1st XV 'Saints'
Sat 16 Mar 2024  ·  Regional 1 South West
St Austell RFC
1st XV 'Saints'
Tries: S Parsons, M Bullen, M Shepherd (2), B Plummer (2)Conversions: M Shepherd (4)Yellow Carded: J Grigg
Saints hit Six to confirm safety

Saints hit Six to confirm safety

Paul Hayes17 Mar - 11:11
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Any lingering fears of relegation were dispelled after a dominant second half display.

St Austell overcame a crippling injury list and a determined opponent to secure the win that ensures Regional One rugby next season. A fascinating game that pitted Weston’s powerful forwards against the Saints’ fluid backline was still in the balance at half time. In the end the home side’s ability to get the ball wide quickly proved decisive, with slick handling and pace delivering three second half tries.

The kick-off was preceded with a minute's applause to honour Amanda Kellow who sadly passed away on Thursday. Amanda and her husband Tony played a huge role in steering the Club through some very difficult times. Their dedication and commitment laid the foundations for the current success being enjoyed at St Austell RFC on and off the pitch.

The game kicked off in gloomy conditions and it was the home side that made the early running. The patience probing was rewarded when Chris Ashwin picked out Sam Parsons amongst a plethora of decoy runners. The Saints centre found his inner Messi with a deft side foot grubber kick that split the defence to score the opening try with 10 minutes gone (5-0).

Minutes later full back Matt Shepherd almost scored a carbon copy, however this time the Weston defence were alert to the danger and won the foot race. Indiscipline at the breakdown was allowing the visitors to build up some momentum and a rolling maul crashed over the line to put them in front as the end of the first quarter approached (5-7). The Saints response was instant, Puppeteer in Chief Chris Ashwin’s sublime pass found Max Bullen swooping in off his wing to blaze a trail to the try line to restore the home lead (12-7).

The penalty count continued to tick upwards and was beginning to test the patience of referee Ciarán Elster and the Bristol based official gave a stern warning to skipper Ben Plummer. The Weston forwards had the bit between their teeth and some strong carries brought them within strike distance. A series of close quarter drives eventually thundered over the line to put the visitors back in front (12-14). The home side were again pinned down in a corner and a collapsed maul led to an inevitable yellow card with hooker Jack Grigg sent to the naughty step. Weston reset their catch and drive to notch their third try and stretch the lead to 12-19.

With half time approaching scrum half CJ Boyce leveraged a strong scrum to send Matt Shepherd on his way to score under the posts. The conversion made it all square at the interval (19-19).

The Saints got off to a nervy start to the second half with visitors applying the early pressure. A crucial turnover by Cam Taylor signposted a change in momentum and a 35m penalty from Matt Shepherd nudged the home side in front (22-19). A flowing break out of the 22 saw Max Bullen take play deep into Weston territory. Plummer, Parsons and Kaydan Micheal were on hand to recycle the ball swiftly forcing defenders to stray offside. The always alert Shepherd spotted the opportunity for a quick tap penalty and feed centre Ben Plummer who squeezed in at the corner (27-19).

A rare visit to the Saints 22 allowed the Weston forwards to rumble again and a series of well executed drives saw them add their fourth try of the day with just over 10 minutes remaining (27-24). The Saints finished proceedings with two superb tries, quick ball from the forwards allowed Chris Ashwin to pick out Max Bullen with a long pass. The flying winger fended off two defenders before passing inside to the supporting Matt Shepherd (34-24).

With time up, Ashwin was at it again this time springing Shepherd into the open spaces, an exchange of passes with Jamie Stanlake had the Saints full back tearing a strip through Weston territory. A perfectly time pass to Ben Plummer allowed the Saints’ skipper to dive in at the corner. Matt Shepherd’s second touch line conversion made the final score 41-24 to delight of the Tregorrick faithful.

The bonus win ensures that the Saints will retain their level five status after a challenging first season in Regional One. The squad has been stretched to its limits with forty players being called upon throughout the season. The unprecedented number of injuries was brought into sharp focus by the fact that Cam Taylor was the only forward who played at Weston in November 2023! The players coming in have grabbed the opportunity with Scott Pearce, Jake Arms and Kaydan Micheal all making the step up with aplomb. To that list can now be added Henry Hutchinson who had an assured Saints debut alongside the experienced Jack Grigg who was a late replacement at hooker.

The pressure is now off, and the Saints can now look forward to the two-remaining league with relish. Next week they travel to second placed Barnstaple (Saturday 23rd March 2024, kick-off at 2:00pm) before the final game of the league season at home to Brixham (Saturday 6th April 2024, kick-off at 3:00pm) .

Saints Star Man: Sam Parsons – Another masterclass from the Saints centre that kept those around him focused on executing the game plan.

1 Matt Boothby; 2 Jack Grigg; 3 Scott Pearce; 4 Jake Arms; 5 Tony Knight; 6 Henry Hutchinson; 7 Cam Taylor; 8 Kayden Michael; 9 CJ Boyce; 10 Chris Ashwin; 11 Dan Tyrrell; 12 Ben Plummer; 13 Sam Parsons (Captain); 14 Max Bullen; 15 Matt Shepherd

Reps (All used):
Jamie Stanlake; Charlie Nicholson; Dan Job

St Austell:
Tries – Sam Parsons (10); Max Bullen (21); Matt Shepherd (38, 78); Ben Plummer (54, 80)
Cons – Matt Shepherd (22, 39, 79, 81)
Pens – Matt Shepherd (52)
Yellow card – Jack Grigg (33)

Tries – Ross Chesher (18); Ashley Russell (27); Gary Carpenter (35, 68)
Cons – George Nuttycombe (19, 28)
Pens –
Yellow card –

Referee: Ciarán Elster (Bristol RRS)

Match details

Match date

Sat 16 Mar 2024




Regional 1 South West

League position

St Austell
Team overview
Further reading

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