FOR THE second game running, Ivybridge suffered late penalty heartache against a title-chasing side in Regional One South West.
Before Christmas they lost 30-29 at home to second-placed Chew Valley after the Somerset club kicked a penalty with the last play of the game.
And on Saturday, they went down 29-26 to leaders Camborne at Cross-in-Hand after the Cornish side’s replacement Declan Simmonds put over a late penalty.
The Bridgers were 26-19 in front going into the closing stages of Saturday’s match, but they had forward Sam Furse sin-binned and Camborne took advantage with a converted Ben Priddey try and then Simmonds’ late kick.
“It was a really tight game,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony. “I imagine it would have been another game that was great to watch for any neutral.
“Considering the conditions there was some great rugby played by both teams.
“I think it could have gone either way, however, towards the end Camborne managed to get on the right side of the referee and if you give Camborne too many penalties that allows them to get possession and territory then they are going to penalise you – and they did that in the last 10 minutes and managed to sneak it by three points.”
Fifth-place Ivybridge had been hammered 78-18 away at Camborne earlier in the season but their form has really picked up in recent months and they have shown in their last two games that they can match the top sides.
Tripcony admitted there were lots of positives from Saturday’s performance.
“There were long periods of the game that we were really pleased with,” he said. “We looked sharp, especially after a few weeks off. Our intensity and commitment to our defensive systems was outstanding for long periods.
“Our scrum functioned, but towards the end we were down a man in the scrum and we coughed up a little bit of ball there.
“There’s a lot of things going right for us, but when you are in the top two things go your way a little bit.
“The main thing for us is that we take the positives forward and we learn from our work-on areas, which I’m sure the guys will do.
“But I couldn’t fault the effort of the guys. I thought the intensity that we played at was very, very good.
“I thought for 70 minutes, the control that we had and the pressure we applied was outstanding.
“We just have to try and change our fortunes a little bit and that’s only going to come from hard work.”
Camborne went in front early with a converted try from Jordan Sidewell.
But Ivybridge responded with a try from young centre Kristian Davis.
Matt Grieveson could not add the conversion, but he did kick a penalty not long later to put Ivybridge 8-7 ahead.
Visiting scrum-half Liam Jolly crossed the whitewash to restore Camborne’s lead, but Grieveson kicked a penalty just before the break to make it a one-point game at half-time.
Ivybridge started the second half well and went 21-12 ahead. Grieveson kicked a penalty before Ben Watts went over for a converted try.
Priddey cut the home side’s lead to two points with a converted try, but back came Ivybridge with an unconverted try by Tom Scoles.
The hosts missed a penalty and a drop-goal attempt at 26-19 ahead before Camborne’s late comeback.
Fourth-placed Devonport Services also suffered late agony as they were surprisingly beaten 24-20 by second-from-bottom Okehampton at the Rectory.
It was only Services’ second home defeat since April 2019 when Okehampton last beat them in a league game.
Okehampton’s experienced scrum-half Richard Bolt scored the winning try with a minute to go.
Devonport still had one more chance after Okehampton were penalised after scoring and Services got the penalty on the halfway. They went for the corner, but messed the line-out up.
“We weren’t very good,” admitted Services head coach Ben Russell. “They (Okehampton) managed the game better.
“We came back and were leading 20-17 but just slipped off and they scored with a breakaway when we didn’t look in trouble.
“It was one of those games that we should have won but didn’t.”
He added: “To be honest, Okehampton deserved it as they kept on plugging away, while we just kept on making too many mistakes and letting them back in to the right areas.
“It was hugely disappointing. I said to the boys that it is one that doesn’t sit very well at all. I think this one hurts the most.
“We didn’t manage the game well. We didn’t play in the right areas – we tried to play too much in our own half.”
Services already missing the likes of Matt Gregory, Dylan Daley, Tom Richards, Greg Thomas, James Hocking and Mike Hunt, were not helped by losing scrum-half Oli Mulberry early on to a head injury which left them without a specialist nine. Aiden Taylor also lasted just 10 minutes of his home debut before pulling his hamstring after coming on as a replacement and fellow forward Liam Jarvis ended up with a split eye.
But the hosts, trying to get over their heavy defeat to Brixham before Christmas, did start quite well and had plenty of pressure in the opening 10 minutes before Okehampton broke away and scored through hooker Nathan Tompkins, which Dan Fogerty converted.
Services did level the match on 34 minutes when second-row Matt Scott, on his return to the first team, scored and Kieran Down converted.
But from the restart Services did not clear their lines and controversially conceded a five-metre scrum. Although Devonport initially defended the set-piece Okehampton kept up the pressure and prop Tom White eventually crossed for a try that gave the hosts a 14-7 half-time lead.
Fogerty then kicked a penalty after the interval to make it 17-7 to the visitors before Devonport got going a bit.
Down kicked two penalties to close the gap to 17-13 and then he scored a fine try that he also converted to put his team 20-17 ahead.
Services should have gone on from there and seen the game iff, but they didn’t and in the closing stages Saul Holliay broke for Okehampton before off-loading to Bolt to score the winning try.
COUNTIES ONE WESTERN WEST
PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks endured another unhappy trip to north Cornwall club Bude on Saturday.
Oaks lost 29-14 at Bencoolen Meadow, which continued their terrible record away at Bude.
It is a place where Oaks have never been able to win and the weather and availability problems did not help them on Saturday.
They made the trip north without a number of key players, including backs Corey Jamieson and Lewis Paterson.
And they made a poor start in the awkward conditions, going down 21-0 in the first half.
They did make a game of it in the second half with two tries by full-back Alex Chapman, but they then had forward Andy Porter sin-binned which allowed Bude to get back on the front foot and score a fourth try.
Bude’s bonus-point win has lifted them above Oaks in the table and the Cornish club, who are now eighth, also have two games in hand.
The defeat does leave Oaks looking over their shoulders again. They have dropped down to fourth-from-bottom and both Kingsbridge and Paignton, who are in the two slots below them, do have games in hand.
And it does not get any easy for Plymstock as next weekend they have to travel to leaders Cullompton.
TAVISTOCK have moved 11 points clear at the top of Counties Two Devon after a tense, hard-earned 8-7 victory over second-placed Torquay Athletic in tricky conditions at Sandy Park.
The match had to be moved to Tavistock’s sloping second team pitch and both sides struggled to really get going in the conditions.
Both teams still tried to play quite an expansive game but they both found it hard to keep hold of the wet ball for any length of time and in the end the game came down to a charge down kick and a missed penalty.
It might not have been particularly pretty or convincing, but Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy was not too bothered.
“It’s a win – it’s four points – and puts us 11 clear of them,” he said.
“I’m happy as we won and did what we set out to do. We might not have done it the way we would have liked to have done it, but sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan.”
He added: “The weather probably evened it out a tad and they are second in the league so they are no slouches.
“As a coach it was pretty tense to stand on the sideline, but we gutted it out.
“Our game management was pretty good, but when Schuey (Andrew Schuttkacker) went off (after picking up a yellow card) we lost our way a tad and should have just kept it a bit tighter.”
He added: “It was hard going under foot, but the pitch held up pretty well considering.
“But we literally had four seasons in one during game. One minute it was sunny with no wind, then we would have wind with then sun, but then it was chucking it down and windy.
“They fluffed a few chances and so did we. A couple of times lads made strange decisions – running sideways when they would have been better looking for some of the big lads to set up a phase from that, but it’s a win.”
Torquay did have a chance to win it with a difficult, long-range late penalty from out on the left, but the kick went well wide.
“It looked like he had over-allowed for the wind, but the wind didn’t pick up like he thought it was going to do and it just kept going,” said Caddy. “It was a silly penalty, but sometimes you have to ride your luck.”
Tavistock, playing downhill first half, struggled to put anything together in the opening 30 minutes, although George Hillson did kick a penalty on 10 minutes to put his side ahead.
Torquay had plenty of ball and territory in the opening half-an-hour but never really threatened the try line.
Tavistock did finish the half strongly but the visitors defended well and the so the hosts only took a narrow 3-0 lead into the second period.
At the start of the second half the heavens opened and the wind picked up considerably.
Tavistock were playing into the elements but they got a stroke of luck in the 47th minute. They got a penalty and went for the corner but the ball didn’t go out and Torquay gathered it, but Tavistock charged down their attempted clearing kick and replacement Schuttkacker picked the ball up and scored in the left corner.
The game lost its way for a bit after that with the weather making it difficult, but in the closing stages Torquay suddenly got some momentum, which led to Tavistock having Schuttkacker yellow carded in the 69th minute.
Three minutes after he went off, the visitors scored from a scrum through replacement Isaac Fahey and Morgan Penrice added the conversion.
A minute from time, the Tics did get a penalty at a scrum out wide on the left. They did go for the kick but it never came close and Tavistock defended the drop-out well to claim the four points.
Fifth-placed Ivybridge II came unstuck in tough conditions away at second-from-bottom North Tawton, who triumphed 20-17.
Ivybridge had been 17-8 up early in the second half but North Tawton, who have been boosted by the return of Gary Sizmur and Tom Chisholm, hit back to claim the win.
Devonport Services II were left without a match after their game away at Brixham II was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
In Counties Two Cornwall, Saltash were handed a league and cup walkover by neighbours Liskeard-Looe but the sides did play a friendly at Lux Park.
The Ashes loaned Liskeard a few players to make up the numbers so that Saltash could have a run-out having not played a league game in a month.
Saltash ended up winning 85-0 but they felt it was a good work-out in difficult conditions.
COUNTIES THREE DEVON AND CLUB GAMES
TAMAR Saracens remain at the top of Devon West after they beat bottom side Totnes 41-0 at a muddy Parkway on Saturday.
Sarries officials Dan Leeson and Pete Lethbridge had spent all Saturday morning working on the pitch to make sure the game got played.
Both sides were keen to get the game on, even though Totnes only had 14 players and Sarries did not have a regular goalkicker.
In the end, Sarries ran in seven tries – four in the first half and three in the second.
“It was a good work-out after not playing for a month,” said director of rugby Lethbridge.
“It was a game we needed to play and it was a good game.
“Totnes game us a good game to be fair. They are a well-spirited team. They just need a few more players.”
Ryan Currie got Sarries off the mark with a try down the wing after good play by Frazer Tatchell.
Hooker Adam Corbett then scored under the posts and Greg Parrott added the conversion.
Chad Smith, who ended up playing on the wing, and scrum-half Jacob Blasdale added further touch-downs before the break to give their side a 24-0 lead.
Matt Trotter added a fifth 10 minutes after the interval before prop James Barlow scored his first try in three years at the club. Centre Parrott then finished off the scoring in the corner.
But there was disappointment for Old Techs who suffered a sixth consecutive defeat as they were narrowly beaten 18-12 at home by in-form Dartmouth.
Dartmouth have now won six in a row and have closed to within three points of sixth-placed Techs, who have lost three of their last five games by just one score.
“We have had so many games that we could have won, but haven’t and we just have to somehow get back to winning ways,” said chairman David Evans.
“To be fair, they (Dartmouth) have improved a lot since we last played them and there are no excuses from us; we just failed to capitalise on the wind when we had it and just weren’t clinical in the red zone. We also gave away too many penalties.”
In the end it was two penalty kicks that proved the difference in the teams as both scored two tries apiece.
Playing against the wind, Techs trailed 15-7 at half-time, with Ben Hockey crossing for the home side’s first half try, which Tom Ryan converted.
After the interval, Techs closed the gap to three points with a debut try from 29 Commando Harry Nurhonen after Hockey had kicked the ball through.
But a late penalty sealed the win for Dartmouth.
In the same division, Plymstock Albion Oaks II were beaten 61-7 at home by Paignton II.
OPMs had to dig deep in horrible conditions at Torrington to triumphed 11-8 and maintain their lead at the top of Devon East.
Just before kick-off there was a hail storm and in the second half there was heavy rain and the wind really picked up to make it difficult to put any phases together.
OPMs had gone 11-5 up in the first half with two Matt Smale penalties and a try by James Robinson.
But the conditions favoured Torrington in second period and they closed to within three points but OPMs managed to hold on for a crucial four points.
The Old Boys are four points clear of second-placed Credition II, who do have a game in hand but who still have to visit King George V Playing Fields.
Plymouth Argaum and Plympton Victoria were not in league action at the weekend but they played a friendly at St Mary’s which the Argaum XV won 37-7.
The game was level at 7-7 at half-time but Argaum, who used the game to have a look at squad players and new players, pulled away in the second period.
Jamie Fellows, Mike Rodriguez, Steve Reeves, Owen Gocher, Adam McCrohan and Isaac Honey scored tries for Argaum, with Jordan Blair scoring a try and conversion for Plym Vic.
“We did exceptionally well in the first half,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “We played some belting rugby.
“But early in the second half they got a couple of tries and our heads dropped a little bit and some of their subs were just a step up in class and just showed that separation in the leagues.
“But it was better than when we played them at the start of the season.”
Argaum’s head coach Dean Avery said: “It was a great day for us as a club and it was a game played in good spirits and well refereed.
“It was an opportunity for us to play some fringe players and others who have not had an opportunity yet this season.”
That match was part of a double-header at St Mary’s on Saturday with the Plymouth Dolphins beating Cardiff Lions 12-5 in the UK IGR Southern Development Division.
In the Devon Merit Table, Tavistock II were narrowly beaten 22-19 away at Torquay Athletic II, while the game between OPM Jesters and Saltash II was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
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