IVYBRIDGE were handed a harsh lesson by South West Premier leaders Exeter University on Saturday at Cross-in-Hand.
The promotion-chasing students took full advantage of Ivybridge losing centres Charlie Briant and Sam Brown to injuries early on to run out 59-20 winners.
“It was a real tough day at the office,” admitted Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony.
“It was disappointing, but they (Exeter University) showed why they are at the top of the league. They were very, very clinical and had great pace.
“Our performance was not helped by picking up a few early injuries, especially in our midfield.
“We had to re-jig our backline quite a bit and Exeter Uni took their opportunities really well and probably exposed us in the places where we’d had to re-jig. They really showed their class.
“For us it was really disappointing that we weren’t able to get that bonus point as we really went for it, but it didn’t come unfortunately.”
Ivybridge did get three tries courtesy of Tom Scoles, Adam Northcott and Seb Musgrave. Brown converted one of the tries before he went off, with Grieveson later adding a penalty.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST
IT MIGHT not have been spectacular, but title-chasing Devonport Services did exactly what they had to do at bottom side Old Patesians on Saturday.
Injury-hit Services ran in five tries to run out 31-16 winners at the Gloucestershire club and keep the pressure on title rivals Chew Valley, St Austell and Lydney.
Leaders Chew lost to second-placed St Austell so the title race will definitely go down to the final weekend of the season, whatever happens this coming Saturday.
Chew, who are six points clear of Services and Lydney and four ahead of St Austell, only have one game left – away at fifth-placed Thornbury on April 23, while the other three title contenders all have two matches to play, with third-placed Services and second-placed St Austell meeting on the final day.
But before that, Services have to see off Devon rivals Sidmouth this coming weekend in a massive game at the Rectory. They not only need a five-point win for the league but also to have any chance of home advantage in the Devon Senior Shield final on April 16.
Services will be hoping the injuries they have suffered in the last couple of weeks are not too serious.
They travelled to Old Pats without the likes of Liam Jarvis, Matt Scott, Rikki Bentham and Harrison Reburn, while Matt Neyle, Toby Knowles and Tyler Busfield picked up knocks in Gloucestershire.
After putting 83 points on North Petherton the previous weekend, Services did not quite have it their own way in Cheltenham.
They start quite slowly and only led 17-9 at half-time. Captain Matt Gregory got them underway with a try from the base of a scrum. Prop Greg Thomas then added one from 22-metres before scrum-half Dylan Daley scored after a good break and off-load by Tom Richards.
After the interval, Daley returned the favour for Richards to score before youngster Toby Lean added a fifth for Services with the last play of the game.
“It is a difficult place to go,” said Services’ Stuart Busfield. “We had to make a number of changes to our side and they have a funny old, sloping pitch.
“The guys were a little bit frustrated about our performance in phases, although that wasn’t helped by some strange decisions, including three disallowed tries.
“But we achieved what we set out to do at the beginning of the day, which was to make sure we got a win. We did that and also got a bonus point. To take five points away from home with a pretty average display is quite pleasing.”
He added: “It was one of those days that was difficult to enjoy. We were on the wrong end of a lot of decisions and things just weren’t going our way and that could have really disrupted us, but it shows how far we have come as a team that we didn’t let it. We are a lot more level-headed now in difficult situations, which was not the case in the first quarter of the season.
“Some of what I would consider the younger players are really exhibiting some great leadership skills.
“The good news is we made a long journey to a difficult place with four or five first teamers missing and picked had a number of injuries on the day, but still got five points.
“There’s going to be a lot of work for the physio team this week, but the physio team have really stepped up the second half of the season.”
Some of the other results in the league and Devon cup did not quite go as Services would probably have liked, but Busfield insists the players are not worry about that.
“We can only do what we can do – and the boys know that,” he said. “None of the lads ask about the other scores. All the chat about other scores is from the sidelines. The lads are just focused on doing what they do and that’s all you can ask from them.”
SALTASH are really finishing the Cornwall/Devon League season in style.
The Ashes extended their unbeaten run to four games with a 84-8 hammering of south east Cornwall neighbours and Plymouth Combination rivals Liskeard-Looe.
They have now scored an incredible 189 points in just their last three games and if they can win their final two league games against Newquay and North Tawton they could finish in mid-table, having spent the rest of the season in the bottom four.
They really do seem to have clicked in the later part of the season and are running in tries for fun.
They bagged 14 on Saturday, with the returning Will Morton collecting five of them. Their backs did run riot against Liskeard, with only two of their tries coming from forwards.
The hosts were 48-3 up at half-time. Cornwall winger Morton got them off to a great start with the opening try after two minutes and they never let up after that.
Morton got three in the first half, with Danny Snook getting two and Fin Jones and Ryan Cruickshanks also crossing the whitewash.
Liskeard’s only first half points came from an Andrew Gregg penalty.
And Saltash did not take their foot of the gas after half-time. Wingers Moriarty and Morton went in for early tries before youngster Kristian Davis scored a fine effort. Kieran Down then added one before Morton and Jones added further touch-downs late on.
The Ashes may still be sat in 11th spot, but only the top four teams have scored more points than them.
Plymstock Albion Oaks moved up to fourth in the table after they beat Newquay Hornets 31-14 away on Saturday.
Aiden Taylor, Corey Jamieson, Matt Jackson, Pete Keanie and Joe Brearley scored tries for them, with Keanie also adding three conversions.
Oaks were only 14-7 up at the break, but they felt they should have had a bigger lead.
“They scored right on half-time to make it close but we were all over them but they just got a breakaway try,” said Oaks’ Aiden Taylor.
Plymstock made sure of the victory in the second half.
They had been keen to win on Saturday after Newquay had shocked them at Horsham Fields at the start of December.
And with Bude losing again, Oaks are now in the top four and are keen to try and stay there.
“We got the win, which is good, and we have gone up to fourth because Bude lost,” said Taylor.
“There are rumours going around that the top four might get promoted so we are trying to use that as a bit of motivation.”
It was a good weekend for Oaks as their second team beat DHSOB 57-19 to book their place in the Pedrick Cup final where they will take on Plympton Victoria.
Oaks’ first team are also through to the RNEC final, which will be played on the same night.
Tavistock, whose first and seconds teams also have the chance of Plymouth Combination cup glory, were without a league match at the weekend as Hayle handed them a walkover.
DEVON ONE AND CLUB MATCHES
Their win might have been even greater had the referee not ended the game 10 minutes early.
OPMs were inspired by young blood on Saturday.
Devon under-20 player Fred Smale has been impressing for the Old Boys for the last few years but he was joined in the team on Saturday by his younger brother Matt, who played fly-half, and fellow 17-year-old Aaron Trinder, who lined up at flanker.
And the young trio were all outstanding and all got their names on the scoresheet.
Their youthful enthusiasm also appeared to rub off on the rest of the team with OPMs’ backs looking very sharp.
Matt Smale kicked an early penalty for OPMs but New Cross then had the better of the next 20 minutes and Nick Halse scored a try and a conversion for them.
But Fred Smale scored an opportunist try on the right in the 23rd minutes and after that there only looked like there would be one winner.
Centre James Robinson then added a fine try down the right after a perfectly timed pass by Matt Smale, before fellow centre Pete Regan crossed on the left.
OPMs should have scored a fourth just before half-time but somehow knocked on trying to gather a kick through just five metres from the try line.
But Matt Smale, who finished the day with 10 points to his name, did kick a penalty with the last play of the half to give them a 23-7 half-time lead.
Fred Smale then bagged a second try early in the second half with a great backs move that he had started. Regan then got his second after some more good backs play.
But probably the highlight of the game came in the 66th minute when 17-year-old flanker Trinder, who had been heavily involved in the game, scored a sensation try that had all his team-mates celebrating. It was his first senior try and it was certainly one to remember.
OPMs would probably have gone on and scored more points had the game not ended early.
“I don’t really know why the referee blew up 13 minutes early,” said OPMs head coach Rick Orkney. “He said they (New Cross) were tiring and he was concerned about their injuries, but it was a bit frustrating as we could have brought our subs on a little earlier. However, it is what it is and we did play well. I was absolutely delighted.”
He added: “We didn’t have the ball for the first 20 minutes, but we defended reasonably well. We played into their hands a little bit by giving away too many penalties.
“But once we settled down and ran through our phases and got our pod structures and attacking shape in position, we drew them in, made some space and ran the ball wide very well.
“It was one of those days where everything seemed to click.
“Our handling was superb – there were very few handling errors – and we just played really well.”
Orkney was full of praise for the young lads who have come into the first team set-up in recent weeks and for the way the rest of the team have really got behind them.
Tamar Saracens had no problems seeing off a struggling Buckfastleigh side at the Parkway on Saturday.
Sarries won the match 77-3 to stay in fourth position.
Bottom side Buckfastleigh only arrived with 14 players so Sarries agreed to drop a player as well and then the match went down to 12-a-side in the second period as the visitors suffered some injuries.
“Fair play to Buckfastleigh they turned up and we got full 80-minute game,” said Pete Lethbridge.
“The good thing is we tried to play our patterns. I know we didn’t have the strongest side against us but we played our patterns and the boys played really well first half.”
Sarries were 43-3 up at half-time thanks to tries by Josh Heath, Frazer Tatchell (2), Ryan Currie, Rikki Brandham, Jordan Wilds and Joey Pook.
“It did get a bit disorganised second half as we had to drop players, but we got a game, which is the main thing.”
Pook added three more tries in the second half to finish with four for the day, while Wilds and Tatchell also added further touch-downs to go with one from Dane Waryck.
Sarries are currently without a match this coming weekend as they were due to play Dartmouth, but they are hoping to try and find a replacement fixture.
Plymouth Argaum has another tough trip to Exeter as they were beaten 83-10 by title-chasing Exeter Saracens.
Billy Stockwell and Gideon Bernades-Sherriff scored tries for the visitors, who had been well beaten the previous week at Exeter Athletic. Exeter Saracens have enjoyed their home form against Plymouth teams this season and had put 62 points on both Old Techs and Tamar Saracens. Old Techs were without a game this weekend.
In the Devon Merit Table, OPM Jesters enjoyed a 49-0 win over Plympton Victoria at King George V Playing Fields.
OPMs were boosted by a number of extra players due to their VPs day and they also had a couple of Saltash second team players, who did not have a match.
A first half hat-trick by former Plym Vic player Sam Stockdale put the Jesters on the road to victory.
Plym Vic’s main problem was restarts. They conceded three tries within three minutes at the end of the first half with the Jesters scoring straight from the kick-offs.
Plym Vic had plenty of possession but could not quite break through the Jesters’ defence. Teenage winger Coby Bryant always looked dangerous while second-row Aaron Ford had a good game.
The Jesters had to wait until the 63rd minute to get another try which came courtesy of Keith Pascoe after Plym Vic had missed touch with a penalty.
But Plym Vic’s problems with restarts came back to haunt them with the Jesters adding another two quick tries from kick-offs courtesy of Alex Waller and Will Matthews.
Meanwhile, Plymouth Fijians warmed up for next weekend’s David Butt Cup semi-final with Topsham II by playing Devonport Services II at the Rectory.
The Fijians lost a thriller 41-31 but were quite happy with their display, especially as they were missing a few of their military players.
“It was a great game of rugby,” said Mike Freeman. “And it was just what the Fijians needed before next week.”
Services II scored seven tries, with the Fijians, who finished strongly, bagging five.
The visitors trailed 17-10 at half-time with Masirewa and Lopeti Faha scoring their tries.
Services had a purple patch at the start of the second period but the Fijians then turned up the heat with another try by Faha and two from Ben Turua.
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