Bulls complete ten try rout
By Phil Brown
Fun in the sun for much-changed sides
Sunshine and the firm pitch presented ideal conditions for running rugby. With S&L suffering a club bout of the lurgy and Ives with many injury-enforced changes there was an unfamiliar look to the teams as they took to the park.
There was nothing unfamiliar about the opening exchanges, however. Ives played with the ball in hand and made steady progress upfield. Good ball retention and speed of delivery stretched the visiting defence until Paul Ashbridge
espied a gap and burst through to open the scoring.
There followed S&L’s best patch of the game. For 15 minutes they kept Ives penned in their own half. Eschewing kickable penalty opportunities, they attempted to squeeze the home defence with a series of lineouts close in. Ives defence was up to the task and repelled each attack, with Matt Wood
and Jack Hickman
throwing themselves into the fray.
Finally breaking the siege, Ives clawed their way back upfield. A number of phases finally saw Bradley Robinson
go over for the score.
From the kick off, S&L knocked the ball on. Ives were in no mood to await the whistle and an excellent transition saw Alex Henly
, Ashbridge and John Paxton
whip the ball across the pitch. Warwick Brittany
was left with enough space to sprint in from his own half.
Ives were now playing with confidence. Only a couple of misplaced passes and knock ons prevented scores until the half hour.
With the S&L defence once again stretched, Pete Fahey thought he had been put in by Mickey Drake
, only to be brought back for a forward pass. The referee had been playing a penalty advantage to Ives, and the alert Chris Williams tapped and dived over from the mark.
With the try bonus point in the bag and all tries converted, Ives defended a spirited series of drives by the visitors as the half close 28-0.
Ives began the second half as they started the first. Good ball retention and continuity between forwards and backs eventually saw Ashbridge cross for his second.
Immediately from the kick off, Ives were on the attack again. Ashbridge released Tommy Newman
through a gap. Newman, who enjoyed a fine game in the set-piece and in the loose, sold a delightful dummy and delayed pass to put Robinson in for an easy second.
The next try was another example of a quick transition. S&L had been on the attack, but a grubber through was over-egged and the ball went dead. John Naylor
was the first to react, taking a quick-22 and giving Drake space to run. Paxton was in support and surged downfield, drawing the last man and putting the ever-supporting Ollie Raine
in for the try.
S&L’s pride was amply demonstrated as they continued to attack through their forwards. Another penalty was kicked to the corner setting up a maul opportunity. Time and again, they got to within inches of the Ives line, but stout defence, notably by stand-in skipper Josh Dear
kept them out. After some minutes pounding in the forwards, S&L decided to spin the ball wide. It paid dividends as a slip and miss in midfield allowed the centre through for a consolation score.
The Bulls were sparked back into life and played the remainder of the game in the visitors’ half.
Dave Sharp went close after a series of pick and goes by the Ives pack, and did enough to keep the ball live for Williams to collect and go over for his second.
With ten minutes remaining, S&L threw caution to the wind and attempted to run from deep in their own half. The ball found its way to the wing only to be dropped. Brittany swept up the loose ball and cantered in unopposed.
With the game almost done, Brittany achieved his hattrick after some classy handling by Drake and Henly. With 5 metres to work in, he skipped past all attempted tackles and touched down between the sticks.
Completing a fine day with the boot, Ashbridge added his ninth conversion.
Skipper Dear was a very satisfied man after the match. “We did some really good things today and we got back on the bike really well after the disappointment of our last outing. We kept our concentration and we’ll take those things forward as we prepare for the tough match we face next weekend.”