RUGBY PREVIEWS: Services look to seal place in Devon Senior Cup semi-finals

DEVONPORT Services will be aiming to move another step closer to securing a home Devon Senior Cup semi-final spot when they host Brixham at the Rectory on Saturday in their penultimate pool game.

Services have 10 points out of 10 so far in the cup and so only need one more point to guarantee themselves a spot in the last four with one game still to go, but they need five points to guarantee a home tie.

“We would like to try and finish top as then you get a home semi-final,” admitted head coach Ben Russell.

Services, who beat Ivybridge away in a ding-dong contest last weekend, are expecting another big battle on Saturday with the visit of Brixham.

Devonport did beat Brixham 37-18 at the start of the season at home but were then crushed 52-13 away at Christmas, which was their biggest defeat in more than four years.

It means Services will have a point to prove on Saturday.

“I wasn’t there for that one unfortunately,” said Russell. “I just think we didn’t turn up away, but at home we did.

“They (Brixham) finished above us in the league. They are a big, physical side and have some very good players.

“But I think we are both quite evenly matched sides.

“I think it will be about the team that controls that purple patch when they get on top. When someone is on top you just have to defend as best you can and hopefully ride it out and then go and attack yourselves.”

Brixham, who finished third in the league – one place above Services – travelled with a unrecognisable team last week to bottom side Drybrook and lost 43-0, but it is expected they will have their regular players back for this weekend.

Services are still struggling with injuries but youngsters like George Pooley, Billy Orchard and Matt Richards have really taken their chances in recent weeks.

Ivybridge’s chances of reaching the last four of the Devon Senior Cup are slim after defeats to Services and Okehampton, but they will be hoping to secure a win this weekend when they travel to lower league Sidmouth.

The Bridgers will not know too much about Sidmouth, but director of rugby Jamie Tripcony says they just have to worry about themselves and trying to finish the season well.

“It is always good to try and create a bit of momentum to finish the season with,” he said.

“We just have to concentrate on ourselves and get the processes right. We just need to worry about our game.

“We were in the game for long periods of time last week, but we are just disappointed with our performance.

“But there’s another weekend to try and put it right but in a minute we are going to run out of those and it will be the end of the season.”

Tavistock have their eyes on trying to win three trophies this season.

They have already won the Counties Two Devon league title and are into the semi-finals of the Lockie Cup, but this weekend they turn their focus to the Devon Junior Cup when they host North Tawton at Sandy Park.

The teams only met in the league two weeks ago, with Tavistock winning 50-12 at Taw Meadow to claim a league double over their mid-Devon rivals, having beaten them 33-13 on the opening day of the season.

Tavistock are unbeaten at home this season and want to keep that going.

“We are not in the habit of losing,” said head coach Joel Caddy.

“On paper we should win, but two weeks ago at half-time it was relatively close.”

Tavistock do have to make some changes with Charlies Charlton, Charlie Brown, Andrew Schuttkacker, Jack Osborne, Martin Budden and Jack Easton among their absentees.They are set to hand a first team debut to fly-half Al Spicer, who played school rugby alongside George Hillson.

Hillson will move to full-back for Saturday, with Charles Bowden switching to scrum-half. Jake Le Gassick is back for Tavistock.

Tavistock’s second team are also at home when they play a Plymouth Argaum XV.

The big game in the Devon Junior Shield is at King George V Playing Fields where OPMs host city rivals Old Techs.

Counties Three Devon East champions OPMs need a bonus point win over Techs to guarantee a place in either the shield semi-finals or bowl semi-finals after Salcombe handed Tamar Saracens a walkover.

OPMs are in the same pool as Sarries and Argaum, who are all set to finish with two wins out of two. Argaum already have 10 points from 10, while Sarries have nine from 10.

Techs know they are already guaranteed a place in the shield semi-finals whatever happens after losing bonus points in close games against Argaum and Sarries. However, they will be keen to try and claim the scalp of the Devon East winners after coming so close last week to beating the Devon West champions.

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