RUGBY PREVIEWS: Services and Ivybridge ready to lock horns, plus crucial games for OPMs and Argaum

A BUMPER crowd is expected at the Rectory on Saturday as fourth-placed Devonport Services host fifth-placed Ivybridge in Regional One South West.

The last meeting in November, which was the first league fixture between the two sides in nearly nine years, went right down the the wire, with Charlie Teague scoring a converted try with the last play of the game to secure Ivybridge a 18-13 victory.

And both clubs expect another tight match this weekend, with just two points separating them in the table

“I’m sure it will be a great occasion,” said Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony.

“It’s a good local derby and there should be good support there. I’m sure it will be a strong arm-wrestle.”

He added: “It is a big occasion away from home and we’re looking forward to it.

“I’m sure they (Services) will be fired right up and they will certainly be the favourites going in. They are in a good run of form, they are at home, so we’ll just prepare as best we can.”

Services’ head coach Ben Russell added: “It should be good. We are looking forward to it.

“It’s a proper derby and both teams have done fantastically well this season and are fourth and fifth.

“In the last game they were the better side yet we nearly snuck it but they score right at the end to win 18-13.

“It was gutting, but the most disappointing thing for me in that game was that we didn’t really play – we didn’t fire a shot.”

Russell is hoping his side can show what they can do on Saturday on their own patch and play for the full 80 minutes.

“The thing about level five compared to level six or seven is that you can’t just play for 55-60 minutes and think you are going to win games,” he said. “That moment you miss a tackle or take your foot off the gas, teams come back – and that has been proven in all our games.”

He added: “But Saturday should be a cracking day and there should be a cracking crowd.

“Whoever wins this weekend has a good chance of finishing fourth.

“Ivybridge have some really key players hitting form and they have a very established backline.

“They have actually scored more tries but we have better defence, so it should be a good game.

“It’s a game for the area and there should be a cracking atmosphere.”

The two clubs’ second teams will lock horns tonight at Cross-in-Hand in Counties Two Devon (7.45pm).

A decent crowd is also expected for that fixture, with Ivybridge II starting the evening in sixth place and Devonport Services II eighth.


PLYMSTOCK Albion Oaks will be hoping they can build on last week’s impressive 60-19 home victory over Bideford when they travel to third-placed Pirates Amateurs on Saturday.

Ninth-placed Oaks know ever point they can pick up could be vital in their battle to stay up.

They know it will not be easy at Menneye Field, where the Pirates Amateurs have only lost once this season. The Penzance-based club have also won their last five games and have beaten Oaks in the last three meetings between the sides.

“It will be a toughie,” said Oaks team manager Mark Lenthall. “But we’ll make a day of it. We have played them for a number of years and we always get a train down and make it a good day.

“Hopefully, we’ll have good availability.”

Oaks have just three games left. After visiting the Pirates, they host Wiveliscombe before ending with a trip to winless Falmouth.

They feel they probably need two wins from those three games to be certain of staying up, although they know they cannot take anything for granted.

“It is one of those leagues where I think everyone can string some results together, apart from probably Falmouth who have really struggled,” said Lenthall.


COUNTIES Two Devon leaders Tavistock will be looking to bounce back from only their second defeat of the season last weekend.

Tavistock went down 26-10 away at Barnstaple II, but they still have a 12-point cushion at the top of the league, although second-placed Torquay Athletic do have a game in hand.

However, Tavistock want to take any pressure off by beating seventh-placed Exeter Saracens away tomorrow.

They are boosted by having the likes of George Hillson, Toby Teague, Martin Budden, Jack Osborne and Andrew Schuttkacker back in their squad for the trip to Exhibition Way.

“Winning is all that really matters this week,” said Tavistock head coach Joel Caddy, who is also hoping Barnstaple II can do them a favour by beating Torquay.

“We have got a relatively strong side out. There are quite a few changes to last week.”

Tavistock are also set to name a strong second team to host St Austell III in a rearranged match after OPMs Jesters pulled out of facing them.

Josh O’Neill could make his return in the seconds, while new fly-half signing Al Spicer could also get a run out against St Austell II.

Spicer played school rugby with George Hillson, who has recommended him.

Tavistock II have also formally applied to join the league next season as the club looks to build.

In Counties Two Cornwall, Saltash are on the road again with a relatively short trip to sixth-placed Bodmin.

After last week’s frustrating 10-10 draw with leaders St Ives, the Ashes will be just keen to at least make sure they finish second in the table.

They are currently third but do have a game in hand on St Austell II, who sit three points above them.

Saltash will just be hoping they can win their final four matches and at least end the season knowing they were only beaten once.

They haven’t yet played Bodmin as they pulled out of a trip to Moorlands Lane in November.

Saltash are boosted by the return of key players Lewis Wells, Will Morton and Ryan Rayner, who all missed last week’s big match with St Ives. Wells will be making his 250th appearance for the club.

In the same division, Liskeard-Looe visit bottom side Hayle. The Lions are looking for a new head coach for next season with Lewis Elliott set to step down.


THIS weekend could be crucial in the title races for both the Devon East and Devon West leagues.

There are top-of-the-table clashes in both divisions.

In Devon East, leaders OPMs could take a major step towards the title, if they could beat second-placed Crediton II at King Geoge V Playing Fields.

The Old Boys are currently four points ahead of Crediton, but they have played a game more.

However, if OPMs could win on Saturday and go eight or nine points clear then it would make it very difficult for them to be caught.

OPMs will have a point to prove, having lost 36-8 away at Crediton II in November with a under-strength team. The Old Boys had made the trip without a number of key players, including Fred and Matt Smale.

They also lost to Crediton II in pre-season away, so they will be hoping that it is third time lucky at home.

It will be their first home league game since October after receiving four consecutive home walkovers.

It is also a big day in the Devon West league where leaders Plymouth Argaum head to second-placed Topsham II.

Argaum are unbeaten since the second game of the season and have not lost on their travels this term, but Topsham II are unbeaten at home, so something will have to give.

A victory for Argaum would give them breathing space going into their final three matches, but if Topsham II were to win it would put the pressure back on the Plymouth side, who have to travel to Newton Abbot II next week.

“Topsham are going to be well up for it,” said Argaum head coach Dean Avery.

“If they beat us they will be in with a shout so it is a massive game for us.

“But we just have to keep ticking away and getting results.”

Argaum are continuing to get good numbers at training and have been having more new players join them as they push for promotion.

Third-placed Tamar Saracens will be hoping to take advantage of the top two sides playing each other as they make the short trip to Horsham Fields to play Plymstock Albion Oaks II.

Oaks have really struggled this season, but they did have a strong side out last week away at Salcombe and they pushed the South Hams side hard before going down 19-0.

“If you looked at their (Oaks II) team sheet last week they looked to have a few more players and it looked like they gave a good account of themselves at Salcombe,” said Tamar Saracens head coach Mike Lewis.

“Judging by that it looks like we could have a good game.

“On paper we will be favourites, but their result last week shows our players that they can’t be complacent.”

Sarries expect to have a strong squad out again, but they are set to be missing James Barlow, Scotty Sheldon and Matt Cates.

Old Techs will be hoping to bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat at Plymouth Argaum when they host Salcombe at Weston Mill.

Salcombe will be unsure which Techs team they will face on Saturday – the one that convincingly beat Topsham II 25-0 the other week or the one that lost 68-7 away at Argaum last week.

Techs were missing a lot of players last week and were not helped by picking up injuries to Steve Wilkinson, Ben Hockey and Ryan Tunicliffe early on.

All are likely to be missing this week, but they should have James Douglas, Jenson Baker, Tony Luxon and Nathan Webb back to face Salcombe.

“We have got people missing in key positions at the moment, but is just a matter of digging in,” said Shaun Bedford-Smith.

“Salcombe and us are both mid-table and probably not going to move from there, but you still want to win rugby matches. Players always want to go out and win.”

Techs have signed two new players this week.

Former Ivybridge colt Josh O’Hare, a prop, has joined them after not playing for a number of years and Lee Puleston has also arrived having not played since school.

“This is what it is about at this level – getting players back into rugby,” said Bedford-Smith.

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