Gallery: St Ives I 6 St Neots I 8
ST NEOTS secured the Midlands Six East (South) league title with a narrow victory over local rivals St Ives on Saturday. The scrappy game saw the hosts get an early try disallowed before both teams pressed hard. St Ives opened the scoring when they were
ST NEOTS secured the Midlands Six East (South) league title with a narrow victory over local rivals St Ives on Saturday.
The scrappy game saw the hosts get an early try disallowed before both teams pressed hard. St Ives opened the scoring when they were awarded a penalty that was converted by Jack Blackley to give them a slender lead. The visitors' spread was unable to break through the Ives, and another penalty was soon awarded and again converted by Blackley to put the home side 6-0 ahead at the interval.
St Neots piled on the pressure at the start of the second half and spent 15 minutes in Ives' half only to see repeated try attempts thwarted. Their strong play frustrated Ives, who saw James Cannon and acting captain Ross Thompson both sin-binned in quick succession.
The visitors utilised the numerical advantage and substitute Sam Peel broke the stalemate after receiving the ball on the 22-metre line and running down the side to score in the corner and put St Neots within a point of the Ives. The conversion was missed but another surge of sustained pressure saw St Neots awarded a penalty from five metres after a high tackle on Adam Porter. Lewis Hall stepped up to convert the spot kick and send St Neots into the lead for the first time in the game.
St Ives rallied for a final attack and were awarded a penalty. Blackley stepped up for the kick but was unable to compensate for the strong winds and the shot sailed just wide, and with it St Ives' chance to end St Neots' undefeated season.
Injured St Ives captain Bryan Richardson said: "St Neots have been the most consistent team all season, but it was a very close game and the score says it all. I'm incredibly proud of the side today and everyone gave it everything. We'll take them next year given the opportunity though.