Mistakes proved costly, says Ivybridge rugby chief Neil Thomson
IVYBRIDGE – at the moment – are one of those teams that are perfectly capable of driving their own coaches to the nearest psychiatrist.
In one game, they look unbeatable. In another, they look exactly like they met for the first time in the dressing room just prior to kick-off. Saturday, sadly for the Bridgers, was one of the latter occasions.
Bridgers, it is true, have nothing to play for when it comes to the division's promotion race. Equally, they should have nothing to worry about when it comes to avoiding the drop. On Saturday's evidence, however, they will be thankful they picked up so many points early on in the season.
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Senior coach Neil Thomson strongly hinted after the match that some of his players, at least, should be sorting themselves out. One question they will undoubtedly want to consider is how they allowed Bude's centre pairing to tear great holes in their defence.
Last week, in a narrow loss at Wellington, Ivybridge missed a total of 10 tackles. Against Bude, who are below them in the league, but now not by much, they missed 33.
"That cost us three tries," said Thomson, who supplied the statistics. "The only people who can get themselves out of it is the players. Last week, I praised them for a good performance at Wellington, but this week, I've got to look at their mistakes.
"We are better than this. Our trouble is that we're too nice to other teams. We're not ruthless enough and we don't kill games off. It's not as if it's a huge problem because we know what it is. We start well, then we relax and let teams back into it."
Thomson was spot on in his assessment. Ivybridge did indeed start well, a 15-20 minute spell suggesting Bude were going home with their tails between their legs.
Adam Bradley opened the scoring with a penalty, Ivybridge scrum-half Tommy Newman was shoved over for the home side's first try, converted by Bradley, then it all went downhill from there.
Bude responded fast, a break from defence opening up the Ivybridge defence like a paper bag. Cornwall under-20s' Kyle Spears, arguably the best player on the field, touched down and his try was converted by the almost-equally effective Dan Pearce to tie the scores.
The visitors almost scored again within a minute with a similar move, Ivybridge's defence grimly holding them out, but Bude had to settle for a Pearce penalty to take a three-point lead.
Bradley stemmed the immediate prospect of a collapse with a penalty to bring the Bridgers back on equal terms, but the relief was illusory. Harry Goodman struck again for the visitors, Pearce converting and from an early position of relative superiority, Ivybridge were trailing 20-13 at the break.
Ivybridge had an opportunity in the opening minutes of the second period to reduce the deficit, but Bradley missed a penalty and Bude made the home team pay dearly. Duncan Tout finished off a slick move to put the home side further behind and Pearce, naturally, converted.
The Bridgers, 27-13 down, upped their game sufficiently to get number eight Mike Cox over the Bude try line in the left-hand corner, but Bradley's missed conversion attempt left the home side without the prospect of even of a consolation losing bonus try.
They changed all that with time running out, Sam Kingscott finishing off a slick move down the right to reward the wing for his industry throughout the match. Bradley missed the conversion, but significantly, when the final whistle went, it was Bude deep in Ivybridge territory looking for another try.
St Austell…73 Tavistock…3
TAVISTOCK boss Mike Lewis paid tribute to his makeshift team despite the moorlands side's heavy defeat at joint leaders St Austell.
Lewis was left in the uncomfortable position of having to beg, borrow or steal players from the club's second team after no less than 18 potential first-teamers – the equivalent of a 15-man side and their replacements – cried off before the game.
It would have been an understandably human reaction to forgo both a tediously long journey to St Austell and the inevitable thrapping, but Lewis chose to honour the fixture. There was some consolation in that patched together Tavistock were applauded off the pitch by St Austell after refusing to give up the ghost despite being buried beneath an avalanche to tries.
Lewis said: "We didn't really have a full team. Through Thursday, Friday and Saturday (morning), I was trying to get a team together. It was a combination of things, people were unavailable, injured or not showing up, so we were up against it.
"We would have been up against it even with a full team against the leaders anyway. We made quite a few mistakes, which was understandable, but the boys who were out there playing never gave up and they played really well. From that point of view, it was a 70-point defeat, but it was one of the best 70-point defeats I've ever seen."
Fly-half Richard West, who played despite being handicapped by an injury sustained the previous week, scored Tavistock's consolation penalty.
Honiton…20 Devonport Services…23
SERVICES slugged out a victory at bottom side Honiton to make a top-three finish increasingly attainable.
They were helped no end by high-flying Torquay Athletic's surprising defeat at struggling Exeter Saracens and head coach Bryan Crichton made it clear that his side have their sights set on greater things than being Western Counties West makeweights.
Crichton said of the Honiton game: "We put in a really good performance considering the conditions. The ball was a lead weight and it definitely wasn't a day for backs.
"We're fourth in the league, which is good, but the boys are not happy with that. They want to push on and go up. It's them pushing themselves, not me.
"I'm in full agreement. I'm not saying that we should become professional like Plymouth Albion, but I am saying we need to go up at least one league and possibly two."
Number eight Matt Gregory scored twice for Services, Honiton handed the visitors a penalty try and Matt Anstis nailed the rest of his side's points with his boot to put the city team within seven points of third-placed Torquay.