Bit of blinding second half defence sees Bulls over the finish line in top of the table clash
Tough challenge of casuals test Bulls to the max
This was a game of seismic proportions. Both teams entered this game boasting a 100% record with bonus points to match from their opening three games. Starting down the slope, casual’s quickly begin putting the ball into the wider channels through sharp interchanges in the midfield. St.Ives, led by No.10 Michael Drake in the continued absence of Oliver Bartlett, were slow out of the blocks. A penalty for casual’s was kicked to the corner, which they begin to drive into the Ives 22. Then suddenly they peeled off to the left and sent one of the back rowers down the blindside, who powered over for a converted try early on.
This seemed to give the home team the spark they needed. St.Ives began to launch their power game through the heart of the casual’s defence. Time after time holes were being punched by Williams, Watts, and Dear to name but a few. Unfortunately they couldn’t quite add the finishing touches to some fantastic build up play.
After soaking up this passage of pressure casual’s once again sparked into life sending their flying winger down the touch line to dot down for their second try. This was unconverted, and was also the winger’s last involvement after going down to injury.
From the resulting kick off it was time for St. Ives to finally jump into action. Outstanding No.8 Oliver Raine claimed the kick off from Drake and headed off up field for the casual’s posts. He was hauled down by the covering defence, before the ball was brilliantly spun through the backs for right winger Albie Tayedzerwa to dive over for the opening score in the corner. Paul Ashbridge, in charge of kicking for the day, decided it was best for the game if he missed the resulting conversion. St. Ives now trailed 5-12.
With the bit between their teeth and a new-found directness to their play St. Ives exited their 22 and marched up field with strong carries from No.7 Thomas Watts (A.K.A Telfon Tom). Numerous penalties were now being racked up by the back-pedalling casuals side. This handed the St. Ives side the forward impetus that was required. Following the decision to kick to the corner, St. Ives drove close to the line following a fantastic throw from hooker Adam Scott, the ball was transferred to MOM Duncan Williams, who was marched over the casual’s try line alongside his pack members. This time round Ashbridge obliged to add the extras. 12-12 going into half time.
Following a half time regathering St. Ives started the 2nd half with real intent. Tackles were flying in from the men in blue. St. Ives hardworking defence won them a penalty and they returned to their successful driving maul. The throw was on the money once again from Scott and the Bulls pack bared down on the casual’s line once again guided from the rear by Williams, who claimed his second try.
The Ives defence was certainly on top, keeping casuals pinned down in their own 22. Some over eagerness by some of the Bull’s resulted in back to back penalties which allowed casuals to set up a driving maul of their own once on the St. Ives 5m line. The casual’s backs smelt blood close to the Bulls line and joined in with their forwards driving maul, pushing them over for an unconverted try. Once again, the scores where tied up.
St. Ives took the kick off which was contested and caught for the umpteenth time by No.8 Raine. St. Ives drove up field with the gain line being breached on back to back occasions, as casuals conceded a resulting ruck penalty which Ashbridge duly knocked over for a 3-point lead which would continue till the end the game.
The final ten minutes resulted in missed opportunities from the hosts but ultimately set piece and a blinding defensive performance saw St. Ives over the line, to remain undefeated, atop the league table.
After such an effort, I don’t think any player can say they had plenty in the tank anymore.