Saints top as the halfway point of the league season approaches .
After a weekend off, league rugby returns with Round Eleven, the half-way point of the 2022-23 season. It was a much-needed break for the Saints after a hard-fought, but thoroughly deserved, 34-15 win against Crediton. Victory saw the Saints leapfrog the Devonians to take pole position in the Regional 2 SW league in a bruising encounter at Tregorrick. While it will still be too soon for Miles Davey and Ben Plummer, the selectors will be hoping a weekend with their feet up will help some of the other walking wounded to have fully recovered in time for Saturday’s trip to Newton Abbott.
Aptly for the halfway point in the season, the Saints will be facing a team currently sitting smack bang in the middle of the table with an almost 50:50 playing record of 4 wins, 1 Draw and 5 losses. It is just over 20 years since we last played the “All Whites” and those from Tregorrick with long memories will want to forget our last trip to Rackerhayes. It was during the tumultuous 2001-02 season when St Austell RFC were in the midst of their freefall through the leagues after the end of the era of paid players. The Saints dropped though Western Counties West in just one season and in the process experienced their heaviest ever league defeat at the hands of Newton Abbott. A very young and inexperienced side suffered a 106-7 defeat in Devon, a low point in our Club’s history. A group of teenagers, some as young as 17, were press-ganged into that traumatic day but they included a core of young St Austell lads who would go on to create the foundation for later success. Things improved slightly in the return when they limited the All Whites to just 54-3 towards the end of the season, the Saints continued the downward spiral until they reached Cornwall One.
Out of adversity, the seeds for the "whole Club ethos" you see today were sown. A Phoenix like rise over the last 12 years has seen the Saints climb the leagues again, but this time with players developed in our Youth Academy.
The All Whites have endured their own cyclic journey up and down the league structure over the last decade. Promotion in 2005-06 saw them become an established Level 5 side in SW Premier before going on to reach National League 3 in 2010-11. Two successive 4th placed finishes in 2016-17 and 2017-18 hinted at further upward progression to come but alas the wheels came off. Two relegation hit seasons followed in 2018-19 and 2019-20 which meant Newton Abbott were back in the Western Counties West by the time Covid hit. They steadied the ship in 2021-22 with a 3rd place finish behind the all-conquering Wadebridge Camels and Truro.
This season’s results suggest that the All Whites are a highly competitive side, regularly registering a good number of points on the board even in defeat. As their league position suggests, they tend to defeat sides in the lower half of the table but just come up short against those above them. It will be an intriguing contest in Devon and the first test of the Saints’ newfound status as table toppers.
The Sinners seven match unbeaten run came to an end in a tight encounter against Redruth IIs that could have gone either way.
It was nip and tuck throughout with the Sinners ahead 10-8 at the interval with tries from Tom Daniel after a driving maul and full back Toby Hodson. The home side rallied impressively to build up a 18-10 lead going into the final quarter. The Sinners laid siege and their efforts were rewarded when Kayden Michael stormed over, George Hutchinson’s icy-cool conversion made it 18-17. Redruth showed great game management to add a penalty and close out the Sinners to hold on and win the contest 21-17. A great game and a losing bonus point was the very least the Sinners deserved for their efforts.
This week they face high flying Saltash in a 2:30pm Kick-Off at Tregorrick on 26/11/2022. The Ashes will be smarting after losing 32-17 last week in a top of the table clash at St Ives. It was their first defeat of the season made worse as it also allowed the Hakes to leapfrog over them into top spot. It promises to be an exciting challenge for the Sinners as they look to the comforts of home to get back to winning ways.
The Spartans enjoyed an exciting contest against Counties 3 Cornwall front runners Perranporth.
With no other St Austell senior sides playing, it was great to see the Spartans selecting those who had turned out for the 3rd XV on a regular basis. The only exceptions were Cam Taylor returning to action after a few weeks off and 18-year-old Colt Peter Gasson making his senior debut, the latest player to come from the club’s youth section.
The game was nip and tuck right into the second half with the scores tied at 17-17. The home side finished the stronger with their pacy backline boosted by the uncontested scrums in the last 30 minutes to win 41-22. The Spartans scorers were Henry Hutchinson, Cam Taylor and a brace from Tom Tyrrell with Tom Spry adding the solitary conversion.
The Spartans are on the road again this Saturday when they travel to the Lizard for the return fixture with Helston IIs in an early kick-off (KO 12:00).
Yours in Rugby