Pre-season progress continues with unusual victory for the Bulls in the Percy Walker Challenge
By Phil Brown
Feisty encounter prepares both squads for the coming league matches
Ely and St. Ives took the absence of many regulars to test new combinations in a 4-quartered encounter. Both squads numbered around two dozen, enabling rest periods for players in the warm sunshine which will not be on offer come the full season.
St. Ives started much better than in their previous match and found space to run at the Ely backs. The Bulls starting pack was also dominant and enjoyed shunting their opposition backwards.
Finally making use of an overlap, Will Nelson was released to score in the corner.
Shortly after the kick off, hero Nelson turned villain being deemed to have executed two clothes-line tackles in quick succession. The second led to a penalty try for the Tigers.
During the second quarter the Bulls had to defend for a period. Alex Henly was leading by example with some crunching hits. Forcing a turnover from one such, Cullan Smy hacked the ball upfield, Joe Cox won the foot race and collected to score.
Immediately from the kick off, Ely regained possession and after patient ball retention found a gap out wide to score.
Back came the Ives. Punting a penalty to the corner, the Bulls executed a splendid lineout move which saw Michael Wright crash over.
The tit for tat nature of the game continued. From the kick off, Ives infringed. A quick tap saw the ball fed wide for Ely to equalise.
Ely had another opportunity, but the indefatigable Ollie Bartlett crashed the winger into touch by the corner flag.
As the second was closing, the Bulls whipped the ball wide in their own half. Nelson collected and outsprinted the home defence to score under the posts.
Half time 17-24
Now playing against the elements of breeze and slope, it was Ely’s turn to defend for long periods. Gaining ground, they also chose to kick a penalty to the corner. A break through the midfield saw them score.
Ives had a couple of chances, but a smidgeon of white-line-fever overtook a couple of men and they were not converted to points. Taking matters into his own hands, Will Mandley eventually darted through and scored from close in.
With the temperature rising, a player from each side was selected for a ten minute rest after a large group enjoyed a hug fest which saw the pitch side fence slightly rearranged as the maul that developed careered off the field.
Ely were determined not to lose their grip on the Percy Walker Challenge Cup, which they have held since 1994, apparently. They pounded the Ives’ defence. Superb tackling in the open spaces, notably by Henly, Mandley, Max Flint, George Peacock and Ben Fleming kept the hosts out.
There was still time for the Ives pack to show their forward dominance. Having turned the ball over and hoofed it downfield, Ives set up camp in Tigers’ 22. A series of scrums from penalties followed until finally one stayed up long enough for the Bulls to drive the ball over the line. Bartlett touched down for the final try of the game.
DoR Brown was content with the run out. “This was a great opportunity for the rest of the squad to display their readiness for the upcoming season. Once again, the youngsters who have come through the ranks were particularly impressive, showing they are good for the step up. Happily, we’ll have some selection headaches to sort out in the coming days.”
Squad: Bartlett, Carrington, Cocksedge, Cox, Dale, Dear, Fleming, Flint, Hammond, Henly, Hyde, Mandley W, MacDonald, Nelson, Peacock, Peters, Robinson, Scott O, Sharp, Smy C, Stubbington, Thompson, Tuckwood, Wright M, Young.