Bulls start 2018 as they finished 2017
Tough encounter tests Bulls resilience and they come out on top
Due to the earlier cancelled fixture, St. Ives entertained a game Leicester Forest side at the Chicken Shack for the “away” fixture. The final score belies the close nature of the contest as Forest looked for an upset. A keen north easterly wind meant that any usual advantage of the slope was negated.
Having had the Christmas lay off, both teams needed to shake off the cobwebs and extra pounds. It was Forest who came out the blocks quickest. The visitors attacked the Ives line in the first minutes, but a dropped pass within 5 metres saw the chance lost and Ives breathe a sigh of relief.
With some possession, Ives headed downfield. John Naylor
found Paul Ashbridge
on half way and the latter’s line took him beyond the first line of defence. Pinning his ears back, Ashbridge clattered over the last defender for the first score of 2018.
Almost immediately, Ives were on the attack again. A Forest lineout was taken against the throw by the leaping Ollie Raine
. After a series of phases, Josh Dear
was released in the wide channel, feeding Albiee Tayedzerwa who scorched past his opposite number to score.
Any thoughts of an easy ride were scotched as the Forest full back put a fine kick into the corner. Having won the defensive lineout, Ives were turned over and a patient series of drives saw Forest score a converted try.
With the soft ground and strong wind making it a tricky day for kicking, Forest missed a chance to level with a penalty.
A period of scrappy play followed. Ives attacked, but Forest defended well. Finally, a penalty at the breakdown allowed Naylor to take a quick tap. Darting forward, Raine was in support and dashed through to score under the posts.
From the kick off, a high shot gave Forest another penalty attempt from in front, this time converted.
The remainder of the half was evenly contested until another penalty to Ives gave them the opportunity to gain the try bonus point. A well-executed lineout was followed by some classic back play gaining yards. Having stretched the defence, Mickey Drake
released Matt Wood
through a gap. Raine was again up in support to take the scoring pass for the best of the match.
The feature of the second half was Forest’s strong running. Taking the direct route and bouncing off a few softer tackles they almost scored. Forest were awarded a penalty in front and chose to scrummage. They gained no ground, but good hands saw them over wide out.
From the kick off, Forest pounded the Ives line. Josh Meadows
showed the way with some fine chop tackles and his colleagues followed suit with ten minutes of excellent defence.
Having weathered the storm, Ives were driven upfield by a couple of raking kicks by Ashbridge and Drake. Attempted relieving kicks were run back by Alex Henly
to reverse the pressure on the visitors. After a series of driving phases, Ashbridge’s leg drive saw him over in the corner.
Again, Forest came back hard. A great break midfield was only thwarted by a high shot in defence, resulting in a yellow for Jack Blackley
. Good hands were used to stretch the reduced Ives defence and only a forward pass prevented a score out wide.
Even a man down, Ives continued to play their patterns in attack. Having regained possession, some sweet handling involving both forwards and backs eventually saw Tayedzerwa gain the ball. With men to beat, he put his head down and sprinted directly for the line, slicing through the defensive line and scoring Ives sixth and final try.
The Ives were a contented bunch after the final whistle. Skipper Ollie Bartlett
summarised, “That was a tough test and we came through it well. We’ve got some hard challenges coming up in both Cup and League, so this helps us look forward to those with some confidence.”