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RUGBY REPORTS: Crucial wins for Ivybridge, Oaks and Argaum, but heartbreaking draw for Saltash

IVYBRIDGE scored a last-gasp driving maul try to secure a thrilling 31-30 home victory over in-form Launceston at Cross-in-Hand on Saturday in Regional One South West.

In their previous three home games, the Bridgers had been denied late on against top three sides Brixham, Camborne and Chew Valley.

They lost 25-24 to Brixham, 29-26 to Camborne and 30-29 to Chew Valley, who the latter two sides kicking last-gasp penalties to win.

So Ivybridge were delighted to finally win a home match at the death.

“We’re very pleased as we felt we had done enough to win the game,” said director of rugby Jamie Tripcony, a former Launceston player.

“The guys played really well and stuck at it.

“It was difficult at times – I think we made it difficult for ourselves at times – but the guys pulled through and that was the most important thing.”

On his side’s late winner, he said: “We stuck it in the corner with the last play of the game and managed to get over in the corner from a rolling maul.

“We felt in the previous games (Chew, Camborne and Brixham) that at times we had done enough to win those games, but it doesn’t always go your way so it was absolutely key that we were able to get on the right side of the result this time.

“We just talked a lot in the week about how we were just desperate for a result. We need to prove something to ourselves and our great support and we did do that.

“There’s going to be more close games before the end of the season so to be able to get on the right side of a result was important for our run-in.”

Launceston had taken an early lead with a converted try, but Ivybridge hit back with a touch-down by centre Kristian Davis.

Dan Pearce then kicked two penalties for the visitors who went 13-5 ahead before a converted try by Adam Northcott cut that lead to just one point at the break.

After the interval, Pearce put over another three-pointer before Ivybridge took the lead for the first time with a converted try by Sam Furse.

However, in a tit-for-tat game, Launceston came back with a converted try to go 23-19 ahead.

Ivybridge missed a penalty on 50 minutes before they did go back in front with a try by scrum-half Ben Watts, which Matt Grieveson converted. That put Ivybridge 26-23 ahead.

But another converted try by the Cornish All Blacks edged them one point ahead and it looked like it could be another heartbreaker for the Bridgers, but with time virtually up they got one more chance and took it, with prop Matt Finn getting over in the corner from a catch-and-drive move.

Fifth-placed Ivybridge will make the short trip to the Rectory next weekend when they visit fourth-placed Devonport Services.

Services will go into that match on the back of a Devon derby defeat. They went down 35-23 away at Exmouth on Saturday.

The first quarter of the game at the Imperial Ground was a tight affair, with Exmouth just edging it 8-6. Richard West kicked two early penalties for Services.

But Exmouth scored two tries in eight minutes just before half-time to take a 18-6 lead at the interval.

The hosts extended that to 25-6 after the break before Joe Daley pulled a try back for Devonport.

Exmouth went 35-13 ahead but Services finished strongly with tries by Kieran Down and Luke Stannard, but frustratingly they could not get a fourth to secure two bonus points.

Services’ head coach Ben Russell said: “Exmouth play a good brand of rugby and it was quite an expansive game. Both teams were trying to play in the right areas and throw the ball around a bit.

“But we conceded 17 points in the second half when we were in possession. We threw an intercept, knocked on in contact and another we just dropped the ball and they scored three tries.

“It’s frustrating that we have come away with no points as we couldn’t get the fourth try.

“But we are still fourth and for a team that has just come up and who don’t pay anyone we are doing pretty well.”


PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks boosted their hopes of staying in Western West with a massive 60-19 home win over fifth-placed Bideford on Saturday.

It was Oaks’ biggest win of the season and ended a five-game losing run. It has also moved them out of the bottom three, although Bude and Paignton below then do have games in hand.

Bideford, who have struggled a bit away from home this season, did actually take the lead at Horsham Fields on Saturday, but once Oaks got going they did not look back.

They led 29-5 at half-time and then increased that to 60-5 in the second half, before Bideford scored two late tries.

Oaks’ team manager Mark Lenthall said: “We know we have the players, but we just haven’t had the availability, however, we had a decent side out this weekend.

“We had plenty of good scrum and line-out ball which just allowed our backs to do stuff and our backs really cut them to pieces.

“Every one of our backs, apart from the scrum-half, scored tries. In fact, all our tries came from backs, apart from one.

“We played some really good rugby in dry conditions.

“We played them off the park and they didn’t come down with a bad side. It was good – everything just stuck for us.

“We know what we can do – it is just about player availability.”

Lewis Paterson and Matt Jackson both scored two tries for Oaks, with Scott Williams, Kyle Browne, Corey Jaimeson and forward Ben Ross also touching down. For Ross it was his first senior try.


LEADERS Tavistock suffered only their second defeat of the season as they were beaten 26-10 away at in-form Barnstaple II.

With second-placed Torquay Athletic beating Ivybridge II 35-24, it means Tavistock’s lead at the top is down to 12 points and the Tics do have a game in hand.

Tavistock did travel to north Devon without key players like George Hillson, Andrew Schuttkacker, Martin Budden, Toby Teague and Joe Burbage and head coach Joel Caddy admitted his team just did not really get going on Saturday.

“Barnstaple played well, but we were our own worst enermy at times,” he said.

“We did score two really good tries, but we fluffed up a few near the line by trying off-loads and stuff.

“We also weren’t precise at the breakdown.

“There were some decent performances from players but as a team as a whole we made some silly mistakes that we’ve not done this season.

“The gap is down to 12 points and they (Torquay) do have a game in hand, so who knows, it could go down the the wire if we are not careful.

“But you are not going to win every single game and maybe this might do us a favour in a strange way. Maybe the lads have had their eyes open now.

“We have Exeter Saracens up next and we have to target that one. If we can win that, it puts the pressure back on.”

Winger Ed Tait scored for Tavistock in the first half from the back of a maul as they trailed 21-5 at the break and in the second half Ethan Lamerton added another from a good move that was off the training ground.

Meanwhile, Devonport Services II have continued their move up the table with a 23-17 home win over Withycombe, who had started the day in third place.

Services II were boosted by having Dylan Daley, Tyler Busfield and Greg Thomas in their second team squad.


A CONVERTED try with the last play of the game broke Saltash’s hearts as they were forced to settle for a 10-10 draw with unbeaten leaders St Ives on Saturday at Moorlands Lane.

Saltash knew they really needed a bonus-point win to have any real hope of catching the Saints in the Counties Two Cornwall title race.

The Ashes certainly had enough chances to score four tries, particularly in the first half where they dominated playing uphill.

But handling errors just let them down at crucial times and St Ives managed to stay in the game and sneaked a draw right at the death, which even many of the visiting supporters felt they didn’t deserve.

The Hakes knew they did not have to take any risks and so were quite tight and defensive.

If Saltash had been able to take a couple more of their chances in the first half, then the Saints might have been forced to play more attacking rugby and the game might have opened up.

But now Saltash’s title hopes appear to be over, despite only losing one match all season. They know they need St Ives to lose two of their remaining three games and not pick up any bonus points.

“It’s not quite over,” said Saltash assistant head coach Albert Hall. “They do have to play Veor and St Austell away, but I can’t see them dropping 10 points. They will probably do what they did to us and go with a game-plan to control the game. They know they don’t have to win, but just keep it close.”

He added: “We worked out fairly early on that they were more interested in keeping the game close and nicking the point off us as they knew that was all they really needed.

“In the first half we should have put that game to bed, but we didn’t. We had a few knock-ons and dropped balls and we turned around just 5-0 up when we should have been two or three scores up. I think that is what cost us.

“In the second half they managed their possession well. In the last 10 minutes they knew they didn’t need to score – they just need to keep us up that end, which is what they did. They kept it and eventually they got a try out of it.

“I thought we were the better side in attack, but we weren’t clinical and if you are not clinical against sides like this then they will punish you – and they did.”

Saltash, without key players Lewis Wells, Will Morton and Ryan Rayner on Saturday, needed one of their three kicks at goal – a penalty and two conversion attempts – to go over, but they didn’t.

Missed kicks also cost them away at St Ives and in their away draw with Veor.

“Had we had those five points at Veor then would have been a different story this weekend as they (St Ives) would have had to play differently,” said Hall.

Saltash started the season on fire but since the end of October they have only played six league games in three-and-a-half months due to walkovers and blank weekends and they have lost momentum.

“We’ve just not been quite firing,” admitted Hall. “We are playing well, but just not quite good enough and I think partly that is to do with this league where one week you play a game like this where the intensity is there and it is 80 minutes of hard rugby, but another game it will be done and dusted after 20 minutes. There have been a lot of cricket scores and you don’t gain anything for that. It’s not been a great league.”

In front of a big crowd, Saltash came out really fired up and took the game to St Ives.

In the sixth minute they got a penalty and went for goal, but Lewis Stuart’s effort just missed.

They then got a couple more penalties in the Hakes’ half but went for the corner but could not make the opportunities tell.

They were ruled to have been held up over the line in the 13th minutes from a good maul.

But a minute later they did finally score. They ran back St Ives’ drop-out well and Greg Eatwell and Danny Snook did well down the right to make ground before the ball was off-loaded to centre Sam Snell, who easily shrugged off a tackle to score.

The Ashes missed the tough conversion and then minutes later full-back Ryan Cruickshanks was just stopped short after a great break.

They had other great chances, but they just dropped the ball too many times at crucial moments and only went in 5-0 up.

They did go 10-0 up early in the second with a great try by Cruickshanks on the right. It came after they threw the ball quickly across the line from a line-out on the left.

They then had great chance to score another try four minutes later on the opposite side but just knocked on 10 metres out.

But then suddenly Saltash got on the wrong side of the referee a bit as St Ives started to frustrate them.

Devon Bennett-Murray was sin-binned in the 53rd minute and Adam Harris kicked the resultant penalty to make it a one-score game.

That seemed to encourage the St Ives who knew that they only really needed the bonus point.

The visitors then got penalty after penalty and just kept taking scrums to run the clock down.

It just when it looked like Saltash were going to hold on for the win, but deep in injury-time they had prop Ben Simmons yellow carded and three minutes later – in the seventh minute of added-on time and with the last play – Saints scored from close range next to the post through replacement prop Nick Prout. Harris then had the simple task of adding the conversion, which led to mass celebrations by the visiting players and supporters.


IT IS looking like it is going to take something special to deny Plymouth Argaum the Devon West title after they hammered city rivals Old Techs 68-7 at Bickleigh Down on Saturday.

Sixth-placed Techs, who had beaten second-placed Topsham 25-0 recently, never normally lose by many and they had pushed Argaum to the wire at home before narrowly going down 11-7.

But they were missing a lot of players on Saturday and Argaum punished them for nearly every mistake.

Argaum are now on such a massive roll that their momentum is going to take some stopping.

They have not lost since the second game of the season and have scored more than 220 in just their last three games.

“It was another great result from the guys,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery. “They really stuck to the game-plan.

“Our guys broke them (Techs) down. We managed to pin them down in their half first half and made them play out and they made mistakes and we capitalised on them.

“It goes to show what we are building and how the players are committing to the game-plan.”

Argaum were 26-0 up at half-time thanks to tries by Darren Ewers, Adam McCrohan, Owen Gocher and Billy Stockwell.

After the interval, Techs were awarded a penalty try to cut the gap to 26-7 but Argaum soon got going again and Chris Perkins, James Green (2), Jack Morris and Tom Holliday (2) added further tries.

Techs chairman David Evans said: “It was disappointing, but we never rolled over. It was just a case of when their backs got it they did damage. We just have to concede they were better than us on the day.

“We just struggle for availability. Every week we are having to make lots of changes.

“But we have three league games left – Salcombe, Tamar Sarries and Totnes – and we just need to target these games.”

Tamar Saracens remain in third place after they beat in-form Dartmouth 12-5 at the Parkway.

However, missing out on the bonus point means they are now eight points behind Argaum, with four games to go.

Sarries looked on course to get the bonus point when they scored two tries in the opening 20 minutes courtesy of Ryan Deacon and James Barlow, with Lewis Swatton converting the first.

But they were not able to add to those 12 points in the rest of the game.

“It was a win and it was a tough game,” said Sarries’ director of rugby Pete Lethbridge.

“The first 20 minutes we were outstanding. We know Dartmouth are a strong side, but we just went off the boil in the second 20 minutes of the first half.

“And in the second half we imploded a bit and did not play any of our systems or patterns.

“But we’ll take the four points. We can’t be too disappointed as we won. It was a hard game, to be fair.”

Elsewhere in the division, second-from-bottom Plymstock Albion Oaks II lost 19-0 away at Salcombe.

In Counties Three Devon East, OPMs received a massive boost to their title hopes with Okehampton II beating Crediton II.

OPMs had been handed a walkover which took them ahead of Crediton II before Saturday’s games kicked off. But with Crediton II losing, OPMs now lead by four points. They have played a game more than Crediton, but that could be wiped out this coming weekend if OPMs can beat Crediton at King George V Playing Fields in a title-decider.

OPMs know now that if they can win their remaining three matches, two of which are at home, they will be crowned champions and secure promotion.

After getting let down by Buckfastleigh at the weekend, OPMs were able to arrange a friendly match with the Peninsula Medical School, which the Old Boys won 54-14.

OPMs had led 33-0 at half-time thanks to tries by Ethan Millard, Billy Garratt, Fred Smale, Jake Aquilina and Matt Smale, who also added four conversions.

After the interval, Garratt, James Robinson and Adam Jarrod added further touch-downs.

OPMs’ second team – the Jesters – also won on Saturday. They beat Torquay Athletic II at home.

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