IVYBRIDGE will be looking to upset their Devon rivals Brixham on Saturday and claim their first away victory of the season.
The Bridgers, who sit fifth, have won three of their four home games but have yet to taste success on the road this season.
Meanwhile, Brixham, who are third in the table, are unbeaten at their Astley Park ground this term and have won their last three league and cup fixtures.
Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony says his side are the underdogs this weekend, but he is hoping his much-changed team can rise to the challenge.
“We are looking to be as well prepared as we can to go away to Brixham and try and get a win, however, we fully appreciate how tough that is,” said Tripcony.
“We also fully appreciate that we are going there as underdogs as Brixham have found so real good form – they are in the top three – so it’s going to be one tough test. But all the pressure is going to be on them at home.”
Ivybridge once again this season have to make a host of changes to their side which beat Old Centralians last weekend, with the likes of Ben Watts, Charlie Briant, Seb Musgrave and Will Peakman unavailable.
“We have got a few unavailabilities, but we, like a lot of teams, have had that for a lot of the games so far,” said Tripcony.
“We are very lucky with the size of our squad and we are pretty confident with how we can interchange.
“We all train together a lot and both our teams are in leagues now so that means our second team are really stepping up. We are really pleased with the training sessions we have and that is going to bring on people, which is what we want.”
Ivybridge are boosted by the return of Sam Brown after a short spell at Plymouth Albion.
He will start at fly-half on Saturday at Brixham, with usual 10, Matt Grieveson moving to scrum-half.
Tripcony will come into the team in the second-row, with Cameron Dale replacing Briant in the centre.
Saturday’s match kick-starts a thrilling month for Ivybridge who following Brixham then play Okehampton, Launceston and Devonport Services.
Fourth-placed Devonport Services are also on their travels in Regional One South West as they visit Weston-super-Mare.
After losing their opening two games, Weston have now won three out of their last four and last week beat Lydney away so Services know it will not be easy to return from Somerset with a win.
The league is already showing how competitive it is with only four teams winning more than half their games so far.
“As I said previously, on any day, any team can beat any team as you can see by some of the results,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
“Weston have come back a bit now from the start of the season. They won away from home last weekend and they beat Launceston at home in their game before that.
“It’s a big few weeks coming up for us. We’ve got Weston away and Drybook away, which then ends our big away trips, we then have Exmouth at home and Ivybridge away. In our first 10 games we will have played six away. If we can pick up some results in the next few games, it will have been a very good start.”
Services secured their fourth win in six games last weekend when they edged out Launceston 25-24.
Russell felt his team could have made that game far more comfortable for themselves.
“It’s all about learning,” said Russell. “They still try to play a bit like they did at level six but they can’t get away with that this year. But a win’s a win and it was five points.”
He added: “If you ask me what I want from the team this week, I would like the first 40 minutes against Camborne, the last 20 minutes against Brixham and the middle 20 minutes against Okehampton. If we could put all those three together, I would be happy.”
Services have lost winger Tom Davies to Plymouth Albion again, but they are set to welcome back fellow back three players Matt Neyle and Rhys Williams.
Devonport had 53 players available for this weekend and will put out a third team against the Medics.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be looking to bounce back from their heavy defeat to Cullompton last weekend when they travel to fellow mid-table side Tiverton on Saturday.
Oaks have not yet picked up any points on their travels since their promotion to Western West but would love to do it this week to prove a point after their 76-31 home defeat to Cullompton.
Plymstock showed they have got a good attack last week and scored five tries, but their defence let them down.
They will be looking to put that right in east Devon against a Tiverton side who also have three wins out of six. Tiverton currently sit fifth with Oaks seventh.
Tiverton’s wins have come against Penryn, Paignton and Falmouth, while Oaks have also beaten Paignton and Falmouth, as well as Bude.
Oaks do have a tough run of fixtures coming up between now and the start of December. After Tiverton, they face matches against Topsham, Bideford, Pirates Amateurs, Wiveliscombe and Kingsbridge.
UNBEATEN Counties Two Devon leaders Tavistock will not be taking Withycombe lightly when they visit Raleigh Park on Saturday.
Tavistock have claimed a maximum 30 points from their opening six games to sit eight points clear at the top of the standings.
But Withycombe are fourth and did beat Tavistock 17-5 at their place last year.
“It wasn’t our best performance there last season, but this is another season,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“We know they are no mugs and it should be a pretty good game to watch. We’ll just see how things go.”
Tavistock are going to have to make a number of changes to their team that beat Devonport Services II 51-5 last weekend.
After an impressive debut last week Charles Bowden is ill and so George Hillson will revert to his favourite number nine position, with Chris Watts starting at 10.
Full-back Dan Redstone is also missing, so Liam Watts will come in at full-back, wtih Jack Jones returning to the second row and Joe Burbage will come in at prop in place of the unavailable Toby Teague.
Antonio Stan could make his league debut for the club after been named on the bench, while Jack Easton is also fit enough to be among the replacements.
“I think we had 33 unavailable this weekend,” said Caddy. “But the way we play, everyone knows how it works and what to do if they are playing. The important thing is the lads are enjoying it.”
Devonport Services II hope to have a strong team out for their match against Torquay Athletic at the Rectory.
They have only won two of their six games so far but are hoping to start moving up the table soon.
“It’s a tough league, but that’s why I want to stay in it and eventually move up,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.
Ivybridge II, who were well beaten at South Molton last weekend, have also found it pretty tough, although they have won three of their opening six games. They will be hoping to add a fourth victory when they host struggling Brixham II at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
In Counties Two Cornwall, leaders Saltash begin a crucial month in their season when they host Redruth II at Moorlands Lane.
Saltash have had no difficulties winning their opening six matches, scoring 412 points and only conceding 42.
But now they face three of their title rivals in back-to-back games. Redruth II’s are first up this weekend, following by a trip to fellow unbeaten side Veor and then a home match against the other unbeaten side, St Ives.
They won’t really know what to expect from Redruth II, who are new opponents for them and whose team can change considerably depending on their first team.
Redruth II were narrowly beaten 24-20 against Veor last weekend and so will be looking to bounce back.
Saltash are able to welcome back captain Jay Moriaty in the backs and Devon Bennett-Murray in the pack, while Thomas Hollyman could make his league debut after been named on among the replacements.
Meanwhile, Liskeard-Looe will be aiming to get back to winning ways when they travel to Bodmin.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON AND DEVON MERIT TABLE
OPMs will be looking to keep up the pace at the top of Counties Three Devon East on Saturday when they visit Sidmouth II.
The Old Boys have made an impressive start to the new season with four wins out of four, but they will not be totally sure what to expect from Sidmouth II, who have been inconsistent so far.
“It will be interesting,” said OPMs head coach Andy Williams.
“A lot of the second teams are teams of sides three, four or even five leagues above where we are and so some of those boys could be playing first team rugby every so often or first team boys could be coming back from injury and just having a couple of games in the second to get their match fitness up. Those are the types of situations we could be encountering.”
Williams has been pleased with the start his side have made to the 2022-23 campaign.
“All credit to what we have done but there’s still a long way to go yet,” said Williams.
“We want to finish as high as we can. Obviously we would love to be pushing come the last two or three games of the season for a promotion spot, but we are just trying to build and get people in and play a style of rugby that is nice to watch and enjoyable to play.
“We have aspirations to play where the club did eight or 10 years ago. We have players here who are willing and eager to learn and we just want to build and build. We do have a lot of youngsters coming through.”
In Devon West, Old Techs could possibly go top this weekend if they could beat Paignton II’s away.
Techs currently sit third, four points behind leaders Tamar Saracens, who have played a game more and who are without a fixture this weekend, and one point behind second-placed Topsham II.
Techs have won four games in a row and are keen to try and keep that going in south Devon on Saturday.
“We have no idea what to expect this week,” said Old Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith.
“I can’t remember the last time we have played a Paignton side in a competitive fixture. It will be nice to go up there and play at a nice old ground.
“It is a bit of a journey into the unknown, but we know people are always stronger at home.
“As we say every week, we just have to concentrate on ourselves and our systems and what the coaches have been bringing in.
“We feel we are progressing each week, even using different players each week, but we are not getting ahead of ourselves. The important thing is players are enjoying it.
“Last Saturday was a really good team performance, but we picked up a few injuries, but that part and parcel of the game.”
Plymouth Argaum are also on a run. They have won their last four league and cup games, including putting 97 points on Teignmouth II last weekend.
This Saturday, Argaum travel to struggling Dartmouth, who are still winless.
“We have had a lot of home games so I’m going to be interested to see how we travel on the road,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery.
“It is very easy to put a side out when you are at home, but selection is getting a headache for me at the moment because so many people are wanting a game. I am starting to reward people who are training and performing on a Saturday.”
With player numbers improving, Argaum are hoping they might be able to get a second team out again this season.
“We have now arranged training on the Astro pitch at Brickfields on a Thursday and we are keen to get some more players to get a second team,” said Avery.
In the same division, Plymstock Albion Oaks II have a tough home game against second-placed Topsham II at Horsham Fields.
In the Devon Merit Table, Plymouth Fijians are set to play their first game of the season when they travel to Tavistock II.
The Fijians, who last season won their division in the Devon Merit Table, have struggled to get going this season with many of their military personnel away, but they are ready to go again now.
“We are hoping to get the show on the road again this weekend at Tavistock,” said co-chairman Mike Freeman. “And it should be an interesting game.”
Shawn Mucunabitu is back and will captain the Fijians, with Rabs Seru continuing on the coaching side. They do hope to have