Disappointing first half leaves Ives with far too much to do
By Phil Brown
Improved second half performance shows the way forward
Ives were sent packing by Belgrave in an error-strewn first half display. Preparation for the match had been disrupted by last minute selection changes, but praise to those who stepped up. Fin Ruddock, making his first appearance for the 1st XV after some excellent displays for 2nds, acquitted himself well. Mitch Newman kicked well from hand and added a tricky conversion late on. And Jack Webb added energy and zest on replacing the returning but unfortunately injured Greg Dale early in the match.
Ives could not have made a worse start. Having fielded the ball well from the kick off, they were executing a calm exit when a hurried pass in midfield was knocked on. From the scrum, a simple transference ended with the right wing scoring in the corner.
The Bulls responded immediately. Making their way to the opposition 22m they forced a knock on. A great scrum led to Ollie Raine picking up from the base. The defence had no answer to the attack, and it was Raine himself who scored out to the right.
With the sun beating down and the ground hard, there was a feeling of a seven aside match as Belgrave came back to score again, three match tries with the game not ten minutes old. Ives had exited well, but gifted possession away on the halfway, compounding the error by conceding a penalty. Following a kick to the corner, Belgrave could not get over the line with their maul, but a series of drives ultimately saw them score.
Ives were determined to get back in to the game. In the process, Dale received a heavy knock and was replaced by Webb. Some risky offload attempts by Ives led to Belgrave kicking through. In stemming the turnover, Ives scrambling defence infringed. Belgrave chose to scrummage and again, finding no way through upfront, span the ball wide and scored again.
For ten minutes, Ives had decent possession, but made no real headway up the slope. Disaster then struck as a promising move was well read by the home defence. An interception in midfield led to a score under the posts at the other end against the momentum at that point.
With the journey finally out of their systems, Ives began to play with some continuity. Warwick Brittany
was released out wide, but an innocuous looking tackle ended with him leaving the field through injury, to be replaced by the enthusiastic Rick Peters
Again, a little impatience led to Ives over playing and Belgrave kicked through. It was then the hosts that infringed, and Ives kicked to touch with relief. Looking to see out the half and regroup, an overthrow for the last play of the period, saw Belgrave swoop on the loose ball and score there fifth try.
Half time 29-5
Tightening up at the start of the second half, both in attack and defence, paid dividends for the Ives as they showed a lot more patience with ball in hand and began to test their opponents. Stout defence kept them away from the red zone, however.
Belgrave received a couple of penalty awards enabling them to break the siege, and as the third quarter was closing entered Ives 22. A quarter-back style pass was fielded by the over-running centre and, with most players pausing, the centre continued on his merry way to the try line.
With the game beyond them, Ives stepped up the energy levels again. Joe Cox joined the fray and was released in space. Hurtling down the wing the last pass was gathered and taken into touch by Belgrave.
The lineout functioned well, and tommy newman
planted himself at the back of the well-set maul and dotted down.
Belgrave finished the match well. Without some extraordinary scrambling defence, in particular by Raine, they would have finished more opportunities. As it was their last try of the match was a result of returning a chip over the top by Ives with some good support leading to the final score.
The Bulls were naturally disappointed after the match. Brown noted, “Belgrave didn’t have to work too hard for their lead in the first half, which is unlike us. We played much better in the second half and can be happy with the impact of the youngsters who threw themselves into the game. Obviously, promotion is no longer possible, but the lads can be very happy with the season already and are looking to finish strongly. We owe Bugbrooke one after the very close game at theirs, so will look forward to that next week, in our final home game of the season.”