RUGBY: Ivybridge and Services prepare to clash in Devon Senior Cup

IVYBRIDGE and Devonport Services clash once again this weekend when they meet at Cross-in-Hand in the Devon Senior Cup.

The two league games went the way of the home teams, with Ivybridge triumphing 18-13 with a late try at Cross-in-Hand in November and Services winning 41-29 at the Rectory just a month ago.

If Services could win again then they would have a great chance of progressing through the cup semi-finals, having been handed a walkover by Crediton in their first game.

Ivybridge, meanwhile, need to win to keep alive their hopes of a last four spot, having lost to Okehampton in their opening cup group game back in October.

This year’s Devon Senior Cup is split into two groups of four but teams do not play clubs in their pool.

So Services are fighting for a semi-final spot with Okehampton, Newton Abbot and Sidmouth, while Ivybridge are battling it out with Brixham, Exmouth and Crediton.

Devonport secured the top four place they wanted in Regional One South West last weekend and are struggling with injuries, but are still keen to try and keep momentum going and do well in the cup.

“We’re in the cup so we might as well try our best,” said head coach Ben Russell. “It’s just about learning from week to week and building for next year.

“We had that first (cup) game given to us because Crediton pulled out so we’ve started well.

“But we’ve got Ivybridge, Brixham and then Exmouth – the teams in third, fifth and sixth – so I think there’s going to be some more ding-dong battles.”

He added: “It’s another local derby this week. We played a near-perfect 40 minutes when we played them last, but then took our foot of the gas.

“And at their place it will be different as the pitch is a bit quicker, but we’ll see how we get on.”

Ivybridge’s director of rugby Jamie Tripcony feels his team are keen to prove a bit of a point after the defeat to Services last month at the Rectory.

“I think we were a little bit frustrated with the last outing,” said Tripcony.

“This should be another good game.

“We just look at the cup as another opportunity to play and try to win games.”

Ivybridge are able to welcome back James McFarlane, Kristian Davis and Tom Scoles after they all missed last weekend’s final league match at Exmouth, but they are without fly-half Matt Grieveson and youngsters Jacob Gaskin, Giles Clark, Adam Lilley, Jacob Winters and George Montgomery, who are all in the Devon under-20s team to face Cornwall at Brickfields on Sunday.

Devonport Services’ George Pooley and Isaiah Akinrowo are also in the Devon U20 squad, as is OPMs’ Ethan Millard, Marjon’s Fraser Felton and Tavistock’s Freddie Fuller.

Counties Two Devon champions Tavistock will end their league season away at Exmouth II.

“We want to go out with a bang,” said head coach Joel Caddy.

“It would be a bit of an anti-climax if we were to lose our last game.

“However, we can’t take them lightly. They had a good win last weekend against Ivybridge II.”

Tavistock are still missing a host of players, including Charlie Brown, Andrew Schuttkacker, Charles Bowden and Jake Le Gassick.

In the Devon Junior Cup, new Counties Three Devon West champions Plymouth Argaum make the short trip to Weston Mill to play city rivals Old Techs.

Both clubs have injuries and unavailabilities, but Argaum’s head coach Dean Avery feels the fact that they claimed the league title was because of the strength in depth that they have.

“The reason why we won the league is because we have a squad of about 35 players who want to play for the club and we are just managing to keep them happy,” said Avery.

Techs, who finished sixth in the league, narrowly lost 11-7 at home to Argaum in November but were well beaten 68-7 at Bickleight Down last month.

“The defeat to them last time was very unlike us,” said Techs’ Shaun Bedford-Smith. “We generally defend well and are hard to beat, but we will probably have a different team this time and we are at home.

“I would like to think the players want to put that right this time and feel like they have a point to prove as that was one of the biggest defeats we have had in a long time. It did hurt.

“They won the league and their tails are up so they are going to be a tough nut to crack.”

He added: “We have not had a settled team all year, but the cup is a chance to play some more games.

“We want to keep playing rugby, but it is hard as people think the season has ended.”

Techs are boosted by having a few of their army players finally back and a couple back from injury.

Sam Courtney, Lewis Harvery, Steve Wilkinson, Will Booth and James Bothman are among those set to return this weekend.

Saltash are also in cup action as they travel to lower league St Just in the second round of the Cornwall Clubs’ Cup.

The Ashes overcame Liskeard-Looe 81-0 in the first round, while St Just beat Lankelly-Fowey 41-10 at home.

Saltash have named a strong side for the trip, but youngster Billy Dover does get a start at fly-half, with Lewis Stuart moving to the wing.

Saltash’s second team are also in action as they host Torquay Athletic II at Moorlands Lane.

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