The Bulls travelled home disappointed with the final result. But, heads could be held high as the game was in the balance until the final quarter of an hour.
Despite 11 changes to last week’s starting 15, St. Ives started the game well. Using the strong wind to pin Dunstablians in their own half, the pack spotted the lack of close in defence and drove directly to gain ground.
The first scrum of the match saw a powerful surge, which appeared to leave the home prop in a great deal of pain. We wish him well as he took no further part in the game. The pattern was set however. Before 10 minutes were on the clock, the Bulls scrum marched Dees back for Ollie Bartlett to score a pushover try. Jim Robinson added the extras.
The hosts playing the ball wide with purposeful direct running gained ground and put Ives under pressure. The makeshift back line held firm. Having eschewed a number of overlaps, often due to the smart defensive pressure from centres Greg Dale and Jack Blackley, Dees finally got the ball wide and scored in the corner.
Valiant defence continued to frustrate the home side. The thin blue line was finally breached on the other wing. The Bulls responded immediately with a well struck penalty by Robinson. Half time 10-10.
A lack of concentration almost immediately after the restart allowed Dunstablians a gift in the corner. Then, using the wind to force the Bulls back, a series of 22m drop outs followed. From one such, a good return by the Dees backs with ball in hand saw them score in the corner once more.
In such circumstances, one might have expected an immediate avalanche. But, the Bulls pack, led superbly by skipper Josh Dear who had an outstanding game both in the set piece and loose, took the game by the scruff of the neck. For the next 15 minutes, the Bulls kept things tight and dominated the home pack. Marching upfield and following a series of scrum and maul penalties they gained their reward.
The visitors drove another scrum fully 15m for Bartlett to score his second pushover try. The engine room of Luke Myers and Matt Wood was in fine form. Credit must also go to Dear and his front row colleagues, Tommy Newman and Stuart James.
With 15 minutes remaining and only 5 points in it, the game was afoot. Sadly for the Bulls, fatigue set in and a few poor choices in attack gave Dunstablians easy ball with which to attack. Their fleet footed backs made hay and ran in 4 unanswered tries in the final few minutes.
It was a sad end to a stirring effort by the Bulls, who will regroup and look forward to their final pre-Christmas home match.
Special mentions for three debutants, under-17s Will Nelson and Jack Robinson, and League convert Liam Harrison, who all acquitted themselves well and indicate the future potential of the Club.