RUGBY: St Ives battle back against Belgrave to continue another ‘special’ season

Ollie Raine scored a hat-trick of tries as St Ives beat Belgrave. Picture: PAUL COX

Ollie Raine scored a hat-trick of tries as St Ives beat Belgrave. Picture: PAUL COX - Credit: Archant

St Ives are dreaming of a second successive promotion after passing a stern Midlands Division Two East (South) test with flying colours last Saturday.

The third-placed Bulls continued a fine debut campaign at this level by seeing off Belgrave 33-15 at Somersham Road to record an eighth victory from their 10 league outings so far this season.

They shrugged off the early loss of influential Mickey Drake, to the effects of a heavy tackle, and a half-time deficit to triumph with Ollie Raine helping himself to a hat-trick of tries.

And it was a result which prompted Bulls flanker Josh Meadows to insist: “This is a special group of players.

“We had a great run last season after coming through a stern test like that we can start to believe we can do something special again this season. It will be hard work, but we know we can still get better.”

Despite the disruption to the back line caused by Drake’s unexpected exit, St Ives hit the front when Raine touched down after the Bulls pack drove their Belgrave counterparts back over their own line following a five-metre scrum.

But the Bulls saw that advantage turn into a 10-5 deficit at half-time after the visitors claimed two tries with Chris Williams tackled agonisingly short of the Belgrave line when attempting to respond.

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While they came up short on that occasion, the home side had no trouble in putting points on the board again when taking command with three tries in the opening 10 minutes of the second period.

The surging runs and accurate kicking of Paul Ashbridge were major factors in St Ives’ success and his boot provided the launchpad for Raine to claim his second try soon after the restart.

And the same player soon completed a terrific treble when the beneficiary of smart work from Pete Fahey, who turned over possession in midfield.

Raine then turned provider as a fine scoring salvo continued. He stole the ball at a line-out before Duncan Williams crashed his way through numerous attempted tackles to score.

With half-an-hour still to play, St Ives appeared to be home and hosed. But Belgrave had other ideas as they attempted to fight back valiantly.

They twice got over the Bulls’ line but were unable to touch down for tries before eventually managing a deserved reply.

But it was the hosts who had the last laugh when Fahey raced round the final defender to claim a fine team try which was followed by a fourth successful conversion of the afternoon from Ashbridge.

The Bulls complete a brilliant 2018 with a trip to mid-table side Bugbrooke this Saturday.