RUGBY: Stunning year ends in narrow defeat for St Ives

Tommy Newman was one of the try-scorers for St Ives as they lost at Bugbrooke. Picture: PAUL COX

Tommy Newman was one of the try-scorers for St Ives as they lost at Bugbrooke. Picture: PAUL COX - Credit: Archant

The finest year in St Ives’ history ended in an agonising defeat in atrocious weather.

The Bulls were beaten by a single point when going down 21-20 at Bugbrooke in Midlands Division Two East (South) last Saturday.

It was just a third loss of a fine debut season at this level – following on from title glory at Division Three level last term – and they sit third in the standings.

Miserable conditions didn’t prevent an entertaining clash from unfolding with the two sides sharing four tries in the opening half.

St Ives ended it with a 13-10 advantage despite twice being behind. Their points arrived courtesy of a Paul Ashbridge penalty which was followed by touchdowns from Ollie Raine and Tommy Newman.

Ashbridge saw his conversion attempt after the latter score hit the post on an afternoon when a ferocious wind and driving rain made kicking nigh on impossible.

Strong running was much the order of the day and one such burst from Duncan Williams looked set to earn St Ives another try early in the second half only for the referee to deem the pass into the big Bulls man had been forward.

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Bugbrooke made the most of that left-off to storm upfield and score in the corner and added two penalties – both of which left St Ives feeling aggrieved - to open up an eight-point advantage with a quarter-of-an-hour to go.

The Bulls responded well to those setbacks as Ashbridge powered over the line following driving runs from Matt Wood and Williams and a successful Jim Robinson conversion pulled them back to within a point of their hosts.

But they couldn’t break through again despite applying plenty of late pressure as Bugbrooke held on for victory.

“We possibly tried to play a bit too much rugby in the conditions,” said St Ives player-coach John Naylor.

“But we’ll take the result on the chin, learn from it and take out our frustration on our next opponents.”

They are Huntingdon when the Midlands Division Two East (South) season resumes on January 5.