REGIONAL ONE SOUTH WEST
DEVONPORT Services are expecting a major test when they host unbeaten Camborne at the Rectory on Saturday in an eagerly-anticipate re-arranged Regional One South West fixture.
The match should have been played on the second weekend of the season but was postponed following the death of the Queen.
However, the fixture has probably taken on more importance now following good starts by both clubs.
Camborne, who made a number of high-profile signings in the summer, have maximum points, having won all of their opening four fixtures with bonus points, including a massive 78-18 home win over Ivybridge last weekend.
But Services have also impressed since their promotion from South West One West, winning three out of their opening four games.
“Brixham was a test to see where we were at and we did well,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
“But everyone is looking at Camborne as the favourites to win it so it will be a good game to see where we are at.
“I think we should get a good crowd, hopefully we do.”
Services are unbeaten at home since April 2019, but that record is bound to come under threat by a Camborne side making their first visit to the Rectory in 12 years.
The Cornish club are set to hand a debut to summer fly-half signing Arron Simmonds and welcome back experienced forward Chris Fuca, but are likely to be without former Cornish Pirates duo Matt Evans and Nico de Battista.
Devonport are set to be without front-row forward Joe Daley, while they also still have injury problems in their backs.
“We have one or two missing, but it is what it is,” said Russell. “I think Camborne also have a couple missing as well.
“Joe Daley is one that is missing. He’s been phenomenal at the start of the season in the front-row, along with Rikki Benthan, Sam Bennett and Greg Thomas, but Oli Symons came on last week and did really well. We may also have James McFarlane back.
“We do have a few injuries in the backs at the minute, but they (Camborne) will probably be the same.”
Devonport Services II are also in league action when they visit Honiton in Counties Two Devon.
Both Services and Honiton have two wins out of four to their name this season – both only triumphing at home so far.
Honiton are looking for a hat-trick of victories having beaten Barnstaple II and Ivybridge II at home in their last couple of fixtures.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON WEST AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
TAMAR Saracens will be hoping to extend their advantage at the top of Devon West when they host Newton Abbot II on Saturday.
The game has been brought forward a week as Saracens were left without a fixture as their scheduled cup contest with Old Techs was postponed due to their city rivals having to play a rearranged league match.
However, by moving the fixture forward, it does mean Sarries will go two weeks without a game – they were down for a blank weekend on October 22 – so they are keen to increase their lead at the top.
They currently six eight points clear, although they have played a game more than second-placed Topsham II.
“We have two weeks off after this and that is probably needed as we have so many niggling injuries, especially in the backline” said head coach Mike Lewis.
“But going into a two-week break we absolutely want to keep that 100 per cent record, however, we just have to concentrate on performance. It is all about performance, performance, performance.
“We have been performing really well in terms of a squad and playing some great rugby. And, if we do that again at home, then I’m sure it will challenge Newton Abbot’s second team.”
However, Lewis admits his team are unsure what to expect from their visitors.
“Their first team have a Devon Cup game against Brixham,” said Lewis. “Generally, when you have a cup weekend you tend to be a bit short, so they might have to bring a few second teamers into the firsts, but they could have every man and his dog available this weekend because they all want to play against Brixham.
“They have had a couple of good results but also a couple of not so good ones, so you just don’t know what team is going to come to us.
“But we just have to plan and prepare as we would any other game.”
Centre Greg Parrott is set to be missing again but he is close to fitness again. Dan Best is also out, but Ryan Deacon and Scott Sheldon could be back. In the forwards, hooker Adam Corbett is unavailable, but Chey Bryce is available after recently re-signing for the club.
Meanwhile, Old Techs will be hoping to make it three wins in a row when they travel to struggling Totnes.
But Techs say they are certainly not getting carried away and are wary of a trip to Totnes, who have been one of their bogey teams away.
“Totnes has not really been a happy hunting ground for us,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “We lost there last year and it’s not a place we have often gone and won at.
“They are always tough at home and I’m hoping the players are not looking at how Totnes did against Argaum and Sarries as it’s not them going up there but us.
“They might have everyone back this week and might have just been struggling other weeks. You just can’t take any game lightly or you will come a cropper.
“We just have to do what we have been doing and stick to the patterns the coaches have been bringing in.
“We have had a couple high scoring games, but, if we are been a bit critical, we have leaked a couple of soft tries.
“Hopefully we can get a result, but we can’t just expect to go up there and win.”
Techs do hope to have Mike Walkden, Danny Bond, Jack Williams and Will Booth back this week.
“We should have a reasonable squad out,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “And it should be an interesting game. This is always a good fixture and it is a game we are looking forward to.”
It does appear that Devonport High School Old Boys have withdrawn from the Devon Merit Table. Although it has not been confirmed by the club, their fixtures have been removed from the RFU’s website.
IVYBRIDGE will be hoping to bounce back from their biggest defeat in years when they make the trip across Dartmoor to take on Okehampton in the Devon Senior Cup.
An under-strength Bridgers team were heavily beaten 78-18 away at high-flying Camborne last weekend in Regional One South West.
And they are expecting another tough game against an Okehampton side who will also be keen to bounce back after losing at home to Devonport Services last Saturday.
“We are ready to again,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “We have a couple back from injuries etc.
“The past few weeks we haven’t been able to be consistent with our selection, but that’s probably same in most clubs. However, we do appreciate that consistency does help out.
“We do still have a couple of players missing but we have guys that are stepping in that we are more than happy with. All the guys are training well together and it is a real squad effort.
“Our second XV have had their cup game postponed so we only have one team out this weekend but we are happy with the one we are sending out.”
Tripcony insists Ivybridge are not looking at this weekend’s game any different to a league fixture
It’s just another game,” he said. “We’ll prepare the best we can to try and make sure we get some momentum.
“We haven’t got any momentum at the minute and so I think we will be the underdogs. I think it is a really a free hit out for us.
“We’ll go out and we will be chucking the kitchen sink at what will be very tough opponents at a very tough place to get a win. It is a very tough place to go.
“Both teams are trying to bounce back and it should make for a very good Devon Cup game.”
Ivybridge are still missing scrum-half Ben Watts, hooker Henry Trudgill and centre Kristian Davis, while they are also without prop Matt Finn this weekend.
Plymstock Albion Oaks should have been travelling to higher league Teignmouth in the Devon Intermediate Cup but that game has been called off.
In the Devon Junior Cup, team-of-the-month Tavistock should have been playing Torquay Athletic at Sandy Park, but the Tics have pulled out of that fixture.
Unbeaten Devon East side OPMs have also pulled out of their Devon Junior Cup fixture away at higher league Withycombe.
In the Devon Junior Shield, Plymouth Argaum will be looking for revenge on Salcombe when the sides meet at Bickleigh Down.
Argaum had suggested at the time that they make that game a double-header but Salcombe were not keen and so it has given the Plymouth side a second bite at the cherry.
“When we played them before we were short and it was our first game with our new systems,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery. “This game should see how far we have come on since then.
“We have got better availability now. I think this week we have about eight missing out on making the squad.”
However, Argaum are set to be without some key players like Jack Morris and Billy Stockwell on Saturday.
Plymouth Fijians should have been making the long trip to Ilfracombe in the same competition but have pulled out of the fixture. However, they hope to be back up and running for next week’s Devon Merit Table home game against Kingsbridge II.
The Fijians, who insist they will play this season, were hit badly last month by losing most of their military personnel due to the Queen’s death.