NEWLY-promoted Devonport Services are hoping for a bumper crowd as they play their first home match in Regional One South West by hosting Devon rivals Brixham at the Rectory.
It will be the first of eight Devon derbies in the league this season for Services, but this is the one they have waited longest for.
Devonport have not played Brixham in a competitive game for 23 years, although they have enjoyed some hotly-contested pre-season matches in recent seasons.
“It’s our first home game after our last one got pulled so we are looking forward to it,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
“We also have a sponsors’ day so hopefully we will get a good old crowd and there will be a good atmosphere and it will be a cracking game to watch.”
He added: “There are so many Devon sides in this league that we have lots of derbies, which is cracking.”
Brixham made a great start to the season by beating Weston-super-Mare 44-29 away but they then came unstuck at Okehampton, losing 27-7. But they bounced back last week with a convincing 36-11 home win over Launceston.
Services won their first match away at Lydney, but were beaten 28-15 away at Old Centralians last Saturday.
“I think that was a welcome to level five,” said Russell when talking about last week’s defeat. “It shows that if we are not on the money, don’t take our chances and don’t play at 100 per cent for the whole game then we will lose games. I think it was an eye-opener for the lads.
“I think last year at level six, they could play for patches and still come away with victories, but in this league you have to keep going for the whole time.”
Russell is certainly hoping they will do that on Saturday against Brixham.
Tyler Busfield and Toby Knowles both picked up injuries in a collision last weekend in Gloucestershire, while Greg Thomas is also out after suffering a head injury on the opening day against Lydney.
Ivybridge are also at home in Regional One South West on Saturday when they host Lydney at Cross-in-Hand.
The Bridgers have won both their opening two home games but slipped up away at Chew Valley last Saturday.
Ivybridge are without hooker Henry Trudgill and backs Tom Scoles and Kristian Davis this week.
Ben Collins will start at hooker, while Ben Scott will come into the backs for his Ivybridge league debut. Scott will be one of four backs on Saturday for Ivybridge who have never played more than seven games for the first team.
Ivybridge have not played Lydney since the 2017-18 season so don’t know too much about them.
“We just have to be the best we can,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony, who is hoping his team can continue their unbeaten home record this season.
“We just have to worry about ourselves and really focus on our performance.
“If we get our performance right, hopefully that will take care of itself.”
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be aiming to finally get off the mark away from home on Saturday when they make the trip across the Tamar to play Penryn.
Oaks have won both their home games since their promotion, but were beaten heavily at Kingsbridge in their only away trip so far.
Plymstock say they are viewing any points picked up on their travels a bonus.
“It’s an away game so anything would be a luxury for us,” said player-coach Aiden Taylor.
“It all depends what team we can get on the bus.
“I think everyone knows that we are not the strongest away from home and that it is all about our home form.
“We have nine points after three games and I think we would have taken that at the beginning of the season.”
Penryn have only won one of their opening three games – a 30-5 opening home victory over Paignton. Since then they have lost at home to Cullompton and narrowly went down at Bude last weekend.
SOMETHING will have to give at Sandy Park on Saturday as the top two in Counties Two Devon – Tavistock and Exmouth II – clash.
Both clubs have a maximum 15 points from three games, although Tavistock sit top courtesy of a having a massive points difference of 106 points.
Tavistock have beaten Brixham II, South Molton and North Tawton, while Exmouth have overcome the second teams of Barnstaple, Ivybridge and Brixham.
Despite having such a big game on Saturday, Tavistock did agree to play a combined New Zealand and Australia Navy team at Sandy Park on Thursday night.
Tavistock, who fielded a combination of first and second team players, were beaten 58-19 by the strong Southern Hemisphere select side, who made a blistering start with two tries in the opening four minutes. The navy team, who did not play in a matching kit, had some very strong runners and some big hitters.
But Tavistock kept going and Josh O’Neill and Jake Le Gassick scored first half tries for them, with Ethan Lamerton added one second half.
“Hopefully, touch-wood we have come out of it without any injuries,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“I think we knocked them about as much as they knocked us about.
“But it was obvious that a lot of those lads play at a far bit higher level than us.”
However, Caddy said the score did not really matter as it was about the event and hosting such a big game.
“There was a good crowd and the clubhouse was full up until late.”
But Thursday’s game will be forgotten now as Tavistock’s eyes turn to Exmouth II.
“It’s not going to be easy, but that’s what you want. We’ll see if we can get another scalp of one of the big boys and go from there.”
In the same division, Ivybridge II visit Honiton and will give a debut to Mark Hardie, while Devonport Services II will visit South Molton.
In Counties Two Cornwall, Saltash will look to keep their impressive form going at Illogan Park.
The Ashes are the early leaders of the division with three big wins from three – a 66-0 victory over Camborne School of Mines, a 74-0 triumph against Hayle and a 62-15 success against Helston.
But Saltash will not be taking a trip to Illogan Park lightly. It will be a new venue for most of Saltash’s players and Illogan Park did make Liskeard-Looe and Redruth II work hard for wins against them.
Liskeard-Looe, who have won two out of their opening three games, will be expecting a tough test when they visit the Recreation Ground to play unbeaten Redruth II.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON
TAMAR Saracens will be looking to continue their winning start to the season when they host Paignton II at the Parkway.
Sarries are holding a VP and sponsors day on Saturday and have Devon RFU president Paul Harris coming to watch.
“Hopefully, we will get a fair few people down,” said head coach Mike Lewis. “But that does bring a bit of pressure as you want to play with a bit more flare and put on a show.”
Sarries have beaten Topsham II, Argaum and Salcombe in their first three games but are a bit unsure what to expect from Paignton II, who have had mixed results.
“You look at their last couple of games and it looks like they are doing pretty well,” said Lewis. “But they did get smashed in their first game, so we don’t know where to gauge them. We just have to be really switched on.”
Sarries will be without Frazer Tatchell, who was sent off last weekend, while centre Greg Parrott is struggling with injury, but they are set to welcome back Aaron Webb and Scott Sheldon and have just re-signed forward Chey Bryce from Devonport Services.
Plymouth Argaum head coach Dean Avery is looking forward to his side’s home meeting with Newton Abbot II at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.
“I was captain there (at Newton Abbot) for about seven years so I’m looking forward to it.”
Avery admits he would love to beat them, but knows it will be tough as Newton Abbot have three wins out of two and their only defeat was a narrow 24-21 reverse to Topsham II last week.
“They are coming to us with is advantage,” said Avery.
Argaum are missing captain Dan Smith, but should have Adam Walker available to come into the back-row. Jack Morris should also be back after missing Argaum big win at Totnes last weekend, while JJ Vom Hagen, Cheyenne Edwards and Chris Perkins should also be available again.
Old Techs will play only their second game of the season on Saturday when they host Teignmouth II.
Techs have had a bit of a disjointed start to the campaign with their first game against Totnes getting postponed and then having a blank weekend last Saturday. The only match they have played so far was a narrow 18-9 loss to Newton Abbot II.
“We are looking pretty good on numbers this week,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“I think we have about 10 available that weren’t against Newton Abbot, which is good, but we do have five who played in that game not available. However, that’s quite good as it’s normally the oher way around.
“We have had two good weeks training.
“The Newton Abbot game was pretty tight and could have gone either way but they scored a breakaway try near the end. I think the lads were a bit disappointed with that game as they felt it was one they could have won.
“We would have liked to have started with a win, but now we are just looking forward to playing this week.
“Teignmouth have not lost yet and have three wins out of three so they must have a bit about them.
“We just want to put in a good performance.”
Techs are holding their sponsors and old boys’ day at Weston Mill on Saturday.
Plymstock Albion Oaks II, who had been well beaten in both their opening games, have surprisingly been handed a walkover this weekend by Dartmouth.
In Counties Three Devon East, OPMs visit old rivals New Cross on Saturday.
The sides finished third and fourth last season in the old Devon One. Although New Cross finished just ahead of the Old Boys, OPMs did beat them convincingly in both meetings.
After opening their season last week with a 68-7 home win over Exeter Athletic, OPMs new coach Andy Williams is looking forward to seeing how his side goes against New Cross.
“It’s a bit of a home fixture for me as I only live a 10-minute drive from there,” said Williams.
“It will be interesting to see how we go. New Cross have got some big lads – a big lumpy pack – and they won’t be as easy to shift around perhaps as last week, but we’ll see.
“We just have to focus on what we have to do. Our line-out needs a bit of work, as does our handling and decision-making. We’ll focus on what we need to do and try and go out and play how we want to play and hopefully nullify what they want to do.”
In the Devon Merit Table, Plymouth Fijians are due to travel to Moorlands Lane to play Saltash II in their opening match of the season.
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