IVYBRIDGE have dropped down to ninth in the South West Premier table after suffering a disappointing 43-25 loss away at Devon rivals Exmouth on Saturday.
It was a third straight defeat for the Bridgers and also ended their faint hopes of reaching the Devon Cup final.
Ivybridge were without key players Charlie Briant, Sam Brown and Adam Northcott for Saturday’s trip to the Imperial Ground, but they took an early lead with a Matt Grieveson penalty.
However, Exmouth hit back and scored two tries to go 12-6 in front.
Grieveson kicked another penalty to reduce the gap and then Sam Furse went over for a try to edge them 13-12 ahead.
But in an exciting half, Exmouth came back with another try before Ivybridge got one of their own to leave the half-time score 22-20.
The game was still tight at 29-25 midway through the second half, but Exmouth pulled away towards the end.
Furse ended up with two tries for Ivybridge, with hooker Jay Geraty also touching down for one.
Exmouth’s tries came from Nick Headley (2), Danny Martin, Lewis Geran, Oli Cave and Jake Inglis.
Exmouth will now meet Exeter University in the Devon Cup final.
Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony said: “It was a tough day at the office, but I can’t fault the guys’ effort and attitude.
“Exmouth played well and took their chances.
“We were in the game for long periods, but ultimately Exmouth pulled away from us with 10 to go.”
However, the better news for Ivybridge is that their second team have been crowned Devon Merit Table Division One champions after Exmouth II handed them a walkover at the weekend. The Bridgers second team have not lost a league game this season.
SOUTH WEST ONE WEST
The 10-try win means they will host next weekend’s Devon Senior Shield final against Crediton at the Rectory and also means they will go into their final league game away at St Austell knowing they can still win the South West One West title.
With St Austell surprisingly losing to Crediton on Saturday, Devonport Services are now up to second in the table, just one point behind leaders Chew Valley, who have a tough away trip to Thornbury in their final match.
Services know if they could get a bonus point win at St Austell then they would definitely finish in the top two.
“We still have a game to go in the league and it’s the best feeling ever just to still be in it,” said Services’ game manager Stuart Busfield. “We also have a home cup final to look forward to.”
Busfield admitted the team were determined on Saturday not to make any mistakes against Sidmouth.
“From literally the first minute the boys turned up in the changing room, you could just tell it felt right.
“There was none of the usual happy, bouncy fun and loud music, it was all about what we needed to do and how we were going to do it.”
He added: “We had a good chat in the changing rooms before the game and we talked about how these opportunities just don’t come up very often in a rugby career – for some people they never come up – and we said to take it for what it is and enjoy it.”
Busfield also said the team were desperate to get a big bonus point win to secure a home cup final for head coach Mike Lewis, who is stepping down from his role at the end of the season.
“Before the game we also said to remember the years and the effort that Mike has put in to the club and that we needed to have a display to do all his hard work justice and give him the send off he deserves here next week,” Busfield. “We are really looking forward to that.”
Despite the scoreline, Services did not have it all their own way on Saturday. In the second half they hardly had any territory until the final 15 minutes, where they ran in five tries.
“Sidmouth were a strong team and the score does not do their attacking line justice,” said Busfield.
“But it just shows how far the guys have come with their maturity as a team that when things were starting to go slightly awry they worked out what they needed to adjust and went again. That is down to how they have grown together as a team.
“And the last four weeks our backs have been incredible and that is probably because the forwards have tightened up and have started to control games up front better, giving them the space and room to do the damage outside.”
Services got the start they wanted with two tries in the opening five minutes courtesy of Tyler Busfield and Tom Richards.
But Sidmouth hit back with a try from young scrum-half Richard Drewett, which Dan Retter converted to make it 12-7.
Richard West then kicked a penalty to give Devonport some breathing space and then they took full control to go 36-7 ahead.
They had the bonus point they needed by the 22nd minute. First, Tom Richards got his second try of the day after a good break following a line-out and then West scored a fine try under the posts after a great run by Rhys Williams earlier in the move.
Young winger Matt Richards then added a fifth try in the 29th minutes after Services had pushed Sidmouth off a scrum in their own half. West brilliantly converted to put his side 29 points clear.
But Sidmouth, who struggled in the scrums, did cut the gap before the break with a try by Dan Armstrong from a maul.
And Sidmouth started the second half far better than Devonport. They dominated the opening 20 minutes of the second period and deservedly got a third try from Ethan Mead to make it 36-19.
Services could not get any territory but finally when they did Sidmouth had Retter yellow carded for stopping them illegally and Tom Richards took instant advantage of the extra man to score his third try of the afternoon after Devonport had opted for a scrum from the penalty.
That try opened the floodgates and Services added four more before full-time.
Forward Matt Scott got the next one from a line-out move before lively full-back Williams got the try he deserved.
Centre Harrison Reburn then got in on the act, before the final word went to impressive scrum-half Dylan Daley, who capped a fine game with a great 30-metre try from a scrum.
FOURTH-placed Plymstock Albion Oaks survived a late scare away at North Tawton in the Cornwall/Devon League.
Oaks looked to be comfortably on their way to a fourth successive win when they went 32-18 up at Taw Meadow thanks to tries by Aiden Taylor (2), Corey Jamieson, Harvey Courtis and Luke Austin.
But the hosts came back and could have won the fixture with the last kick of the game.
North Tawton scored a try with the final play to make it 32-31 with the conversion to come. But fortunately for Oaks, the hosts missed the kick.
“It was a close game towards the end,” admitted Oaks’ Taylor. “They came back and we made it hard work for ourselves.
“They scored with the last play of the game and had the conversion to win it and missed. It was out the right hand side of the post so it was quite tough but there was a lot of pressure.
“It was a bit nerve-wracking and hard work.”
He added: “They (North Tawton) are a good side. We had a lot of people missing but the lads that came in really stepped up and played really well.”
Oaks suffered a number of injuries at Taw Meadow and centre Alex Broughton ended up at prop.
They now have a battle to recover in time to get two squads out for two Plymouth Combination cup finals on Wednesday night at the Rectory.
Their first team will play Devonport Services II in the RNEC Cup final, while their second team will face Plympton Victoria in the Pedrick Cup final.
Tavistock guaranteed themselves a top six finish as they beat Liskeard-Looe 54-10 away at Lux Park on Saturday, with scrum-half George Hillson bagging an impressive 29 points.
“I think that’s pretty good,” said head coach Joel Caddy, on his team’s league position. “I don’t reckon there would have been too many people would have said that Tavvy would make the top six based on the last several seasons were the club have been fighting relegation.”
Tavistock will look back and think they might have done even better this season had it not been for key injuries midway through the campaign.
They could also still end an encouraging campaign with some silverware as both their first and second teams are still in the Plymouth Combination cups. Their firsts will play OPMs next weekend for a place in the Lockie Cup final, while their seconds are already in the Ellis Trophy final.
On Saturday, they did the main damage in the second half.
They were only 19-5 ahead at the break with tries by Mark Tween, Jack Osborne and Jack Easton, with George Hillson kicking two conversions.
But late in the game they ran away with it. Scrum-half Hillson bagged a second half hat-trick to go with tries by Hallam Bourton and Conor Packwood. Hillson also kicked seven conversions to finish with an impressive individual total of 29 points.
“Liskeard were not going to lie down and they made us work hard for it,” said Caddy.
“I think our fitness told and it got more comfortable at the end.
“The support play from the lads was outstanding at times.
“I suppose you could argue that in the middle half of the game – the tail end of the first half and start of the second – we almost tried to play too much and were trying to force off-loads.
“At 19-5 we maybe subconsciously thought we had the game in the bag and people were trying off-loads that maybe weren’t on and if we had gone one more phase there would have been a far better chance of scoring. But you can’t grumble too much. It wasn’t a bad day at the office.
“The sun was out the ground was reasonably nice so we could play some pretty decent rugby.”
Saltash have jumped up to ninth in the table after continuing their impressive run away at Newquay Hornets on Saturday.
The Ashes triumphed 37-9 to complete the double over the Hornets and extend their winning run to five games.
It is the first time this season they have been out of the bottom four and can now guarantee a mid-table finish if they beat North Tawton at home in their final match.
Kieran Down got Saltash going in Newquay with an early penalty.
The hosts did kick one of their own on 13 minutes but then exciting youngster Kristian Davis finished off a good move on the right seven minutes later.
Newquay kicked another penalty before the Ashes were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes.
However, the visitors defended well with a man less and once back to full strength they added a second try courtesy of Jay Moriarty, which Down converted to give his side a 15-6 half-time lead.
The Hornets kicked a third penalty after the break before Down replied with one of his own.
Davis then scored a brilliant individual try on 55 minutes before Moriarty also bagged a second not long later.
Saltash defended well against some late Newquay attacks and got the final try of the game just before the end when Moriarty went over for his hat-trick.
The Ashes were made to work harder for the win than in recent weeks but they were delighted not to concede a try, even when down to 14 men.
OPMs guaranteed themselves a top five finish in Devon One with a 45-7 away win at Totnes on Saturday.
The Old Boys, who had also scored more than 40 points the week before against New Cross, claimed four tries in the first half against Totnes and three in the second period.
But they did get a bit of a shock as struggling Totnes took the lead in the 19th minute.
However, that seemed to kick OPMs into action and just three minutes later they got their opening try courtesy of influential full-back Fred Smale, who also added the conversion.
OPMs took control of the game just before half-time when they scored three tries within the space of seven minutes.
Number eight Billy Garratt got their second in the 33rd minute before centre James Robinson went over and then winger Alex Jewell cross, with Smale converting two of them.
Straight at the start of the second half, Jewell bagged a second, which Smale converted.
Winger Chris Harmer then crossed the whitewash in the 50th minute to make it 38-7.
And right at the end of the game, Smale added another try, which he also converted.
Having had a tough cup game in mid-week, Old Techs just ran out of steam away at New Cross on Saturday.
They ended up losing 45-14 to the third-placed side, having been in the game at half-time.
Techs had picked up a number of injuries facing Devonport Services II in the RNEC Cup in midweek and so travelled to Kingsteignton with a make-shift squad.
They only had 15 squad players, with veterans Jimmy Carter and coach Shaun Bedford-Smith making up numbers on the bench. But Carter, who is 52, had to go on after just 20 minutes and Bedford-Smith was needed in the second half. In the closing stages Techs ended up down to 14 players due to injuries and New Cross took advantage.
The game was tight in the first half and New Cross just edged it 19-14. Dan Pullen and Steve Wilkinson scored first half tries for Techs, with teenage prop Harley Adams kicking a conversion and a penalty in the absence of any recognised goalkicker.
“To be fair, it was a good game and the lads enjoyed it,” said Bedford-Smith. “Even they (New Cross) said the score flattered them.
“They scored three tries in the final 15 minutes when we were down to 14 players, and that included me and Jimmy Carter.
“The boys had given everything but just had nothing left in the last 20 minutes, having played Wednesday night and not having anyone to bring on in what was a hot day.”
Argaum took advantage of a blank league week to welcome Welsh touring team Newtown to Bickleigh Down.
Newtown were the former club of Argaum’s Gideon Berends-Sherrif and he ended up playing a half for both sides in the social game. He managed to score in the second half when playing for Newtown, who ran out 34-20 winners.
Argaum were winning 20-12 early in the second half, having led 12-5 at the break. Jake Turfrey and Kallan Mallone were among Argaum’s try scorers.
DEVON MERIT TABLE
PLYMOUTH Fijians were denied a place in the David Butt Trophy final after they were beaten 80-45 by a very strong Topsham II side in a try-fest at Stonehouse Creek.
With Topsham’s first team match against Hayle having been cancelled the Exeter side were able to boost their second team squad with some of their Cornwall/Devon League players.
Will Loughton, George Holwill, Robin Edbrooke, Alex Moore and Ross Bovingdon were among the regular first team players they named amongst their matchday squad.
The Fijians had pushed Devonport Services II, who are in the top five of Devon Merit Table Division One, hard the previous week, but they found Topsham’s attacking threat much stronger and harder to deal with.
In the end Topsham, whose first team are pushing for the Cornwall/Devon League title, scored 12 tries and the Fijians seven in a mad game.
The Fijians will be disappointed not to make the final, having comfortably finished top of Division Two South & West with only one loss all season, and especially as Plymstock Albion Oaks II, who were runners-up to them, were given a bye straight through to the final after Division Two North & South winners Exmouth III were unable to raise a side to play them in the other semi-final.
Ben Turua scored a hat-trick for the Fijians, while Atu Kovla bagged two. Ian Strickland and Lameki scored their other tries.
“They were relentless and strong, but we did not tackle well enough.
“We weren’t at our strongest but we still played some good stuff. Our attack was good.”
Topsham II, who had been beaten by Ilfracombe in their last league match, will now play Oaks II in the final on April 23 when both their first teams will have games that could decide the Cornwall/Devon League title.
The Fijians, meanwhile, will turn their attentions to trying to retain the Plymouth Combination Sevens title at the start of May.
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