Visitors snatch victory at the death
Bulls profligacy costs
It is a sign of how far St. Ives 1st XV has come in recent seasons that losing to one of the pre-season favourites for promotion Olney will be regarded as one that got away. The strong wind dictated that the match was played mostly at one end of the pitch and both teams put in strong defensive displays when against the elements.
The Ives had to reshuffle resources 15 minutes before kick off as the unfortunate Jim Robinson pulled up lame in the warm up. Debutant Mitch Newman
was thrown in at the deep end at 10 with youngster Joe Cox drafted in on the wing. The match also saw the return of Ollie Raine
for the first time this season following injury.
Nonetheless, the Bulls started very well and applied immediate pressure. A penalty was awarded, but on a day difficult for the kickers, the wind dragged the attempt wide.
Ives then shot themselves in the foot by conceding two penalties in quick succession offering Olney the chance for quick taps and territory gain. Kicking a further penalty to the corner, the visitors attempted to maul their way to the line. The Ives pack was giving no quarter. The ball was finally spun back for the Olney 10 who chipped deftly to the right hand corner where the ball stood up to be collected by the grateful winger to score.
A tip tackle on Raine saw a penalty awarded to Ives, which Paul Ashbridge
Immediately from the kick off, Ives were forcing play downfield again, the Olney backs crept offside and Ashbridge kicked his second to take a slender one point lead going into the second quarter.
Olney continued to offend offering Ives chances to attack. From one quickly taken penalty, the Bulls showed great patience and support play moving from half way to the 5 metre line. Releasing the ball wide, Pete Fahey darted over for a try.
On the half hour, yet another penalty led to Ives stretching their lead to nine.
There then followed ten minutes of pure frustration for the home players and spectators alike. An overlap on the left was not converted. A 5 metre scrum in front of the posts led to a series of drives for the line, but the ball was eventually turned over for holding on. Then, an overlap on the right was butchered as contact was taken and the ball lost.
Unbeaten at the Chicken Shack since April 2017, Ives were in no mood to let the elements get the better of them in the second half and continued to run strongly with ball in hand. The pack was doing well in both the set piece and in the contact until a lone runner held on allowing Olney to convert a long range penalty.
As the game entered the final quarter the result was still in the balance. Olney began to secure better possession, not least through the concession of a number of penalties by St. Ives. Struggling off the tee, Olney kicked for territory, but could find no way through the staunch Ives defence across the entire blue line.
With time running out, it was the hosts’ ill-discipline which finally told. A series of penalties got Olney close to the line, the ball finally being touched down a few metres to the right of the posts. An all hands charge helped put the kicker off and his conversion attempt was swept wide leaving the score 14-13 with one minute to play.
From the kick off, Ives were keeping Olney on the half way line. Olney attacked the fringe and a penalty was conceded 45 metres out. After some debate, the Olney 10 decided on the shot at goal. This time, the wind assisted him as his kick was carried to hit the junction of post and crossbar to sneak over as the referee called time.
Post-match, Ives could hold their heads high. Despite the final score, for 79 minutes they were comfortable and can take all the good things, plus a bit more accuracy close to the try line, into the next match in two weeks' time.