Highly entertaining game goes to the wire
Bulls overcome early shocks to continue perfect league start
After two high scoring victories, this was a true test of St. Ives mettle. Long Buckby were out of the blocks like lightning and rocked the hosts with some tremendous attacking play.
From an early scrum, Buckby’s pack was going in reverse, but still managed to secure possession. An arcing run in midfield saw the centre round his opposite number and step the last two defenders for a fine individual score.
St. Ives started their own attack, but the final pass went astray close to the opposition line. From the resultant scrum, which was again under pressure, Buckby played with great support and handling, stunning the onlooking home support with a 90 metre try.
Having been under the cosh, Ives responded well. From the kick off, Buckby conceded a scrum. The ball was whipped to Paul Ashbridge
who dummied a pass, then sprinted through to score.
With the game only a quarter of an hour old, the Bulls were further disrupted by an injury to Matt Wood
. This gave an earlier than expected opportunity for debutant Bradley Robinson
to enter the fray. Overheard saying, “They hit a lot harder than I am used to,” the youngster acquitted himself very well for the remainder of the match.
Buckby were using the elements well to keep Ives in their own half. The hosts were fortunate that the visiting 10 appeared to have left his kicking boots on the bus as two penalty attempts drifted wide.
The Ives defence was continually battered, with Chris Williams prominent in stemming many attacks and leading Ives own counter-thrusts.
As the half was closing, the Bulls had a sortie into Buckby territory and gained a penalty. Ashbridge slotted the kick to make the half time score 10-12.
Having soaked up so much pressure, it was St. Ives who started the second half at pace. From the kick off, Duncan Williams
cut an incisive line and charged down the pitch. The support play was good and the patient build up was rewarded as Josh Dear
crashed over by the posts for a try which was from all of 20 metres by 6pm.
Ives were now controlling possession much more efficiently. Almost immediately they stretched their lead. Another patient build up saw the ball through many hands until Josh Meadows
was released through a gap with the try line beckoning. He dotted down to complete a fine team try.
Lon Buckby had come to play and again applied pressure. A penalty was kicked to the corner, but the resulting maul was stopped. Buckby then span the ball into midfield where a superbly executed wrap-around saw the centre ghost through Ives’ defence and score under the posts.
With the margin only 5 points, Ives took the opportunity from a penalty to take it beyond one score.
With 15 minutes remaining the tension was ratcheted up when Buckby came back with a deserved bonus-point securing try. A maul from a lineout close to the Ives line was brought down illegally. Setting the maul again from the next set piece, Buckby executed a training ground move to score. The luckless kicker was unable to bring the score to within a point.
With Buckby sensing a win, they attacked from everywhere. Only dogged defence across the Ives ranks prevented them from taking the lead. With very few minutes remaining, the siege was finally broken as first a knock on, then a penalty concession gave Ives the chance for territory.
With the clock ticking into the red, Ives had one last attack. Once more, good support play and patient continuity saw them sweep downfield. Jack Blackley
was on hand to score the Bulls' own bonus point try.
Victorious skipper Ollie Bartlett
was a somewhat relieved man after the final whistle. “That was as stern a test as we have faced for many months and we’re really pleased to come through it. We didn’t start as well as we’d have liked, but responded well to the pressure. We’ll work hard during the week as we know it won’t get any easier next week up at Market Bosworth.”