St.Ives Reach First Midlands Senior Vase Cup Final!
This was a day that all were aware of the challenge ahead. However with what can only be described as soggy conditions, the weather decided to play a very influential part in the type of game that was to be played here. Mid way through the warm-up the Leicester Vipers had been turned into something of a mud bath.
off the back of the previous league result (St.Ives left 3-29 winners), Vipers came out of the blocks at 100mph hammering at the Ives defensive line looking for an early break through. However, 30 minutes passed and no points had been scored by either side.
The breakdown proved to be an inconclusive affair from both teams. It took a while to happen, but eventually Ives started to apply some pressure to the Vipers line with heavy carries from Ashbridge, Williams, and Raine constantly hammering into the green shirted line.
Following another messy breakdown on the Ives 22 the referee awarded a penalty to Vipers following a Michael Drake offence. The Ives 10 clearly took offence to this and begun to engage in a ferocious tickling contest with the opposite 10, to which Williams & Raine decisively finished for him.
Unfortunately this led to Raine & the Vipers openside enjoying a well earned 10 minute break, following a yellow card each. The consistent infringement from Vipers around the pitch finally told with the referee offering a yellow card to the Vipers tighthead prop for not releasing at the breakdown.
Half time score 3-0
After a refresher from head coach for the day, Max Dominy, with the usual incumbent Phil Brown frolicking around on the slopes in Europe, Ives took the decision to play the game in the right end of the pitch to apply pressure back onto Vipers. The territory and pressure began to cause Vipers to leak more penalties, with Ives looking to level the scores up immediately.
This resulted in a series of unfortunate missed kicks from the usually unflappable Paul Ashbridge. It was duly reminded to him after the game by his team mates of how lucky we are to have him, albeit with a few tongues in cheeks.
Ives quickly changed tact and went to the corner in search of points. A brilliant throw from Tommy Newman, to the Angel of the North jumping at the back of the lineout, Josh Meadows saw Ives setup their driving maul. The maul was brought down close to the line but Ives reset before a short pass from Lord Naylor to the Man of the Match Dan Hyde to power over. The roar of delight from the Ives players was heard as they finally took the lead from an unconverted try, 3-5.
Vipers kicked off looking to regain their lead, but thanks to a brilliant exit from Naylor and Drake, Ives headed back in the other direction over the Vipers 10 metre line. Fantastic defensive pressure kept them pinned down in their half for a period of sustained pressure. once more the penalty followed and the Ives pack returned to the Vipers 5m line. The maul was set and the ball sent to the rear where the waiting Duncan Williams gripped hold of the ball as if it were gold. The Ives pack begun to drive him over the line with the lead now stretched to 3-10.
It would stay this way for a learge period of the 2nd half due to a series of errors from both sides leading to the dependable Josh Dear and Co putting in some extra work at scrum time. The final 10 minutes proved a nervous affair as Vipers threw the kitchen sink at the Ives line. Some brave defence from 1 to 15 holding them out still.
A series of driving mauls in the corner were somehow kept out, until a ruck on the short side saw the Vipers right wing scamper over for a try in the corner, which would prove crucial. Knowing the importance of the conversion, the St.Ives side collectively charged the kick, which the Vipers 10 missed as Ives headed back for the kick off holding onto a slender 8-10 lead.
Vipers took the resulting kick off and begun to move through the phases towards the Ives 22m. With blue shirts scrambling to keep them out Paul Ashbirdge managed to get his hands on the ball and win a turnover from the ruck much to the delight of his team mates as he followed up by sending the resulting penalty into touch to end the game and send St.Ives Bulls into their first ever Midlands Senior Vase Cup Final.