REGIONAL ONE SOUTH WEST
REPLACEMENT Charlie Teague scored a try with the last play of the game to secure Ivybridge a nail-biting 18-13 victory over local rivals Devonport Services at a packed Cross-in-Hand on Saturday.
This eagerly-awaited league derby – the first in nearly nine years – could hardly have had a more dramatic ending.
With time virtually up, Ivybridge were trailing 13-11 when they were awarded a penalty out on the clubhouse side.
The usually-reliable Matt Grieveson, who had surprisingly missed a kick 10 minutes early, went for the posts to try to win his side the match.
His effort from out-wide missed, much to the delight of the large travelling support, but they were quickly silenced when the referee ordered a re-take after saying a Services player moved.
However, once again Grieveson missed and the Services players and supporters must have been thinking they have survived yet another late scare this season.
But the referee decided there was still time for one final play and from the drop-out, Ivybridge ran the ball back hard and after a few phases they quickly shifted it right where Teague was there to go over and win the game for his side. And, after his previous misses, Grieveson kicked the difficult touch-line conversion.
“It is the worst way to lose, but the best way to win,” said Ivybridge forwards coach Jay Geraty.
“We spoke at half-time and said we would have to play right up until the 80th-minute and I said that the game might be won in the last minute – and as it turned out it was.”
Geraty said he still had ‘faith’ that the team could win it even after the missed penalty.
He added: “The lads had worked hard all week. We had talked about building a bit of a culture and our U16s won in the Medics Challenge against Devonport on Thursday, then our seconds won on Friday down there and then our colts and firsts won.
“We have bought into a culture and it is an attitude thing. It’s not really to do with the physical ability – it just came down to the attitude and that want to win.
“I think whenever we have these games the form book almost goes out the window and it just comes down to an out-and-out battle.”
Devonport Services head coach Ben Russell said: “They deserved to win. They took their opportunities.
“We weren’t at the races in the first half. We came back into it well, but didn’t play the game we were supposed to have played and so they deserved it.”
When asked if he felt his team was going to get away with a victory after Grieveson missed the two penalty kicks, Russell said: “Probably not, because we got away with it last week (against Exmouth) and we also got away with it a couple of games against ago against Launceston, so it was probably coming. That’s the reality.
“We are putting ourselves in positions we should not be in, but we will learn from it and move on.”
What was particularly frustrating for Services was that they could not see out the game from the drop-out – the last play – after the penalty missed.
Russell said: “Rather than just getting set and taking our time we ended up not in the right positions and let them go three passes against a prop on the left-hand side. They’ve attacked well, we’ve scrambled well, but they have then scored in the corner and they deserved it.”
Devonport were not helped on Saturday by losing forwards Greg Thomas and Mike Hunt to injury in the opening eight minutes.
“I can’t fault the attitude and the work-rate from the eight forwards on the pitch as they’ve gone for the whole game,” said Russell. “It did lesson our options a bit.”
A tight match was always expected. Services went into the fixture sitting third and Ivybridge fifth. The Bridgers had won four out of five games at home and Services had won four out of five away.
And it proved as close as everyone expected, with out-and-out try scoring chances at a premium.
Ivybridge started well and dominated the opening 20 minutes. Grieveson missed with a penalty on 12 minutes but four minutes later the hosts did go in front when Adam Northcott scored from a catch-and-drive move.
Services had to defend hard before they pulled level on 24 minutes with their first real attack – winger Luke Stannard crossing in the right corner.
But they were only level for seconds as they knocked on the restart and gave away a penalty that Grieveson kicked to make it 8-5.
The visitors had Tom Davies yellow carded in the closing stages of the first half for a dangerous tackle, but they still had a great chance when they got a penalty in injury-time. They went for the corner but lost the line-out.
Straight after the interval, Grieveson increased Ivybridge’s lead to 11-5 with a penalty, but then Devonport came to life.
After they charged down an Ivybridge kick they got a penalty, which Kieran Down kicked to make it 11-8.
And then seven minutes later they took the lead. They got a penalty for a deliberate knock-on by Will Peakman, who was yellow carded, and Services opted for a scrum, an area where they did dominate. They got the push on and replacement scrum-half Oli Mulberry was able to pick up and dive over the line.
However, Services did not build on that and could not get into the right places to use their impressive scrum.
And it was Ivybridge, despite having lost scrum-half Ben Watts with injury, who finished the stronger. They had the chance to go back in front in the 69th minute with a penalty but Grieveson surprisingly missed.
Kristian Davis, who had another good game in the centre, and Tom Scoles combined to nearly score five minutes from time. On that occasion the final pass just let them down but the hosts kept the pressure on and eventually got the two late penalties before Teague scored his last-gasp winner.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks find themselves in the bottom three of Western West after going down 34-22 at home to third-placed Pirates Amateurs.
The defeat was their fifth in a row and in that time they have dropped from fifth down to 10th.
Oaks did have quite a strong team out on Saturday and handed a debut to former Devonport Services and Brixham back Tom Goodman and only a second appearance to his former team-mate Kyle Browne. Lewis Paterson and Andy Porter were also back in the team after missing the previous week.
Goodman and Browne were both among the try scorers for Oaks, who trailed 15-8 at half-time.
Plymstock were more competitive against the Pirates at home than they were in April when they met in the final match of the 2021-22 season and Saturday’s game was in the balance for large periods of time.
Oaks will take confidence from their performances and know, after a tough run of fixtures against promotion-chasing sides, that they have some winnable games coming up before Christmas.
COUNTIES Two Devon leaders Tavistock showed their strength in depth by seeing off Exeter Saracens 33-14 at home on Saturday.
The Sandy Park club, who have only been beaten once this season, had a host of players missing at the weekend, including top scorer George Hillson, Jake Le Gassick, Andrew Schuttacker, Seb Cox, Josh O’Neill, Martin Budden and Dan Redstone
But they were still able to comfortably see off their Exeter visitors with five tries, three of which came from young scrum-half Charles Bowden. Toby Teague and Rob Hockin scored their other touch-downs.
They now go into a cup weekend, sitting five points clear of second-placed Honiton in the table.
“I think in the first half we squandered five scoring chances,” admitted Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy.
“Second half we probably missed a couple of clear-cut chances, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
“We were maybe pushing offloads that were maybe not on and passing when it might have been better to hold on to it for one more phase, but we have to accept that we push things with the way we play.
“With all the changes we made that was a pretty impressive result.
“All the lads played well and did their bit and it was good.
“Sarries posed a few questions but we adjusted accordingly. They were pretty savvy around the breakdown.
“But our game management was pretty good on the whole and it was probably our best display penalty wise of the season. I don’t think we hit double figures (for penalties).
“All in all it was a pretty good performance.”
Ivybridge II bounced back from two successive defeats with a 31-7 victory against Devonport Services II at the Rectory on Friday night.
Services had a night to forget under the Rectory floodlights and in front of an impressive crowd for a level eight game.
They got on the wrong side of the referee straight away and were penalised time after time.
But Ivybridge were deserved winners. They played better as a team – they were more cohesive – and experienced fly-half Luke Martell controlled the game well with his boot. He ended up kicking 16 points, including 12 points from penalties, and also kicked well from hand.
Martell put over two early penalties as Services struggled to get to grips with the referee.
The visitors went 13-0 in front on 23 minutes when Jake Neville scored in the right corner after two of his team-mates wasted the chance to touch it down before him. Martell added the tough conversion.
Services did make a length-of-the-field break from the restart but were penalised five metres from the try line.
However, they did keep the pressure on and flanker Isiah Akinrowo scored a fine try, which Matt Richards converted.
Both teams were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes in the 31st minute and during that time Ivybridge scored two tries. Hooker Jake Winters went over first from a catch-and-drive move before Neville got his second to put his side 25-7 up at the break.
The second half was more even, but a lot more stop-start. Services thought they had scored at the start of the half but were pulled back for a forward pass.
That was about it for action in the second period until the final six minutes when Martell kicked two more penalties.
In Counties Two Cornwall, leaders Saltash were handed a walkover by Bodmin, while Liskeard-Looe enjoyed their best win for more than three years.
The Lions triumphed 40-0 against Hayle. The last time they had scored more than 40 points in a league game was when they beat Exeter Athletic 43-14 on October 5, 2019.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON
TAMAR Saracens moved back to the top of Devon West with a comfortable 50-7 home victory over Plymstock Albion Oaks II.
Oaks II were able to call on a couple of the Plymouth Fijians who did not have a game and a couple of guest players and they did battle hard, particularly in the first half, but Sarries showed their strength by running in eight tries.
The hosts led 17-0 at half-time. Joe Staniforth got them off the mark in the opening couple of minutes with a good try in the corner.
Adam Corbett then added a second from a catch-and-drive move midway through the half, which Lewis Swatton converted.
Then fellow front-rower Tom Hicklin crossed before half-time.
Hooker Matt Trotter scored early in the second half from another catch-and-drive move to make it 24-0.
But then Sarries lost their way for a little bit and Oaks scored, but that seemed to wake the hosts up and they finished strongly.
Fly-half Scotty Sheldon got a fifth try for them, which Swatton converted, before full-back Frazer Tatchell went over in the corner. Swatton converted that one from the touchline to make it 38-7.
Barry Sheldon, who has returned to Sarries from Techs, then went over from 10 yards to make it 45-7 and the final word went to Chad Smith, who scored under the posts late on.
“It was a good performance, but we were just a bit disappointed about the seven points we conceded,” said Tamar Saracens’ director of rugby Pete Lethbridge.
“It was much better than last week’s performance (against Dartmouth) but it was a dry day this week.
“Fair play to Oaks, they turned up and played and they are not a bad side.”
Plymouth Argaum have moved up to second in the Devon West table after they beat previous leaders Topsham II 34-19 at Bickleigh Down.
Argaum have now won their last eight league and cup games and are only four points off the top. Their impressive win on Saturday came despite missing the likes of Dan Smith, Dan James, Jake Turfrey, Reece Gocher and Owen Gocher.
Centre Jack Morris led the way for Argaum on Saturday with a hat-trick of tries – two in the first half and one in the second.
Preston Wilkins and Adam Walker also touched down in the opening 40 points as Argaum led 24-7 at the break. Three of their tries came in the opening 20 minutes.
“We made a really, really good start,” said Argaum’s head coach Dean Avery. “We got a couple of tries and we blew them away really.
“I think they were certainly shocked at the way we started. It was really, really good and we had a bit of a scratch team as well.
“But the guys that came in stood up and they all played to the systems, kept hold of the ball really well, exited well when we needed to and our line-out and set-pieces went really well. It was a really good performance on Argaum Day.
“There were loads of positives. They (Topsham) were a big side and carried well, but we had the ball and we looked after it really well.”
He added: “Since we lost to Tamar Saracens in the second game of the season I believe we have only dropped one point (away at Techs) so something is going right and long may it continue, but we are certainly not getting carried away.
“We know we have a lot of away games to come – we have to go to the likes of Sarries and Topsham. It is a bit of a cliché but this year is all about building club and getting that ethos.
“I would like to start seeing a team of people who are available week-in and week-out. I think I have probably used 44 or 45 players, which in a way is good, but it would also be nice to be able to pick the same team.
“It does show our depth and we have organised our first second team game on December 10 against Plymouth Renegades. That’s a big milestone that I have wanted this year.”
Sixth-placed Old Techs have lost pace a bit with the top five after they went down 24-7 at fifth-placed Salcombe.
It was their second successive defeat, having narrowly been beaten 11-7 by Argaum seven days earlier.
Nathan Webb, making his first start for the club at blind-side flanker, scored their only try at Salcombe, with Tom Ryan kicking the conversions. Techs once again had to make a host of changes to their side.
In Devon East, OPMs suffered their first defeat of the season as they were beaten 36-8 away at fellow top three side Crediton II.
But OPMs stay top of the table, four points clear, after Cullompton II suffered a second successive defeat, losing away at Okehampton II.
Crediton II are now second and do have a game in hand on the Old Boys.
OPMs had made the long trip to Crediton without star backs Fred and Matt Smale, who are their top two scorers.
Crediton scored unconverted tries in the 23rd and deep in first half injury-time to lead 10-0 at the break.
They went 17-0 up earlier in the second period before OPMs did pull a try back courtesy of Pete Regan, who was playing fly-half in the absence of Matt Smale. He also added the conversion.
But Crediton pulled away in the final 22 minutes with two converted tries and a penalty.
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