Ives secure local bragging rights – and how!
It Raine’s tries for the Bulls in expansive performance
After the ups and downs of recent weeks, there was a tense edge to training in the lead up to the local derby against fierce rivals St. Neots. Whilst fortunes have been different for the sides this season, Ives prepared for the usual feisty encounter with their neighbours.
Some enforced changes also saw a juggling of resources with Max Dominy
welcomed back for his first games since October and Ollie “don’t play me at centre” Raine wearing 13. The hard practise bore fruit as the home team played with focus and determination throughout.
For the watching spectators, there was a great start as a well-placed kick by Paul Ashbridge
was followed up by Albiee Tayedzerwa who forced a turnover. The ball was spread wide for Raine to saunter over in the first of his fistful of tries.
For the next 10 minutes, St. Neots put the Ives under severe pressure. Their massive pack was holding its own at scrum time, and their line out was very effective. Ives defended stoically in their own 22. The penalty count was rising against the hosts with St. Neots opting for scrums when directly in front of the posts. But the line held firm. Some hits from Josh Dear
, Duncan Williams
and Stuart James
were particularly memorable and had the crowd worried for the recipients’ health.
Having weathered the storm and in the face of the strong easterly wind, Ives finally broke the shackles. The axis of Dominy and Ashbridge was working well and causing problems for the visitors on the tackle line. Breaks through the heart of their defence ended with Will Nelson
scoring after some excellent continuity and handling.
All the pressure now went onto the visitors. A penalty was converted. A series of searing breaks by Ashbridge and Nelson swept Ives downfield. St. Neots dam was broken and tries were scored by Ashbridge, Nelson, George Peacock
On the stroke of halftime another fine team surge saw a delicious piece of skill. The ball having been through most hands, Ives were left with a tight 3 on 2 in the left hand corner. To the crowd’s delight slick hands by Josh Meadows
and a Stuart Hogg-style tip on by Matt Wood
saw the ball reach Tayedzerwa, who rounded the last man to score a fine try.
With the half time score 46-0 the game was done and dusted. Coach Brown still found plenty to be grumpy about, willing the troops to maintain focus and sort out the penalty count and set piece wobbles. He was to be delighted with the second half performance.
The Bulls set about implementing their game plan afresh. Good game management up the hill, but with the wind, pinned St. Neots in their own half for the first 10 minutes. The visiting defence was again under pressure. Ashbridge took the opportunity to steak through a gap and score.
This was followed up by a similar break by Meadows who, to the on looking coach’s delight, drew the last man and put Ashbridge in for his hat trick.
There followed a few minutes where St. Neots entered the Ives half. However, a clean sheet was as important to the Bulls as racking up the points and the onslaught was repelled.
Ives continuity was causing St. Neots all sorts of problems. Second rowers Mickey Blackley
and Williams were punching huge holes in the defence and gaining massive yardage. Raine went in for his hat trick following great hands across the park.
St. Neots erred behind their own line. From the resultant 5m scrum, the Ives pack finally shunted the tiring St. Neots pack back at pace and Wood scored at the base.
A set piece gave the Ives backs the chance to practise a training ground move, Raine splitting the defence to score.
Back came St. Neots. Desperate to get something on the board, they summoned their last energy to attack the home side’s line. Another ten minute onslaught ensued. Again, the Ives defence was up to the task.
That was to be the last time the visitors made it into the Bulls’ half. Good hands and continuity saw Raine (“I still don’t like it”) score his fifth try. Meadows had the last word as he scampered through to score the 14th try of the match.
Dominy’s return was marked with ten successful kicks at goal. He was a happy man to have come through the match unscathed.
Skipper Dear exhorted his side to even greater effort after the final whistle. “With three games to go, great practise and performances will still be needed if we want to secure third spot.”