Bulls overcome determined and motivated Deepings
By Phil Brown
Eleven try thriller sees Ives finish the season on a high
With two levels between them in league rugby, the closeness of the Hunts & Peterborough cup final was a surprise to many and made for an entertaining encounter for those hardy enough to brave the gale and hail to spectate.
In Barbarian style, and perhaps with a nod to the Bulls own Josh Meadows who was away sporting his Club socks for his Eastern Counties debut, the Deepings team displayed colourful legwear for the match.
Against the strong wind Ives found themselves penned back for the opening minutes. Determined running by Deepings and some lazy handling by the Ives woke the nominal home side up to the fact that they were in a match.
Ives upped the pace and forced Deepings to concede penalties. A lineout close in was well taken by skipper and joint Players’ Player of the Season Ollie Bartlett
. Joe Cox, in at 9, released John Paxton
, the ball was spun through the hands only for the last pass to go to ground with the line beckoning.
Ives continued the pressure and earned another lineout close in. Again, the ball was served up well by Bartlett and Young Player of the Season Bradley Robinson
crashed over in the corner.
Deepings were immediately on the attack from the kick off as Ives fluffed the kick receipt. Only a thumping tackle on the line by 1st XV Player of the Season Matt Wood
prevented a score. The ball was turned over and Albiee Tayedzerwa was released to sprint 50 metres between defenders. Unfortunately, the last pass to the onrushing support again went to ground and the chance lost.
With a natural end-of-term feel to the activity, Ives were attempting to run from everywhere, whether it be through the pack or midfield, where Alex Henly
was enjoying himself with some forceful running. Deepings defence was good enough to continually force errors in the Ives attacks. With half time approaching it was Ives upfront power which finally led to the next score. Another monumental front row effort by Robinson, Coaches’ Player of the Season Tommy Newman
and joint Players’ Player Josh Dear
was supported by the returning Duncan Williams
and Andrew “I don’t want to play 80” Hutchison.
Having crunched the opposition pack in a scrum in their own 22, Ives broke way upfield through Paul Ashbridge
. His offload saw the ball through numerous hands finally reaching Tayedzerwa who rounded to score in the corner.
With the half almost over, Ives collective handling clicked. Tayedzerwa and Ben Fleming
were heavily involved as the side made its way upfield. Paxton espied a gap and ran through to score. With the conversion, Ives were 17-0 up at half time.
The Bulls started the second half with gusto. More good, close handling and ball presentation saw Ashbridge finally break through to score.
Any thoughts that the afternoon was turning into a stroll were quickly dispelled as Ives discipline deserted them. Deepings had invited a number of fresh legs on to the field at half time and hard, direct running saw them gain ground through relaxed tackles. At the breakdown, Ives fell foul of the arbiter and conceded a series of penalties, which gave away territory and resulted in a try for Deepings. The Deepings 10’s kicking was a class above and he slotted the difficult conversion against the wind.
As oft times this season, the concession of a try spurred the Bulls to greater intensity. A great steal in the tackle followed by an offload by Paxton enabled Dear to truck up towards the try line. The ball was whipped wide to Pete Fahey who executed a delightful chip over the last defender, recovered the ball on the bounce and ran under the posts.
At this point the hail stated to bounce higher than had Fahey’s chip and both sides suffered from chilled hands and dropsy during the few minutes deluge. Deepings were gaining ground with their back play and on more than one occasion only great last man defence by Fleming and Tayedzerwa halted their progress.
Fahey took a knock to the face and was replaced by 2nd XV Player of the Season David Sykes
, making his 1sts debut.
As the sun struggled to reassert itself on the proceedings, Ives again found themselves on the wrong end of the whistle. A quickly taken penalty saw them lay siege to the Bulls line, finally crashing over in the corner. Again, the conversion was successful from wide out.
Deepings were sensing a great upset and began to run with confidence and ball in hand. A couple of weak arms enabled them to charge upfield. Good handling and interplay saw them break the Ives defensive line and, after the conversion, bring the score to within ten points.
With Newcomer of the Season Jack Hickman
having as always run himself into the ground, Adam Scott
was introduced into the back row.
Having seen their 2nd XV colleagues win silverware last week, the Bulls were in no mood to give up the opportunity. A great series of phases saw holes punched in the Deepings defence the final dart by Ashbridge putting the Top Try Scorer of the Season debate to bed as he scored his second.
2nd XV skipper-elect Tom Riches joined the party on the wing.
Deepings would not lie down. From the kick off they regained possession and rather than spin the ball wide, made their way towards the line. Eventually they reached it and dotted down to again bring the score to that 10-point gap with five minutes to play.
The final word went to St. Ives. With an effort typical of this great season, the ball was kept live through numerous phases. Fleming was released in space and drew the last man, giving the supporting Henly honour of planting the Bulls final try of the season over the whitewash.
Bartlett could reflect on a great season for the Bulls. “That was much tougher than we expected, so we are delighted with the win. We can take the winners’ shield back to the Club to celebrate, then enjoy a well earned rest for the summer.”