On Saturday afternoon St Ives Roosters travelled away to play against Southampton Spitfires in the National Plate Competition. As the round trip was over 300 miles for either team to make a round trip the game was held at St Albans Centurions.
Things didn’t start as well as hoped, as St Albans Centurions have recently moved ground, the Roosters were late to the venue and so kick off was delayed by 15 minutes. As a result once the team eventually found their way to the new ground there was no time for a thorough warm up before kickoff got under way.
Playing at a neutral ground neither team had home advantage so the upper hand would come from the unpredictable weather and hurricane like winds and showers blowing directly down the pitch. The Roosters captain Michael Drake opted to pay against the elements and would receive the ball from the off off-loading to Sam Peel
who has made prop his own position playing brilliantly all season so far.
The first 10 minutes was very sporadic for both teams neither being able to complete their sets due to some big hits and at times some silly decision making from the roosters.
The call from the roosters coach was to play tight, shake off their travelling woes and begin to suck in the spitfires defence shortly afterwards the spitfires gave away a penalty in their own 20 with some strong forward runs the ball eventually went wide for Jake Peattie
to score in the corner. Conversion missed.
Just when the roosters began to settle down, the spitfires loose forward found a gap and scored under the posts. Try converted.
From the resulting restart a good hanging kick in the wind from Drake was gathered by Lewis Hall
who was able to off load out of the tackle for Adam Peel
to score. Conversion Missed.
From the restart Michael ‘I’m scared of the ball’ Drake was deceived by the pace of the ball and on coming wind to run away from the ball letting the spitfires have good position as the roosters had to now defend a goal line drop out. Again sloppy defence from the roosters let the spitfires back into the game to score under the posts. Try converted.
However this spurred the Roosters on even further and with Ashbridge and Chicken continuing to link well and direct the forwards to move the spitfires around the park scores began to come quick and fast. Jamie Noble continued to play well with powerful runs off the scrum and with several spitfires being on the end of his devastating hand off he was rewarded with a solo try. Max Dominy Converted
The Roosters continued to assert pressure on the Spitfires defence, David Sykes was next on the score sheet sniping round the tackle area and beating the markers to score. Conversion missed.
Pre worked penalty moves allowed space to be found, and with quick hands from the pivots Adam Smith
who continues to impress with his first season at St Ives touched down shortly after. Conversion missed.
With Southampton Spitfires adamant to use the hill and wind advantage, a miss timed chip was gathered by the defence and found its way to Lewis Hall
to score and convert his own try.
If Roosters thought the second half would start as the first half finished they were proven wrong with some very good running from the spitfires centre and winger the game was suddenly alive with a quick try. Conversion missed.
However this would be the highlight of the spitfires afternoon, the roosters ran the changes bringing on the fresh legs to make an impact. Stu Castle and Oliver Bartlet both playing well with some strong runs.
With some thunderous shots being thrown around the park Josh ‘Mr Dynamite’ Dear backed up his starting place with a huge hit dislodging the ball from his opponent. Ashbridge gathered and hoofed the ball down field gathering his own kick. From the tackle the referee decided that the defending spitfires play spent a little too long holding him down and then kicked out from the resulting penalty – the outcome yellow card for the spitfire’s player. However his carefully selected choice of words when leaving the field were not to the referees approval and his yellow card was quickly upgraded to red.
The next score came when Adam Peel
made a good break offloading in the tackle to Ashbridge who brushed aside the last of covering defence to score under the posts. Ashbridge converted his own try.
In a mirrored move to his first Jamie Noble crossed the line again. Lewis Hall
Soon after the restart the spitfires continued to run hard at the roosters defence and from a resulting tackle the referee once again reached for the yellow card this time to Chris Sykes for a dangerous tackle.
The final say would come from the spitfire’s team who competed at every tackle to the end. From a roosters point of view their loose forward was there man of the match causing the roosters all sorts of defensive trouble, again breaking the line and passing to the winger to score. Conversion missed.
Full Time – Southampton Spitfires 20 – 38 St Ives Roosters.
Roosters Coach Paul Ashbridge
commented “As Always the roosters showed a good attacking display which was just too powerful for our opponents. However we shot ourselves in the foot really with not finishing off the chances we created and not completing tackles. Silly mistakes in defence could have cost us today with the conditions as they were as it could have gone either way. But were now into the semi-finals and proud of the guys for giving there all for the 80 minutes.”