Bulls start campaign with bonus point victory
Early jitters overcome for convincing victory based on pack dominance
A brief shower as kick off approached, which made the early conditions greasy, and some tension in the ranks led to a jittery start to this season’s league campaign for the Ives.
With the ball being spilled and anxious attempts to regain it being penalised, the Bulls found themselves on the back foot. However, in a demonstration of things to come, the defensive duties were taken to with relish and the threat extinguished.
Finally breaching the hosts’ 22, Ives won a lineout against the throw. The ball was transferred quickly to Ben Fleming
who reached out for the try line with two defenders in close attendance. The ball was deemed to have been lost forward. No matter to the result as, against the head, the Ives pack drove their opponents over their own line for Ollie Raine
to touch down at 8. Paul Ashbridge
added the extras from wide out.
From the kick off, loose handling gifted Dees possession. Again, Ives found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle. The penalty in front was converted.
Ives were still playing with ambition and got to within 5m of the home try line. Unfortunately, the lineout went astray and Dees were able to clear their lines with some kicks downfield. Running one such back, Ives loose hands again coughed up the ball. The home side spotted the gap out wide and ran in a converted try.
The second quarter saw Ives begin to apply pressure. A lineout maul from the 22 surged all the way to the line, but the grounding had no TMO to check and the potential try was disallowed. From the resultant scrum the Bulls once again trampled over the opposition for Raine to gain his second.
Dees had opportunities to retake the lead before and after halftime as the visitors continued to leak penalties. Fortunately for the Bulls the kicker’s radar had gone astray and he missed both attempts.
There then followed 10 minutes of pressure in the Ives half. Defence was severely tested close in, out wide and through the middle, but held firm showing tremendous determination. Ives broke and, playing with much more direct running and good ball retention, made their way to Dees’ 22. A delayed pass by Mickey Drake
released Ashbridge on a direct line to the posts. Having passed two defenders to score he converted his own try.
Back came the pressure and again, Ives defence was up to the task. The back row of Raine, Ollie Bartlett
and David Stone
was indefatigable. Duncan Williams
and Matt Wood
were finding space in the centres to gain precious yards. Michael Wright
was prominent in counter rucking to breach the siege.
With the ball in hand, Ives again showed ambition. A swift miss pass and well taken overlap saw Albiee Tayedzerwa sprint clear. Scampering past tackles up the touch line, he was brought to ground within sight of the Dees line. But two quick passes saw the supporting Will Nelson
on hand to touch down a great try, duly converted.
Dees continued to press down the slope, but St. Ives were intent on keeping a second half clean sheet.
With the clock ticking down, Ives regained possession and scored probably the most pleasing try of the game. The ball was kept patiently alive as Ives mounted the attack. Forwards and backs played with great continuity, patience and precision until centre-for-the-moment Josh Dear
lobbed the ball over the despairing jump of the last defender for Ashbridge to score. He duly converted with the last kick of the game.
Skipper Bartlett was a happy man. “We were rusty in the first half, but played much better in the second half when we ran more directly and looked after the ball. I am really pleased with the defensive effort, which is something we’ll need to maintain for the season.”