Bulls Down and Out
Midlands 5 East (South) St Ives Bulls 8 Stoneygate 12 ST IVES hit rock bottom after this defeat against Stoneygate which — a loss compounded by a two-point deduction for Saints after failing to field a side against Stamford. Now officially relegated, Bull
Midlands 5 East (South)
St Ives Bulls 8 Stoneygate 12
ST IVES hit rock bottom after this defeat against Stoneygate which - a loss compounded by a two-point deduction for Saints after failing to field a side against Stamford.
Now officially relegated, Bulls captain Pete Hammond said: "The only thing that the deduction means is that we are likely to be relegated as bottom club, with two relegated we would have been down with our position of second from bottom."
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The visit of Stoneygate was never going to easy and Saints hoped to avoid the performance they put out last time these two teams met - a very one sided and violent affair.
As it was, this time out St Ives were denied the victory in a close fought match by one defensive mistake and a controversial refereeing decision.
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The tone of the game was set early on, with strong hits being put in and some ferocious rucking and counter-rucking from both sides.
First blood nearly went to Stoneygate when Ives were penalised at a ruck but a poor kick let the home side of the hook.
St Ives then went on the offensive with a series of powerful mauls marching them down the pitch. From the pressure Ives eventually gained a penalty and Gareth Drakes made no mistake to put the home side 3-0 in front.
Some contested refereeing decisions went against Hammond's men but having weathered the storm Ben Pinion played a beautiful chip and chase and won the race for a touchdown to give the home side a deserved 8-0 lead.
Stoneygate bounced back but looked to have made a hash of a move when a pass was made that went a long way forward.
To the home side's amazement the referee waved play on and the equally surprised Stoneygate player accepted his good fortune to score an unconverted try.
The second half was played in much the same light as the first and with the slender 8-5 lead the home side looked to increase their advantage but could find no way through the Stoneygate line.
The visitors did get the break as a defensive lapse allowed them time and space to cross the try line and they made no mistake from the conversion to lead 12-8.
Hammond then came to the rescue to deny the visitors another score before a late Ives surge looked certain to rescue the game.
Once again the move was halted by an officious referee who could give no clear reason for the penalty but it allowed Stoneygate the chance to clear and walk away with the spoils.
Speaking after the match, Hammond said: "It has been a disappointing season but the lads have given their all.
"We lost the whole back division at the start of the campaign as they drifted off to university and inexperience has been the major factor in our struggle. The drop in level for next year will help us re-establish a fighting unit."
n St Ives' next - and final - game of the season is against league leaders Market Harborough on April 12.