RUGBY PREVIEWS: Services look to try and topple new leaders, while Ivybridge hit the road again

AFTER toppling one team of the summit of Regional One South West last weekend, Devonport Services will be looking to do the same this Saturday.

They dug deep in horrible conditions last weekend to see off Chew Valley 16-10 at home.

Services’ win allowed Camborne to return to the top of the division and they will be Devonport’s opponents this Saturday.

Services head over the Tamar into Cornwall hoping to not only stay third in the table but also to gain revenge for a 35-27 loss which ended their three-year unbeaten home record.

“We would like to say that we owe them one, which we do,” said Services head coach Ben Russell.

“The last time we played them we did leave so many opportunities out there.”

He added: “We know what they are going to bring. They have some nice backs and move the ball really well and their forwards try to dominate teams.

“We are a bit light this week, especially in the back-row, but we will just see what the day brings.”

Russell was delighted with the way his team battled last weekend against Chew Valley.

“To be honest, the weather played into our hands last week,” he said. “I think we would have beaten anyone last week as they boys just stepped up physically and just kept hitting people.

“The boys really fronted up last week. I said we needed a physical performance and they did that.”

Russell is hoping for another spirited display in Cornwall, but Services will have to make a few changes to their team.

Captain Matt Gregory is unavailable, as his fly-half Kieran Downs, who impressed last week, and full-back Rhys Williams, who can’t travel due to work.

James Hocking, Tyler Busfield, Mike Hunt and Greg Thomas are also likely to still be missing with injuries.

However, the better news for Services is that centre Shaun Crawford is back fit after injury.

Sixth-placed Ivybridge will be looking to build on last week’s first away win of the season when they travel to Weston-super-Mare.

The Bridgers overcame Drybrook 16-12 last Saturday and director of rugby Jamie Tripcony is hoping his team can produce another good away display against a Weston side who sit just two places and three points behind them in the table.

“Weston-super-Mare away is a tough place to go,” said Tripcony.

“Every away game in this league in tough and you have to be really on your money to get any kind of points.

“But we’ll take confidence from winning two games on the bounce and hopefully we can build some more momentum.”

Weston-super-Mare have won four out of six of their home matches this season. Their only defeats on their own soil have come against Devonport Services and Brixham.

Ivybridge have beaten Drybrook and Services in their last two matches and another win this weekend could move them up to fifth.

The Bridgers are able to welcome back Tom Scoles and Ben Mallet after missing last week’s game, while prop James McFarlane could make his debut for them after been named among their replacements. McFarlane has featured for Devonport Services this season.


PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks face a massive match this weekend when they host Kingsbridge at Horsham Fields in Western West.

Oaks have lost their last six matches to fall into the bottom two, but Kingsbridge have lost five of their last six games to drop down to eighth – just five points above Oaks.

Kingsbridge, who are believed to be struggling for player availability, have not won away since September so Oaks will be hopeful that they can get a much-needed victory.

Plymstock will feel they owe a good performance against Kingsbridge after losing 59-15 away at High House in the second game of the season.

A win could lift Oaks out of the bottom four and give them confidence ahead of other crucial games against Paignton, Penryn and Bude.


TAVISTOCK will start the second half of the Counties Two Devon season with an eight-point lead at the top of the table.

And they will be looking to at least keep that cushion when they host seventh-placed South Molton at Sandy Park on Saturday.

South Molton have been somewhat inconsistent this season. They have claimed some notable wins, like away at Withycombe an a 45-8 victoy against Exeter Saracens, but have also lost a couple of games heavily.

Tavistock, though, will be wary of them after the sides played out a hard-fought game at Unicorn Park at the start of the season, which the visitors won 31-24.

“They will be a decent,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy. “They are one of the better sides we have played so far.

“I think they felt they could have won up at their place.”

He added: “Apparently our pitch isn’t too bad and the weather forecast isn’t too bad so hopefully it should be good for running rugby.”

Tavistock are set to welcome back Jake Le Gassick, Dan Redstone, Hammy Kerswill and Seb Cox to their squad after missing last week’s game, while Jack Osborne is set to get a start, but they will be without Conor Packwood and Ethan Lamerton.

Tavistock will be hoping Devonport Services II can do them a favour and upset third-placed Honiton at the Rectory.

Services II’s need a win after three successive defeats have dropped them into the bottom three.

They are expected to have a stronger team out than in recent weeks and Rhys Williams could feature for them as he is unable to travel to Camborne with the first team due to work commitments.

Sixth-placed Ivybridge II could continue their rise up the table if they beat Barnstaple II at Cross-in-Hand.

Barnstaple are just one point and one place above the Bridgers, who are also just five points behind fourth-placed Withycombe.

In Counties Two Cornwall, second-placed Saltash face a third successive away trip when they visit struggling Hayle.

The Ashes have had a tough few weeks with back-to-back trips to St Ives and St Austell.

But they will be looking for another five points to keep the pressure on title rivals St Ives.

Hayle have had a tough first half of the season and sit bottom of the table without a win to their name.

Saltash did beat them 74-0 at Moorlands Lane in the second match of the campaign.

Liskeard-Looe could do Saltash a favour if they could surprise third-placed Veor on Saturday.

Veor might have lost to Saltash and St Ives, but they are still hanging on to their coattails in the standings.


THERE will be plenty at stake in Devon West on Saturday when Tamar Saracens host city rivals Plymouth Argaum.

The teams sit first and second in the table and if second-placed Argaum were to win it would really put the pressure on Sarries, who have played a game more than their visitors.

But it is not just about the league standings this weekend; it is also about local pride.

Over the last couple of seasons Sarries have made a habit of winning their derby matches and they have continued that so far this term. They beat Old Techs 14-10 last weekend and beat Argaum 40-28 when the sides met in the second match of the season.

“It is going to be an interesting fixture,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery. “We are looking forward to going down to Sarries and seeing where we are and where we have come from since the start of the season.

“That last fixture was quite close, but in the end they beat us quite convincingly.

“It’s a derby and it is about who wants it most on the day. We have got the players and the systems in place, but it is about who wants it most.”

Argaum were frustrated last week when their game with Paignton II’s was postponed. They felt Paignton could have let them know earlier so that they could have switched the game to Roborough Down and then reserved the fixture later in the season.

Argaum hope to have a strong team out, although they are without Dave Clack, Adam Griffiths, Cheyenne Edwards, Gideon Berends and Dan Bolt.

Saracens head coach Mike Lewis said ahead of the derby match: “They (Argaum) weren’t a bad side in that game at the start of the season. We got a fortunate few breaks and just had a bit of quality in some areas on the day.

“We know they will have a slightly different team as they have signed quite a few players. I think they have a second team coming up, so they are doing really well in terms of building a squad and making sure they have strength in depth.

“Yes, it was early on in their development when we played them last time, but so it was with us as well, and so we are both in a similar position.

“We are hoping that we can get on top of our game-plan quite early.

“But it’s another derby and they will be wanting revenge from the previous game and we will be wanting to push on just that little bit more.

“This is the first game of the second half of the season and we are hoping to mimic the first half.”

Sarries have suffered a bit of a blow by losing powerful back Reece Boase for the rest of the season after he was offered a contract by Cornwall RLFC after a recent trial. But they have recently signed former Devonport Services and Penryn forward Nathan Trower, who made his debut last weekend against Old Techs.

Techs have a tough trip to Newton Abbot II on Saturday and are struggling for players after picking up a number of injuries in last weekend’s tough match against Tamar Saracens.

“We just seem to be picking up injuries again every week at the moment,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “I think we picked up three or four last week.

“Newton Abbot lost against Dartmouth last week but they are likely to be stronger at home.

“We have had a tough run of games recently and also got Teignmouth before the end of the year.

“We have played well against the top teams and nearly always been within a score so we are not too down beat. We just need a bit of consistency with players and get a few back from injury.”

In Devon East, OPMs have been handed a second successive home walkover.

Last weekend, Cullompton II forfeited their match against them and now New Cross have done the same.

The five points they have collected means that they do go back to the top of the table for at least 24 hours. Crediton II will be able to overtake them on Saturday if they pick up a full five points against Buckfastleigh.

OPMs second team are due to play Saltash II in the Devon Merit Table, while Tavistock II’s are set to host the University of Plymouth at Sandy Park.

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