The match was always going to be a game of two halves with the gale force wind blowing straight down the slope at Somersham Road.
The visitors immediately declared their hand by running from deep against the elements. It was to be a mistake as Jack “Burglar” Blackley swooped on a loose pass from the Daventry centre to score a fine interception try in the first minutes. Jim Robinson stepped up to convert.
Both teams were to find that playing with the wind tricky as passes were blown away from reaching hands. So it was that Daventry maintained good territory in the St. Ives half after a couple of knock-ons by the hosts ceded possession. The men in black pounded the Ives line. Robinson was binned for lying across the tackled player just short of the line.
Daventry scented blood and redoubled their efforts. But, excellent defence across the park kept them out.
As Robinson returned, the momentum shifted back to the Bulls. Daventry attempted to maul the ball upfield from their own 22. The returning Mickey Blackley superbly stole the ball, which was released wide for Ollie Bartlett to score in the corner.
The visitors continued to play good rugby into the wind, but could not breach the Bulls’ defence. The half finished at 12-0.
The second period showed tremendous discipline by the Bulls. Having seen the Daventry 10’s early kick for touch end up behind him, Ives decided to operate with a self-imposed “no kicking” rule. Even though Daventry knew what was coming, they could not prevent Ives from progressing upfield.
Driving play led by the excellent Duncan Williams, ably supported by the rest of the pack, continually made ground. After one such series of offloading and quick rucking phases, Robinson released Phil Kneeshaw on the left. Kneeshaw kept the ball from contact and slipped a lovely inside ball to the onrushing Bartlett who sprinted to score. Against the wind, Robinson slotted an excellent conversion.
Daventry fought back and were finally rewarded with a try in the left hand corner following some slick handling.
Whilst the remainder of the game was largely played in the Bulls’ half, the possession stats probably showed 80% in their favour. The patience, controlled aggression and ball protection was exemplary. An increasingly frustrated Daventry pack began to ship penalties and could take no advantage of the elements being with them.
Skipper Dear commented, “When we play like this and implement the right rugby for the conditions, we’re tough to beat. It was a great performance by the lads.”
(NB Score being verified as incorrect score has been posted on the match card)