Dominant 8 send Sleaford packing
Scrappy game sees Bulls comfortably into third round
“Good teams find ways to win when they are off it” said coach Phil Brown immediately after the win, which was marginally more comfortable than the final score suggests. “The guys showed some moments of real cohesion in the conditions, especially up front. There were also times when a lack of composure or willingness to hold on to the ball gave Sleaford their chances, so we are well grounded before next week’s challenge.”
For the first ten minutes of the game, Ives had all the possession, but no territory. A lack of accuracy saw the ball frequently spilled or lost in contact by both sides. With the ball going to ground, the referee tried to play advantage, but neither team could string a continuous passage of play together.
From one scrum, Ives realised their distinct advantage as they shunted Sleaford off the ball. Stand-in captain Mickey Drake
, skipped up the blind side, chipped the defence and regathered for a tremendous individual try in the corner. From the touchline and into the wind, veteran Jim Robinson
was cruelly denied the extras by the crossbar. We heard some more about that post-match.
There then followed another frustrating period of play for the many spectators as neither side appeared willing to hold on to the ball. Having gained territory, and as opposed to the visiting breakaway forward, Ives found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle. Sleaford were relieved to clear their lines.
Ives lineout was also functioning well, with Tommy Newman
, who had a fine all round game, hitting his jumpers and restarting Bulls’ attacks. From one, Pete Fahey sniffed a gap on the opposition 10 metre line. He gathered pace, stepped the first defender and almost made it to the line. The full back dragged him down, and with multiple Ives players in support popped the ball up for the simplest of tries. But, no! The ball was not gathered and the chance went begging.
No matter. With Sleaford putting in to the 5m scrum, Ives front row of Michael Wright
, Newman and Josh Dear
decided enough was enough. With perfect timing they drove Sleaford off their own ball. It was as much as the Bulls second row could do to stay bound and keep up with them, as Thomas Watts
controlled the ball well to touch down at 8. This time, the bar didn’t get involved as Robinson sent the conversion sailing between the uprights.
Half time 12-3
The rain started to pour down as the second half commenced. Ives were determined to tighten up the loose play of the first half and started well. Forcing the visitors back into their own half, they coughed up a penalty which Robinson converted.
Sleaford made a couple of enforced changes and seemed to be re-energised. But, Ives’ defence held firm with some eye-catching hits by Duncan Williams
, Gabriel Edwards
and Watts in particular.
Wright made a bullocking run through the heart of the Sleaford pack to get Ives back towards midfield. The squeeze was applied and the Bulls went through the gears and crept into the opposition 22. Penalty! With the opportunity to stretch the lead to three scores with a simple kick, Drake put the onus on his pack to secure the game. With hindsight, everything worked out as the front five took the ball over the line, for Watts to dot down for his second. Robinson added the extras once again.
Sleaford were still playing with positive intent. Finally breaking through in midfield, they worked the ball well through a number of phases and pounded the Ives line. The visitors were rewarded with a try after being held up at the line for a couple of minutes. The conversion was the final score of the game.
Ives look forward to welcoming Northampton Casuals to the Chicken Shack on 14th. If the weather is kind, it promises to be an entertaining encounter between two well matched sides.