St Austell RFC took a 34 man squad, including 5 graduates from last season’s successful Colts side, to Camborne for the first pre-season warm-up game.
The match was made up of four 20 minutes periods to enable both sides to experiment with various combinations and integrate new players into patterns of play.
Played in glorious sunshine, the more experienced players took the field in Periods One, Two and Four. Although the Saints changed their whole side 10 minutes into Period Two giving their extended squad an opportunity to test themselves against a strong Camborne XV, before playing the home side’s second string in Period Three.
Saints can be really satisfied with their evening’s work, with nothing really between the two sides. Generally speaking the Saints held the edge in scrums and line out and were defensively strong throughout the encounter. They also enjoyed several periods where they dominated territory and procession to exhibit some exciting and flowing approach play between the halfway line and 5m out. It was only the lack of a final cutting edge against a solid organised defence that prevented the Saints from adding to the solitary try scored in Period One. For the record, Paul Winterbottom roared off from the base of a strong Saints scrum to touch down with Matt Shepherd converting.
With a new team on, Camborne inevitably gained the upper hand in Period Two, but it was a loss of discipline that allowed Camborne to relieve pressure in their own 22m. Two successive penalties and a ten metre push back for backchat provided Town with an attacking line out to execute a clinical catch and drive for an unconverted try.
The “second” XVs played each other in period three - although the promised “young” side for Town did not materialise so it was a tough baptism for our youngsters who responded supberbly to the challenge. Despite being under pressure for most of the 20 minutes, a very young side never gave an inch and still looked threatening on the counter. The second Camborne try was scored out wide on probably the only occasion the Saints were stretched in a very credible performance.
The 1st XVs returned for the last period which turned out to be a fiercely competitive final 20 minutes. Saints contained a highly motivated Town to dominate the last 10 minutes without scoring the try their play probably deserved.
The Saints coaches were delighted by the performance of all the players and took many positives from the exercise as well as noting some areas to focus on. Pleasingly the away side seemed to have the edge on Camborne in fitness terms underlining the hard work that has been put in by the players to date. The session also demonstrated that the Saints are still making good progress in their ambitions to close the gap with their SW1 opponents.
Next up for the Saints is a joint training session with the Cornish Pirates first team squad at Tregorrick Park on Tuesday 14 August.