penalty to make it 29-26.
The hosts then had to defend hard but in the closing stages Watts scored an interception try to put his side eight points ahead with just a couple of minutes to go.
But Bournemouth used their big forwards well and got another penalty that they kicked and the referee decided there was still time for one more play. Ivybridge, though, defended well and forced their visitors into knocking on.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST
DEVONPORT Services secured a much-needed 10-5 away victory at Keynsham on Saturday to boost their title hopes.
Services had failed to get a win in their previous three away trips and had dropped to fifth the previous week after drawing with Wellington.
Although they stay in fifth, their victory at in-form Keynsham coupled with Chew Valley’s loss at Newent means Services are just five points behind the leaders.
They could strengthen their title claims further if they could beat third-placed Lydney at home in their next match in a fortnight’s time.
“It was good a win,” said Services’ Richard West, who had to watch from the sidelines after picking up a red card the previous week. “The lads were happy, but it was a rubbish game.
“It was really windy and we didn’t play on their first team pitch instead we were moved to a back pitch which was small.
“We knew we had to win to stay in it and next we have Lydney at home in two weeks, which will be a big game.”
Keynsham had been one of the league’s in-form sides. They had won six of their previous seven games, including beating St Austell and Chew Valley.
And the hosts were leading 5-0 at half-time after scoring a try out wide after just five minutes, but in the second half Devonport had the wind advantage and they camped in Keynsham’s half and were rewarded with close-range tries from fit-again Liam Jarvis and Sam Bennett.
Mike Rickard once again impressed for Devonport and picked up the man of the match award, while Tom West came in after a lengthy injury to stand in at fly-half.
FIFTH-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks closed the gap on fourth-placed Bude by beating the north Cornish club 24-14 at Horsham Fields on Saturday.
Bude have been one of Oaks’ bogey teams over the years. Plymstock had never managed one single win over them since coming into the Cornwall/Devon League in 2015.
But they finally put that record straight on Saturday with a determined display in windy conditions.
“We have finally defeated the Bude curse and I’m buzzing about that,” said Oaks’ player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“It just shows when we turn up and have a half-decent mentality, we can beat anyone in this league, especially at home. We put in a real good shift.”
Oaks played down the slope and with the wind first half and were a bit frustrated to only be 14-7 ahead, but in the end it was enough.
“I didn’t think they (Bude) played the slope very well and we probably had the best back three we have been able to put out this season with Corey back there instead of in the centre,” said Taylor. “I felt like we coped with their kicking game really well in the second half.”
Bude are still nine points ahead of Oaks in the table, but Taylor feels they should be using them as a target for their remaining games.
“We have closed the gap and it is chaseable,” he said. “And that has to be our target.”
Taylor put his side ahead in the 10th minute after Oaks pressed from a line-out.
But Bude pulled level when Cornwall winger Kyle Speare scored a stunning length-of-the-field converted try down the left.
Six minutes before half-time, Oaks finally got a second try when powerful number eight Ryan McKibbin picked the ball up from the base of a scrum and ran in from 25 metres to score. Pete Keanie added the conversion to make it 14-7.
Despite playing uphill, Oaks started the second half strongly and should have scored in the opening minute, but they somehow dropped the ball right on the try line.
That miss looked like it was going to be costly when Speare scored a second try to level the scores again.
But the sides were not level for long as less than four minutes later Corey Jamieson powered over near the posts after Oaks had come close with a driving maul on the right.
Plymstock continued to have the better of the physical exchanges and they wasted two more good chances to score tries.
Bude had their fly-half sin-binned and eventually Oaks decided to take a kickable penalty to give them some breathing space with 10 minutes to go.
It proved a wise decision and they were able to keep Bude out in the closing stages to even deny them even a bonus point.
Tavistock stay in sixth spot after they hammered Torquay Athletic 57-10 at Sandy Park on Saturday.
It was the perfect way to bounce back from their heavy defeat to title-chasing Topsham the week before.
“It was a good win, but it was only 19-10 at half-time,” said head coach Joel Caddy.
“They (Torquay) scored in the first minute or so and then we sort of came back into the game.
“About 20 minutes into the first half it was 19-10 and I think the lads got it into their heads that we were just going to run riot and we started playing silly off-loads and trying to force it.
“We probably ended up playing rugby at the wrong end of the pitch in the second period of the first half.
“But at half-time we had a chat and we were a lot more clinical. We had the wind behind us second half.
“They had a fairly large, hefty pack and we really moved the ball about which tired them on a heavy pitch.”
Caddy added: “Even though the scoreline says we scored a lot of points, it was our defence that was probably the most pleasing.
“Apart from the first try, when they did break the line, our scramble ‘D’ was pretty good. The lads were really putting their bodies on the line.
“Our counter-attack was pretty good. I would say it was our backline’s best performance all season, especially considering the conditions.”
The match had to be played on one of Tavistock’s back pitches due to the weather but they were able to run in nine tries, with scrum-half George Hillson bagging two and Hammy Kerswill, Martin Budden, Jack Easton, Andrew Craddock, Conor Packwood, Jamie Legg and Jake Le Gassick also crossing the whitewash and Hillson adding the conversions.
Saltash’s match with Veor fell foul of the weather, while Liskeard-Looe were beaten 10-0 away at Newquay Hornets. However, both Saltash and Likseard have moved above Newquay in the table, with the RFU now indicating that Hornets have been deducted 25 points to go with the five points they had already been deducted for handed a walkover to Torquay earlier in the season.
DEVON ONE AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
PLYMOUTH Argaum continued their impressive home form, even though Storm Eunice meant they were unable to play at their Bickleigh Down ground.
Friday’s storm brought down posts on both their two pitches, meaning they had to find a new venue to host Torrington.
Plympton Victoria kindly offered them the use of St Mary’s and Argaum ran in seven tries there to beat Torrington 41-15.
“Our set-piece went really well,” said coach Brett Stroud. “Torrington put up a fight for the first 20 minutes and we started slowly, but after 20 minutes we dominated the game.”
Kallan Malone scored a hat-trick of tries for Argaum, with Tom Holliday, Al Joines, Adam Griffiths and Jamie Venner also touching down.
OPMs stay in fourth place after a hard-fought 29-17 home win over Dartmouth.
The Old Boys had to wait until the last play of the game to secure the bonus point and see off Darts’ challenge once and for all.
It was the second time this season Dartmouth had caused OPMs some difficulties.
“It was a very hard game,” said OPMs coach Rick Orkney, whose side were trailing 12-7 at half-time. “We made hard work of it again.
“They played quite well, to be honest. They have a very simple game-plan, but they did it really, really well – and we allowed them to play it, which was the frustrating thing.
“We weren’t so good without the ball this week. With the ball we were okay, but not great, but without it we were poor. We allowed them a foot-hold in the game.
“They are not a bad side. They had some good lads and some good, strong runners, but in the end we got the bonus point win.”
Lewis Harmer impressed in the forwards for OPMs and scored two tries, while scrum-half Neil Dodd had a good game in the backs.
Fred Smale got his now customary try, with Arran Stapleton given the final try. Winger Alex Jewell should have also scored but lost his bearings trying to ground the ball.
Tamar Saracens had to settle for a 6-6 draw away at much-improved Salcombe on Saturday.
Sarries were winning but the hosts were awarded a penalty deep in injury-time that they kicked to share the points.
“The ref played about nine minutes of extra-time and he gave them a penalty that they kicked to equalise in the last minute,” said Tamar Saracens’ Pete Lethbridge.
“They were happy with a draw. I was happy we didn’t lose, but we could have won it.”
Lewis Swatton had kicked two penalties in the first half to put Sarries 6-0.
But in the second half they found themselves up against it after picking up three yellow cards – two within 30 seconds of each other.
“When we went down to 13 we played really well,” said Lethbridge.
Old Techs were handed a home walkover by struggling Buckfastleigh.
In the Devon Merit Table Division Two South & West, Plymouth Fijians look on course for the title after they beat second-placed Tavistock II 41-20 at Sandy Park.
“Tavvy were really up for it and it was quite a close game,” said Mike Freeman.
“It was only 19-15 to the Fijians at half-time, but after a half-time team talk they got it right in the second half and scored four good tries.
“But it was a really good contested game, played in excellent spirit and as well refereed. Tavistock were also really good hosts.”
DHSOB suffered disappointment as they went out of the Ellis Trophy, losing 24-0 to Devonport Services III at the Rectory.
Devonport Services III are now due to play OPM Jesters, while DSHOB should face Plymstock Albion Oaks II in the Pedrick Cup semi-finals.
Plymstock Albion Oaks IIs beat OPM Jesters 51-5 in the Devon Merit Table on Saturday.
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