RUGBY PREVIEWS: Ivybridge look to bounce back with long road trip

IVYBRIDGE face a long and tricky trip on Saturday when they head to the Forest of Dean to take on Lydney in Regional One South West.

The Bridgers sit in fifth place, but Lydney are in seventh, nine points behind with three games in hand, so this weekend’s game could go a long way to deciding the top six finishers.

Ivybridge were disappointed last weekend to lose 41-25 away at Okehampton. That was their first away defeat since the start of November.

Director of rugby Jamie Tripcony felt the team did not show a true reflection of themselves at the Showground and so he is hoping they can correct that this weekend.

“We have to make sure we try and get it right this weekend,” he said.

“Lydney away on what was supposed to be a gap weekend will shake up any team’s availability, but every club is in the same scenario.

“We’ll just prepare as well as we can for a very tough away game in the Forest of Dean.”

Ivybridge have not visited Lydney for five-and-a-half years, but they did win of their last trip Regent Street, triumphing 19-10.

In Counties Two Cornwall, Saltash have been handed yet another walkover this weekend.

They should have been travelling to ninth-placed Helston, but their opponents have handed them the points.

It is the Ashes’ fourth walkover since mid-November and it not the ideal preparation for next weekend’s big match with title-rivals St Ives.

The five points they will get for the walkover does lift them back up to second in the table ahead of next Saturday’s crucial top-of-the-table fixture.

Meanwhile, Liskeard-Looe are due to travel to Camborne School of Mines on Saturday.

In Counties Two Devon, Devonport Services II are due to visit Brixham II.

Ninth-placed Services will be keen for the win to move clear of the bottom three.

Brixham II are second-from-bottom, 10 points behind Devonport’s second string, who have been struggling for front-row players.

When the sides met at the Rectory at the start of October, Services II narrowly won 24-22.

Whereas there might not be many matches in some divisions, there is almost a full programme in Counties Three Devon West.

And it could be a crucial weekend in the title race, with leaders Plymouth Argaum and second-placed Tamar Saracens both on the road to south Devon.

Argaum, who are two points clear at the top, face eighth-placed Paignton II, while Sarries head to fourth-placed Newton Abbot II.

Paignton’s first team are in action, but the worry for Sarries is that Newton Abbot’s first team don’t have a game.

“We just want to make sure it is a fair contest,” said Tamar Saracens’ head coach Mike Lewis, who was frustrated the match was postponed previously. “There is a little bit on the line now. It would not really matter so much if we were both mid-table.

“But to be fair, they are still doing well. They are only about six or seven points behind us, although I think we have a game in hand over them.”

Lewis is hoping his team can produced another display like last weekend when they put 62 unanswered points on Teignmouth II.

“We played phenomenally well last week – the best rugby we have played all season,” said Lewis. “It all came together for 60 minutes of the game and we looked fantastic.

“Watching it back on the video was so rewarding. The style and the brand of rugby we are trying to play just all came together last week.

“It was just a good watch and all the boys really enjoyed it as well.

“Teignmouth did have a few fringe players and you could tell the players that had dropped down as they were head and shoulders above the rest, but we still nullified them. We kept them to zero, which was such a great achievement.”

Sarries are without Josh Heath, Greg Parrott and Rhys Garbutt but they could include a couple of recent signings, including Steve Moran.

Argaum put 101 points on Plymstock Albion Oaks II last week and are unbeaten since the second week of the season.

They will be big favourites at Paignton II on Saturday, but head coach Dean Avery is not taking anything for granted.

“We are the in-form team and the team that everyone wants to beat,” he said.

“Martin Worthington is the head coach at Paignton and I was coaching with him before at Brixham. I know him well and he will have them well-drilled.

Argaum hope to have Billy Stockwell back after missing last week’s game, but centre Jack Morris is set to be missing.

Old Techs did both Argaum and Sarries a favour last weekend by beating fellow title-chasers Topsham II 25-0. They will be hoping to build on that win when they visit Teignmouth II.

“We were really pleased last week, especially to nil them,” said Shaun Bedford-Smith.

“They were second in the league and had scored the most number of points away from home and the most number of bonus points, but when we are on it, we are on it.

“In the first 20 minutes they were in our 22 a lot but we did not let them through. If they had scored early doors that would have changed it, but we kept the out. Our defence won us the game. We then got the first try and did not look back.

“We just want to build on that performance now. Everyone played well last week and when that happens we can pull off these results.

“We have set a few little targets now. We are mid-table and so are not going to get promoted but we just have to go out and enjoy it and let the results take care of themselves.

“If we go up to Teignmouth and lose then it would take the shine off last week , but we know it won’t be an easy game up there.”

James Douglas is still missing for Techs, while Nathan Webb injured his shoulder last week, but the Weston Mill club should have a few players back, including Jack Courtney and Eddie Ramazani.

In the Devon Merit Table, Plympton Victoria are expecting a good contest away at old rivals Saltash II.

“We are looking forward to it,” said Plym Vic’s Chris Hunt. “It should be an interesting game. It is normally nip-and-tuck when we play them.

“We are just looking to build on a good season so far.”

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