Following more heavy rain, the game went ahead on Ives’ drained pitch with the surrounding areas under water. The conditions were, to put it mildly, heavy underfoot and resulted in a match which exhausted the players on both sides.
The match was not helped by a very strong wind directly across the pitch. Lineout throwing was a lottery and with the arbiter demanding perfection, the first 30 minutes saw both sides struggle to alter the pattern of kick, lineout, scrum.
Ives had a couple of half chances in these early exchanges but could not convert territory into points.
What turned out to be the match’s only score was the result of a series of penalties awarded to Buckby, who gradually made their way down the touchline to within 5 metres of the Ives line. Ives defence held firm for a few minutes, but ultimately the pressure told as good ball retention saw Bucky over for a score in the corner.
Ives fought back upfield and camped in opposition space for the remainder of the half. Unfortunately, there was no way to breach the visitors’ defence and the half finished 0-5.
With the slope in the second half, Ives began to exert pressure but could not get to the red zone. On the 50-minute mark, Ives had the Bucky defence stretched when a knock on meant the chance was lost.
The siege was relieved and Buckby surged upfield. Ives defended their own line stoutly. Sadly for Finn Ruddock, who was at the heart of the effort, he got caught in a ruck and suffered a nasty knee injury. All will wish him well for a speedy recovery.
Bucky continued to press and span the ball wide. Usually involved at the other end of the park, Albiee Tayedzerwa kept Ives in the match with 2 try saving tackles out wide, one ably assisted by the returning Matt Wood.
Having absorbed their own period of pressure, Ives turned the table and fought their way downfield with a series of driving runs and good close interplay involving the heavy guns up front of Duncan Williams, Josh Dear and Tommy Newman and the direct running if Paul Ashbridge and Alex Henly in the centre.
During one foray, match skipper suffered a heavy shoulder knock and left the fray. Again, all hope for a speedy recovery.
With final passes going astray, stout defence by Buckby and a lack of composure close to the line, a number of chances went begging for the Bulls and the match ended with victory for the visitors.
The team was naturally disappointed, recognising that the step to success in such close fixtures is in the final execution. With Bugbrooke up next, the team has the opportunity to right some aspects during the week and attack the next match with renewed vigour.