2nds Snatch Victory
By Thomas Riches
St. Ives leave it late to grab precious win
With the second team captain Jim Robinson absent, it was left to vice-captain Thomas Riches to take the squad over to Shelford for the penultimate league game of the season. Shelford kicked the game off, only for the referee to pull it back, as a number of players were stood in front of the kicker. St.Ives began to go through the phases, good ball retention and patterns were giving us good field position, but these were halted either by penalties or handling errors.
Struggling with the speed in which the seconds play their rugby, Shelford's defence finally cracked, with a well worked move seeing the ball go through many hands, creating gaps which Joseph Cox easily burst through, before passing to the supporting Rick Peters, who still had work to do, finishing well in the corner. Mitch Newman, playing at 10 and in charge of kicking duties, was faced with his first and most challenging kick of the day, only to see the ball come back off the post. Shelford 0-5 St.Ives
Following such a positive start the Bulls struggled to get a firm grip of the game, with a large number of penalties creeping in, which put a stop to any momentum St.Ives were building. Finally, the pressure of having to defend for such a long period of time saw St.Ives concede another penalty 10 metres out. Shelford were first to react, and took a quick tap penalty and crashed over for their first score of the game, conversion scored. Shelford 7 – 5 St.Ives.
The remainder of the half was played in a similar fashion, despite great work from the line out, with Alex Fry throwing in well, seeing both the likes of Finlay Ruddock and Brandon McDonald plucking the ball high in the air, giving the backs a great platform to run some moves, good disruption from number 9 Greg Dale gave Mitch the time and space to cleverly pick his passes, but all the good work would frustratingly end with a handling error or penalty. With only seconds left on the clock, Shelford began piling on the pressure once again, with strong tackles being made just inside the 22 metre mark, the referee deemed that yet another penalty was conceded by St.Ives. Shelford opted to have a go for the posts and made no mistake, bringing the first half to a close.
Half time Shelford 10-5 St.Ives
St.Ives gathered together to discuss what was going wrong, but firmly agreed to stick with the game plan. With the game ready to continue some personnel changes were made, with LIam Harrison coming on for Tim Lumley Good and Graeme Stubbington making way for Ben West. St.Ives rallying again started to move the ball well, noticing gaps appearing the backs started to make some yards, with the powerful runs from Callum Long and David Skyes, we started to gain some much need territory. The pack were moving well around the park hitting rucks and taking the ball into to contact strongly, giving the opportunity for a kick over the Shelford defence, Joe cox gave chase only for the bounce of the ball to be unkind, and proving too difficult for joe to gather, resulting in a knock on. Shelford were greatly let off at this point, otherwise a certain try under the posts would have been scored. This was soon to be repeated as Fin Ruddock was chasing the ball over the top, in front of the posts, only for the ball to bounce awkwardly again and the chance was lost.
St.Ives, now getting more and more frustrated with errors stopping any kind of rhythm, and seeing Shelford gaining more territory, going through the phases was finally rewarded as Shelford's 12 took a hard line well, and stormed his way to the line, try converted. 17-5
St.Ives now had to reset, and go again, knowing they were doing the right things but just not getting the rub of the green, time however was not on their side with fifteen minutes to go and twelve points behind. Another change was made with Greg dale taking a well-earned rest, replaced by Jack Webb. Once again Shelford were back within the St.Ives 22, but good play from the backs, quickly shipping the ball out wide, with a drifting St.Ives defence left a one on one with both teams wingers, Callum Long provided a fantastic try saving tackle 1 metre from the try line, the rest of the Bulls defence quickly relined and repelled the Shelford pick and go’s before forcing a knock on, huge relief from St.Ives was felt across the park, knowing that the game would have been put beyond them if that try been scored.
Ten minutes were left on the clock and finally things were starting to go in our favour, great ball in hand running from Finnaly Ruddock started to create lots of space, Stuart James and Andrew Grieve making sure the ball was well secured allowing it to be shipped out in the midfield, Shelford could only start to break up the play illegally, by this point the lineout was proving to be less successful, so a trade mark tap and go penalty from David Sykes, within the 10 metre line couldn’t be stopped, a huge score for St.Ives. Mitch Newman remained cool and slotted a tricky conversion. 17-12
A number of St.Ives' players now frantically asking the referee how long was left, five minutes was the reply. Shelford, determined not to let the lead slip, tried to maintain possession, but weren't successful with great line speed in defence from St.Ives leading to a crucial turn over, saw the ball go through the hands before releasing joe cox to go on a jinking run, fixing the last defender and slipping the ball to the charging Rick Peters to finish under the posts, huge cheers followed when Mitch slotted the following conversion. St.Ives were now back in front, with 2 minutes to go. Shelford 17-19 St. Ives.
Shelford now had nothing to lose, throwing everything at the St.Ives defence, but they could not find a way through. Camped just inside the St.Ives half, the last play had already been called by the referee, the Bulls happy to see the clock ticking into the red - only for a penalty to be awarded to Shelford. The tee was brought onto the field of play; a strong breeze was in the aid of a kick, but still with awful lot to do. St.Ives positioned themselves around the post ready for any scenario of play. Hearts were in mouths, up stepped the kicker, having connected with the ball well, and looking like he was on the cusp of winning the game, the ball dropped short and rolled out of play.
Huge jubilation from all those either playing or supporting St.Ives was felt, every player congratulating one another, knowing that they weren’t at their best today, but sticking together and trusting the game plan left them victorious.