1st XV 'Saints'
Sat 02 Mar 2024  ·  Regional 1 South West
St Austell RFC
1st XV 'Saints'
Tries: K Michael, D Tyrrell (2)Conversions: M ShepherdPenalties: M ShepherdYellow Carded: C Ashwin, C Boyce
Saints on the brink after late surge

Saints on the brink after late surge

Paul Hayes3 Mar - 14:36
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Only two more points required to ensure Saints retain their Level Five status!

A Herculean effort by the grounds team to make sure the game went ahead was rewarded by a colossal performance by the Saints. The wettest February since records began 256 years ago and the midweek Cornwall match had taken its toll on the famed Tregorrick pitch. Two days of forking, rolling and sanding by a hardy group of volunteers had ensured a playable if not aesthetically pleasing surface. Both sides deserved great credit for adapting to the difficult conditions to put on a pulsating contest that ebbed and flowed with the outcome only decided in the final minutes. The Saints showed incredible pride, passion and spirit to continually overcome adversity on the road to a crucial bonus point win.

The kick-off was preceded with a minute's applause to honour Fred Woods who recently passed away, a true Saint who would enjoyed a fabulous game of rugby from two committed teams.

The playing squad has been decimated by a raft of serious injuries in 2024 with 15 players currently out of action. Preparations for arguably the biggest game of the season were further hampered when skipper Mark Vian came off injured playing for Cornwall on Wednesday. The injury curse struck again with less than a minute played when star performer Rhys Daniel was forced from the field following an accidental clash of heads. The home side looked stunned and a fired up Okehampton stormed into a ten-point lead with a penalty and a well worked try with just 6 minutes on the board. The Saints finally got a foothold in the game and started to play with some tempo in the Oke half. With the visitors’ defence stretched the ball was sprung wide and a deft kick by full back Matt Shepherd saw winger Dan Tyrrell win the race to bring the Saints back into the game after 10 minutes (5-10).

With the home side on the wrong side of Referee Oli Carey’s whistle, Okehampton were able to enjoy long periods of possession in the home half. The Saints were tenacious in defence and were grateful for sterling work from centres Jamie Stanlake and Sam Parsons. Veteran lock Tony Knight led by example and the work rate of Miles Davey, Scott Pearce and Kaydan Michael was phenomenal. It took an excellent try to finally break the Saints resistance on 35 minutes with the ball spinning along the back line for winger Kevin Dennis to score in the corner (5-15). The home side roared back with powerful carries from Knight and prop Matt Bootby making big dents in the Oke defence. Fly half Chris Ashwin picked the moment to unleash the backs and it was Dan Tyrrell who grabbed his second try to make the half time score 10-15.

The Saints got off to the perfect start when Matt Shepherd launched a spiralling 50:22 to set up a line out just 10m from the try line. Lock Joe Maunder soared and with the ball secured, the pack assisted with assorted backs powered forward forcing Okehampton to collapse the maul just as the Saints crossed the line. The result was a penalty try and the visitors reduced to 14 with a yellow card issued for the deliberate derailing of the drive (17-15). The Saints were now dominating, and it took an excellent last gasp tackle to prevent Jamie Stanlake from grounding the ball. At this stage it felt that the home side would go on to win but that all changed on the hour mark. Having worked hard to improve their discipline in the second half, the home side suddenly found themselves back on the wrong side of the official with two yellow cards in a minute. Chris Ashwin was first to go to the sin bin for a high tackle, from the resulting penalty he was joined by his half back partner CJ Boyce after he tried to prevent a quick lineout. Okehampton were quick to exploit the gaps created with Kevin Dennis going over for his second try to put the visitors back in front (17-20).

From the restart Oke infringed and Matt Shepherd was able to restore parity at 20-20. With the game moving into the final ten minutes the tension was becoming unbearable with the nerves jangling as both sides looked for the win. It was the Saints that blinked first when they were penalised for not rolling away, Luke Simmons’ cool penalty nudged the visitors into the lead with just eight minutes left triggering delirium on the Oke bench (20-23).

The Saints galvanised themselves for one last push and a Joe Maunder charge down caused panic in the Oke defence resulting in a penalty for holding on. With time running out and recognising a draw would not be enough, the Saints elected for a scrum rather than kick a routine three points. A darting run from CJ Boyce was held up just short of the line but the ball was recycled quickly, and it was number eight Kaydan Michael who powered over to the delight of the Tregorrick faithful. Matt Shepherd’s touchline conversion meant that a penalty was no longer good enough for the visitors. The Saints managed to see out the final two minutes without any major dramas to secure all five points in a 27-23 victory.

The win now put the Saints just two points away from retaining their level five status and they will have to wait two-weeks for the opportunity to achieve it with yet another free Saturday in an increasingly staccato season. Former National Two side Weston-super-Mare will be making their first ever visit to Tregorrick on Saturday 16th March 2024, kick-off at 2:30pm. It promises to be another tense and nervous affair with both sides’ desperate for the league points.

Saints Star Man: Scott Pearce – It has been a remarkable journey from his conversion to prop forward as an emergency replacement due to injuries to becoming the first choice tighthead after only his third appearance for the Saints. A dominant display in the tight, Scott was a rumbustious presence around the park always looking for the ball with some swashbuckling carries to the Saints on the front foot.

1 Matt Boothby; 2 Miles Davey; 3 Scott Pearce; 4 Joe Maunder; 5 Tony Knightl; 6 Rhys Daniel; 7 Cam Taylor; 8 Kayden Michael; 9 CJ Boyce; 10 Chris Ashwin; 11 Dan Tyrrell; 12 Jamie Stanlake ; 13 Sam Parsons (Captain); 14 Max Bullen; 15 Matt Shepherd

Reps (All used):
Peter Harris; Ben Plummer; Dan Job

St Austell:
Tries – Dan Tyrrell (10, 38); Penalty Try (42); Kaydan Michael (76)
Cons – Matt Shepherd (77)
Pens – Matt Shepherd (65)
Yellow card – Chris Ashwin (60); CJ Boyce (61)

Tries – Brandon Horn (6); Kevin Dennis (35, 63)
Cons – Luke Simmons (7)
Pens – Luke Simmons (4, 72)
Yellow card – Nathan Tomkins (42)

Referee: Oli Carey (Bristol RRS)

Match details

Match date

Sat 02 Mar 2024




Regional 1 South West

League position

St Austell
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Kit & Matchday Sponsor - Sharps Molson Coors
Player Sponsor - Coastal Building and Joinery LTD
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Player and programme Sponsor - The Hewas Inn
Player Sponsor - Duke of Cornwall Supporters Club
Player Sponsor - Rebellion Roast House & Moonshine Bar
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After Match Shirts / Player  - Adam Kellow Plastering
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Kit Sponsors - Cornwall Mortgages
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