RUGBY: Fitness comes to the fore as free-scoring St Ives deliver a late flourish to continue their stunning streak

PUBLISHED: 08:47 05 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:12 10 December 2017

Paul Ashbridge scored a hat-trick of tries as St Ives demolished Stockwood Park. Picture: PAUL COX

Paul Ashbridge scored a hat-trick of tries as St Ives demolished Stockwood Park. Picture: PAUL COX

Paul Cox

The hard summer yards are paying dividends in St Ives’ winter quest for glory.

Tom Watts touched down during St Ives' rout of Stockwood Park. Picture: PAUL COX Tom Watts touched down during St Ives' rout of Stockwood Park. Picture: PAUL COX

That’s the view of director of rugby Phil Brown following his table-topping side’s biggest Midlands Division Three East (South) win to date.

The Bulls ran in 10 tries during a 68-12 blitz of Stockwood Park at Somersham Road to reel off a ninth successive league victory. Their winning streak now stands at 13 games in all competitions this season.

Half of those scores arrived in the final quarter of the contest and led to high praise for Brown’s coaching team of John Naylor, Paul Ashbridge and Max Dominy.

“We worked really hard in pre-season and the improved fitness is now showing in games as we are able to perform for the full 80 minutes,” said Brown.

Captain Ollie Bartlett ran in a try for St Ives against Stockwood Park last Saturday. Picture: PAUL COX Captain Ollie Bartlett ran in a try for St Ives against Stockwood Park last Saturday. Picture: PAUL COX

“Scoring so many tries so late in the game on Saturday was a prime example of that. The enthusiasm the coaches have instilled in the players is wonderful to see.”

St Ives were not at their best in the opening half, but still ran in four tries while their visitors crossed the line on two occasions before the break.

The first Bulls score arrived in their first attack and provided the first part of a hat-trick for player-coach Ashbridge. Duncan Williams and Ollie Raine also got in on the act before Ashbridge sealed the bonus point with his second touchdown.

Tommy Newman dotted down to keep the scoreboard ticking over early in the second half, but it wasn’t until just after the hour that the floodgates really opened with tries galore.

Skipper Bartlett was the beneficiary of a surging Raine break, Ollie Jones gratefully gathered a grubber kick from Naylor and Tom Watts crashed through the last line of defence. Ashbridge then completed his treble before fluffing the simplest of his 10 conversion attempts - the other nine were all successful.

The Bulls saved the best until last as Drake darted in under the posts following a move in which Gabriel Edwards, Jack Blackley and Albiee Tayedzerwa all contributed well.

Brown added: “The first half showed that all teams in this league can play when allowed to do so. We had a bit of a jolt early on, but adjusted and the way we played in the final quarter was a delight to witness.”

Another local team saw a perfect league start come to an end last Saturday.

Midlands Division Four East (South) table-toppers St Neots were beaten 40-14 at Lincolnshire side Bourne.

Clive Carrington and Rhod Howcroft provided the St Neots tries with Lewis Hall sending over both conversion attempts.

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