St. Ives maintain discipline to crush feisty opposition
Great team performance takes away hosts’ home record
The Bulls travelled to Corby with some late changes to an already reshuffled side knowing that Stewarts & Lloyds would provide a stern test. The season’s results show the home side clearly focus their attention on their home matches, but their proud record was to be undone by a performance demonstrating that Ives plans have permeated the ranks.
Playing down the slope and with the wind, S&L applied pressure from the kick off. Evergreen Jim Robinson
was in the thick of the action, making three crunching tackles in the early stages. Paul Ashbridge
was in his element with some superb crucial turnovers and Alex Henly
completed the combative midfield with some wall-like defence. Adam Scott
was also making important interventions on the flank.
Ives broke the siege as Duncan Williams
thundered through a gap and took the play to the opposition 22. S&L offended and Ashbridge slotted the penalty to take the lead.
The Bulls began to play with more continuity, but a couple of daft penalties gave the hosts the opportunity to kick for the corner. From the resultant lineout, the home side trundled the ball up and squeezed over in the corner.
Once again, Ives made their way upfield against the elements. A delightful multi-phase attack with Josh Meadows
taking good lines through gaps, saw the defence finally split and Ashbridge dart through to complete a fine team try.
S&L upped the ante to gain another foothold on the Ives line. A good lineout execution saw them wrap round and finally breach the line for a converted try.
As the break approached, Ives gained a penalty directly in front of the posts. Eschewing the kick, and with props Bradley Robinson
and Josh Dear
confident, they opted for a scrum. The wily home tight head managed to convince the arbiter that Ives had offended and the chance was lost.
Turning round with the score 12-8, it became apparent that the hosts had expected a larger buffer and their frustration was compounded by the absence of a forward in the bin.
Ives were quick to take advantage and re-took the lead with another fine try. Working the ball between forwards and backs, Bradley Robinson
S&L were penned in their own half, but kept Ives out until the final quarter when their discipline totally deserted them. Conceding yet another penalty close in, John Naylor
took a quick tap. The ball was transferred hither and thither until Josh Dear
spotted a tiny gap and bulldozed through. Ashbridge had found his range and kicked the conversion.
S&L had decided on alternative tactics, and as Naylor was flattened with the ball already at outside centre, another yellow was brandished.
Ives kept the ball in hand, the returning Matt Wood
and Stuart James
enjoying themselves in open play along with skipper Ollie Bartlett
An unusual foray into Ives’ territory was turned over yet again by Ashbridge. Another S&L player took exception in an unfortunate manner and was carded.
With the hosts down to 13, more space was available and Albiee Tayedzerwa and Ben Fleming
made runs from the back to regain ground for the Bulls.
The pressure finally told after Ives kicked to the corner. Patient play saw Dear cap a good personal performance with his second and the Bulls’ bonus point try. Ashbridge converted.
With ten minutes remaining the game got a little fractious, but Ives discipline was superb. Scenting more scores, they played with good structure. Henly, sporting a nose stuffed with cotton wool after an early clash of heads with his teammate Tommy Newman
, still had enough breath to sprint for the line after a good build up. Again converted.
The game was sensibly ended a little early by the official, who handled his difficult work well in the last quarter, when another unsavoury incident occurred, leaving winger Greg Dale with a gash to his head, fortunately mended with no concussive effects.
Skipper Bartlett was delighted with his team’s showing. “We’ve come away and taken 5 points from a difficult match. The performance of all the guys stepping in was great.”
Brown added, “The lads can be really pleased and proud of that performance. They faced some challenges later in the game and showed tremendous discipline to continue playing the rugby they did to gain their just deserts.”