Ives unbeaten run ended by impressive Queens
Bulls lack of match practice evident as they slip to defeat
The final score belies a fairly open encounter in sunny, dry conditions at Queens. Both sides had opportunities aplenty, but could not convert them.
Bulls started at an absolute gallop. Receiving the ball from the kick off close to their own line, they spent the first minutes demonstrating great continuity. Arriving well into the Queens half, a soft penalty was conceded allowing Queens to clear. The host kicked deep into the Ives half.
From the lineout, the eager Ives defence was caught offside, allowing Queens a simple kick to take the lead.
Ives continued to play the ball wide on the very narrow pitch. Mickey Drake
found himself out left with two defenders in front. He grubbered the ball through, regathered and drove through the last defence to score a fine individual try. Taking a knock in the process, he left the field for ten minutes for treatment from the post-maternity returning Quintillian Johannes.
Queens are a much improved side since their drubbing at Somersham Road, but Ives were still able to find gaps. Unfortunately, rustiness from lack of recent matches led to some miscommunications and odd decision making in the three quarters and a couple of decent half chances were lost.
Queens gained confidence from not conceding and kicked well downfield. Again, Ives midfield was offside offering a simple penalty chance which gave the home side the narrowest of leads.
With their tails up, the home backs began to run hard at the Ives defence. A number of missed tackles put the Bulls under extreme pressure, but the scramble defence was enough to keep Queens at bay. Ollie Bartlett
demonstrated his turnover prowess to wrest possession back for the visitors.
Ives swept upfield with a thrilling passage of play. Duncan Williams
charged through a gap and kept the ball available. The travelling support was frustrated to witness a clear overlap go begging as individuals attempted to crash through the last defence. Queens’ line held firm and half time arrived 6-5.
Now playing with the elements, Ives were immediately on the attack. Good forward work was undone when another overlap was spurned, the home defender not taking the dummy and turning over possession.
Ives were awarded a penalty just outside the 10-metre line. Given the balance of the game and the pitch only 90 metres long, they opted for the posts. But, the chance fell just short.
Keeping up the pressure, Ives were awarded another penalty on the 22, but inexplicably tapped and went. The choice was again undone as the quick transference halted when yet another overlap went begging.
With the game nearing its final quarter, Queens were gaining good ground punching holes in the Bulls midfield and retaining possession well. There followed an intense period where the hosts were camped on the Ives’ try line. Excellent defending, very notably by Bartlett, Jack Blackley
, the returning-from-injury Matt Wood
, Tommy Newman
and Josh Dear
kept them out.
Three times Queens were over the line. Thrice held up. Three penalties were kicked to the corner, each time Ives defended and drove the opposition back.
With minutes to go, Ives broke the siege. One final sally into the Queens half saw Alex Henly
gather a kick over by the Queens 9 and sprint past the first defence. The next defender gambled on the pass and intercepted what may have put a Bull through. It was the final act of the game as the ball was knocked on.
Ives tremendous unbeaten run has come to an end, but not the ambition. “We reset our targets looking forward not back,” opined coach Max Dominy. John Naylor
was quick to add, “We had enough chances today, and that bodes well as the fixes are easy in training. We’ll work hard to be ready for the visit of Rushden in two weeks.”