IVYBRIDGE and Devonport Services both returned to winning ways at home on Saturday in Regional One South West.
Ivybridge, who had lost their last four league and cup games, claimed a much-needed 29-18 victory over Old Centralians at Cross-in-Hand, while Services, who had been edged out by Camborne the week before, held on to claim a hard-earned 25-24 success over Launceston at the Rectory.
Fly-half Matt Grieveson was key to Ivybridge’s win, scoring 24 of their 29 points. He scored one try, kicked five penalties and two conversions.
Sam Furse scored Ivybridge’s other try in the first half as they led 16-6 at the break.
“We really needed a win,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “It’s just nice to be the right side of the scoreline.
“The guys really put a shift in. At times we did make it difficult for ourselves, but we managed to pull through together.
“We felt we were in control of the game – we were always in front which was nice – however, there were some testing times. We went down to 13 men for 10 minutes, which really tested us and that was when they got their try.
“When you haven’t been winning games you tend to try and force things and I think we were doing that at times – we were just trying too hard and were our own worst enemies.
“But the intensity that we showed defensively, especially, when we were down to 13 men, really won us the game.
“Three weeks ago we were on the wrong side of a very, very similar game, so it’s nice that we have managed to get this win. Hopefully, we can change momentum now in our favour.”
Tripcony admitted that they maybe should have scored more tries, but after four weeks without a victory they just wanted to make sure they came out in front.
“It is always important to take your points,” said Tripcony. “But probably looking back we will be disappointed that we weren’t able to get the bonus point. We had a couple of disallowed tries, but it was just important to get the win.
“We’ll enjoy the win, but come Wednesday and Thursday we’ll get back to the grind.”
The win, Ivybridge’s third of the season, has lifted them up to fifth in a league where only four teams have won more than half their games.
Devonport Services, who are fourth, did get the bonus point in their 25-24 win over Launceston, but they had to survive a couple of nervous minutes after their Cornish visitors scored a converted try in the 77th minute
“It did become squeaky bum time for the last couple of minutes,” admitted Services team manager Kieran Leach.
“But in those last few minutes we just kept knocking them back. We saved our best defence until the last two or three minutes. We kept knocking them back and eventually they knocked on and that was the end of it.
“Our defence in the last few minutes won us the game. We didn’t panic.”
For the second week running, Services were slow starting the game.
“I think in the first 10 minutes we spent eight of them defending,” said Leach. “We had two minutes with the ball but we gave it away twice.”
Launceston did take an early lead when hooker Fred Bulut score following a line-out and Dan Pearce, who in the summer can be found turning out for City of Plymouth Athletics Club across the road from the Rectory at Brickfields, added the conversion.
But Devonport cut the gap with a Richard West penalty and then they took the lead when flanker Liam Jarvis scored a converted try from a catch-and-drive move.
Both sides then threw everything at each other.
Launceston, who had won on their last visit to the Rectory in March 2019, went back in front when the experienced Ryan Westren took advantage of some missed tackles to score from a scrum. Pearce added the conversion to make it 14-10 to the visitors.
But just before half-time, Services got a second try when replacement prop Greg Thomas, a former Launceston player, marked his return from injury with a try out wide to give his side a 15-14 half-time lead.
And straight after the break, Devonport increased their lead with a great try by James Hocking that was started by captain Matt Gregory in his own 22 and also involved winger Tom Davies making a great break down the grandstand side.
Pearce cut the lead to 20-17 with a penalty but then Services got their fourth try when, after a number of phases, second-row Mike Hunt scored to make it 25-17.
Devonport probably hoped that would be it, but three minutes from time Launceston’s summer scrum-half signing Corey Jenkinson, who had previously played for Plymstock Albion Oaks and Wellington, scored a converted try following a line-out to give his side hope.
However, Services made sure they saw the game out to claim a fourth win in six games since their promotion and move up to fourth.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks’ unbeaten start to the season at home was brought to a crashing end on Saturday as they were well beaten 76-31 by leaders Cullompton.
It was Oaks heaviest home defeat since losing 61-0 to Paignton in 2017 and it was the first time they had conceded more than 70 points in a league game for over 12 years.
Back in 2009-10 conceding lots of points was a regular occurrence. That season as they were relegated from the Cornwall/Devon League they let in more than 60 points in 10 games.
But in recent years Horsham Fields has become something of a fortress where defeats have been few and far between.
Cullompton were beaten 27-22 at Horsham Fields last year but the east Devon side appear a different team altogether after gaining promotion alongside Oaks.
Cullompton are already five points clear at the top of the table with six bonus points wins from six.
However, despite the heavy defeat, Oaks are in seventh and they at least picked up a bonus point on Saturday for scoring more than four tries.
Even without star number eight Ryan McKibbin, Oaks have plenty of attacking options.
Full-back Alex Chapman score a hat-trick of tries for them on Saturday, with hooker Aiden Taylor getting his customary try and flanker Alasdair Ogilvie also crossing the whitewash. Pete Keanie, who started at fly-half instead of centre, kicked three conversions.
Oaks, who admitted they just didn’t defend well enough on Saturday, will be looking to bounce back away at Tiverton this coming weekend.
COUNTIES TWO DEVON
TAVISTOCK have extended their lead at the top of Counties Two Devon to eight points after a convincing 51-5 home victory over Devonport Services II.
It was the Sandy Park club’s sixth successive bonus-point win this season and the third time they had scored more than 50 points in a game.
They even opted to experiment a bit in Saturday’s match by moving star scrum-half George Hillson from number nine to 10 and bringing in youngster Charles Bowden for his debut.
Hillson might not have scored the tries he normally does playing at nine – he had to settle for just one on Saturday playing at 10 – but he was still influential and Services looked terrified whenever he got the ball.
Centre Jake Le Gassick also gave Services a tough time with numerous strong runs, as did the most of the Tavistock forwards.
Services started brilliantly and took an early lead, but as the match settled it was clear their defence and tackling was not quite up to the job of stopping Tavistock’s fast-paced game.
“We started so well and I thought maybe we could do something,” said Services coach Keir Murphy, who came through Tavistock’s ranks. “But then the floodgates opened.
“There’s lots of little work-ons, but there’s a lot of winnable games for us in this league.”
Services were not helped by losing hooker Josh Martin and number eight Tyler Busfield to injury.
Tavistock, though, were just delighted to bag another bonus-point win.
“We went down 5-0 – and that hasn’t really happened to us very much lately – but the lads responded well to that and we got into our game.
“Charles Bowden offered something different for us at nine and we had Hillson out there at 10. I think most teams would be expecting him (Hillson) to be at nine and working on how to stop him there but at 10 he’s got more room to work in. He did distribute pretty well at 10, but the whole backline was pretty good. The wingers were outstanding.”
Tavistock did score nine tries, but there was a 25-minute spell in the second half were there was no scoring.
“Services came back into it a bit and we probably got a bit ragged,” said Caddy. “We made some changes to the team, but I’m not going to grumble much. All in all, it was a good all-round performance from the whole squad.”
Devonport II’s got the perfect start when captain Matt Scott scored from close range in the left corner, but that turned out to be as good as it got for the visitors.
Three tries in just five minutes early in the match made sure there was only going to be one winner.
Winger Conor Packwood got Tavistock going when he crossed in the right corner after good pressure before flanker Ryan Braggs scored on the other side just three minutes later.
It got better for Tavistock when prop Toby Teague scored after a great break involving Hillson and Andrew Schuttkacker.
They then had to wait until the 30th minute to get the bonus point when prop Charlie Charlton scored after more good play by Le Gassick and Hillson.
And Tavistock got a fifth try before the break when flanker Jack Giddy crossing on the left to make it 29-5.
The hosts came out for the second half fired up and scored two tries in the opening eight minutes courtesy of Le Gassick, who claimed an interception touch-down, and replacement Jack Lewis, who scored after Tavistock opted for a five-metre scrum from a penalty after Devonport had been reduced to 14 players for a deliberate knock-on.
But Services actually played well while a man down and did not allow Tavistock to score during the rest of that time.
In fact, Tavistock had to wait until the last eight minutes to score again when Andrew Craddock and Hillson ran in tries.
In the same division, Ivybridge II found it tough going at South Molton, losing 38-7 at Unicorn Park.
COUNTIES TWO CORNWALL
Will Morton celebrated his 250th appearance for Saltash by grabbing a hat-trick of tries as the Counties Two Cornwall league leaders hammered Newquay Hornets 97-10 away.
Unbeaten Saltash scored 15 tries at Newquay, with 11 coming in the second half.
The reorganisation of the leagues in Cornwall has certainly not been a success with plenty of mix-matches and walkovers.
In their opening six games, Saltash have scored a staggering 412 points and only conceded 41. That works out at scoring an average of 68 points a game and letting in just seven.
But Saltash now know they have a crucial part of the season coming up with games against Redruth II, Veor, St Ives, Bodmin and St Austell II before the end of November.
The Ashes, St Ives are Veor are all unbeaten so far, but Saltash sit top courtesy of an extra bonus point.
Saltash, though, will certainly go into the next few weeks full of confidence.
It took them just two minutes to opening the scoring against Newquay when Ryan Cruickshanks broke on the left wing and slipped the ball to Greg Eatwell to touch down for a converted try.
Newquay hit back and they equalised after 20 minutes with a converted try.
And some loose play resulted in Newquay actually taking the lead with a penalty near the posts three minutes later.
At this point the Hornets were playing well but Danny Snook put Saltash back into the lead with a good try.
That was followed by another from Greg Eatwell and on the stroke of half-time Morton crossed for the bonus point try to make it 26-10.
But the second period was all one-way with Saltash playing good open running rugby with tries coming from Ryan Cruickshanks (2), Jack Mills (3), Simon Nance, Will Morton (2), Lewis Stuart (2) and Lewis Woolaway. Ryan Cruickshanks and Billy Dover kicked the extra points.
Saltash’s fitness and conditioning certainly showed in the second half. Dover come on and made a good impression as did Royal Navy forward Mills, who bagged a hat-trick.
Unfortunately, Liskeard-Looe could not do Saltash any favours as they lost 66-0 at home to St Ives.
In a division completely split in two, Liskeard-Looe sit eighth with two wins out of six. Only the top five teams in the league have actually won more than two games so far. Liskeard have at least played the top three so will be hopeful of picking up points in the coming weeks.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON WEST
AMAZINGLY Saltash were not the only Plymouth Combination team scoring 97 points on Saturday as Plymouth Argaum did just that as well in Devon West.
Argaum hammered Teignmouth II’s 97-0 at Bickleigh Down to claim their fourth successive league and cup win.
Chris Perkins and Tom Worboys boys both bagged hat-tricks for Argaum, while Preston Wilkins and Owen Gocher got two apiece, while they were also touch-downs for Tom Mann, Jake Turfrey, Reece Gocher and Cheyenne Edwards.
Argaum’s win came despite missing the likes of Tom Shephard, Dave Clack and Will Lloyd with illness and Dan James with injury.
“We were actually a few players short,” said head coach Dean Avery. “A few dropped out on the morning.
“It does show that we have a bit of depth in the squad now and everyone is willing to step in at the last minute.
“They (Teignmouth) were reasonably short, but last week we took our foot of the gas against Salcombe when we went about 30 points up. So I made a point of telling them that we were not to do that this week and if we did get in front we had to keep the foot of the pedal. And this week they did not stop.
“Chris Perkins got a hat-trick as did Tom Worboys, who led from the front all day.
“Everyone is very buoyant. I think we are growing something quite special at the club. I think it is credit to the boys that we beat them by some many.
“Yeah, they were reasonably short and only travelled with 15, but you can only play what is in front of you. The ref actually blew up a few minutes from the end so we didn’t get the chance to hit 100.”
Argaum, who are starting training on the Astroturf pitch at Brickfields on a Thursday from this week, are now up to fifth in the table, but Old Techs are now third after they beat Plymstock Albion Oaks 29-0 at Weston Mill.
It was Techs’ fourth bonus-point win in a row and they are now only four points behind leaders Tamar Saracens with a game in hand.
After a tough start to the season, Oaks had strengthened their second team with the signing of the highly-rated Peni ‘Little T’ Turua from Techs and fellow Fijians Sailosi Masuwale. They also included the likes of Sean Dunn, Jack Green, Lance Davies and Nathan Akers in their side on Saturday, who all have extensive first team experience at a higher level.
‘Satisfying’ was the term Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith used to describe the win.
“They did have a good side out, with a few new players,” said Bedford-Smith. “And it was a tough game.
“We played against the wind first half and we were only 3-0 up. But what I liked is we did not panic.
“Last season we might have panicked and lost our heads, but the big plus point is the coaching and the players kept to their patterns and kept doing what we have been doing in training and the gaps appeared.
“But I think our defence won us the game. The wind was quite strong and in the first half we kept them out. We just snuffed them out. We knew they had a couple of dangerous players and we just got to them quickly and didn’t give them any space.”
Tom Ryan kicked a penalty for Techs in the first half. After the interval, Ben Hockey scored the game’s first try, that Ryan converted.
Billy Evans then scored from a quick tap penalty and Danny Bond also went over after Techs had taken another penalty quickly.
And, from the restart from Bond’s try, James Douglas caught the ball and ran through everyone to score and secure his side the bonus point.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON EAST AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OPMs are the new leaders of the Devon East league after they comfortably beat Torrington 48-0 at King George V Playing Fields.
It was the Old Boys’ fourth consecutive bonus-point win and puts them two points clear at the top of the standings.
OPMs, already without captain Billy Garratt, lost number eight Pete Marr straight from kick-off after he injured his ankle running the ball back.
But that gave an early opportunity for youngster Ethan Millard to come on and he scored the game’s opening try after just six minutes.
Lewis King then added a second try before captain for the day Fred Smale went over before half-time for a try his younger brother Matt converted.
Straight after the interval, fly-half Matt Smale crossed the whitewash. He converted that and also added a penalty six minutes later.
In a hot-start to the second period, centre Callum Morgan then touched down before Oliver Jarvis did the same.
The game then went a bit quiet but in the final few minutes Kallan Malone added a six try for OPMs.
New OPMs coach Andy Williams says he is delighted with how his side have started the season.
“We have done very well,” he said. “We are on a bit of a journey and what we are doing in training is starting to take shape in the performances and the scores.
“I am absolutely delighted with how our defence has changed. What we are doing defensively is very good.
“Torrington were no mugs. They came with a game-plan and they tried to execute but we were stopping it.
“We just need to focus on our attack a little bit more now and just try to polish that.”
He added: “Our team cohesion is starting to come. Our game management isn’t quite there yet – when to kick, when to run, when to put the ball dead and when to suck it up and put it up our jumpers a bit more. But overall, I’m really pleased. I can’t fault the commitment and it’s a great club to be involved in.”
OPMs fielded three teenagers on Saturday, including two – Millard and Aaron Trinder – in the back-row.
“Literally from kick-off Pete Marr caught the ball made a three yards break and got tackled and rolled his ankle and had to leave the field of play,” said Williams.
“But we were lucky to have Ethan Millard on the bench. He came on and played really well. We also had Aaron Trinder in the back-row. The two youngsters in the back-row credited themselves really well. They made a lot of good plays, turnovers and tackled well.”
OPMs second team, the Jesters, found life a bit tougher against a strong Tavistock II side in the Devon Merit Table, losing 50-19.
Also in the Merit Table, Plympton Victoria claimed a second successive win as they overcame Saltash II 29-14 at St Mary’s Field.
There was a shortage of referees in Plymouth on Saturday, but Jamie Hough volunteered to officiate to make sure both Plym Vic and Saltash could have a game as both had good numbers.
“After a week of struggling to find a referee, Jamie Hough volunteered to do it as he knew both teams were mob-handed and it would have been a shame not to play a game. We can’t thank him enough.”
Hunt added: “It was nice to grind out another victory and one with a bonus point, although we did make heavy weather of it and did our best to let them back into it.”
George Cosford, James Bore, Joe Spencer and Kobe Bryant scored tries for Plym Vic, with Jordan Blair kicking three conversions and a penalty.
Lewis Jeffery has joined Plym Vic for this season after DHSOB decided to pull of the Merit Table due to a lack of players. It is hoped DHSOB will return to senior league action next season.
The Plymouth Fijians have not pulled out, but they haven’t yet played a game. However, they remain hopeful they will have a team to travel to Tavistock II next weekend.
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