Mixed fortunes for St Ives Bulls and Huntingdon Stags as Midlands rugby union season nears its conclusion
- Credit: Archant
ST IVES will be playing their rugby in Midlands Three East South next season after securing the second promotion spot in their Midlands Four division with a 28-11 win at home to Thorney on Saturday.
But Huntingdon Stags, in the Midlands Two East South division, will now have to wait and see what Bugbrooke do on Saturday after beating Northampton BBOB 84-31.
Huntingdon have been at the top of their table all season but if second-placed Bugbrooke win their game in hand this Saturday – the most likely scenario – the Northamptonshire side will pip Stags to the title and condemn them to an end-of-season promotion play-off against Oakham on May 4.
“We showed some signs of weariness after last week’s loss which was to be expected, but when we found our rhythm the floodgates opened and we played some of the best attacking rugby of the whole season” said head coach Damian Whales.
“Our season isn’t over yet. Assuming Bugbrooke win next week, we will have to play a promotion play-off in a couple of weeks.
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“Hopefully, today’s result gives us the platform to go and succeed there.”
St Ives’ fate was in their own hands at the end of a season that has seen them build on last year’s industry to finish second behind runaway leaders Brackley.
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“The whole season has been about the squad of players all working hard and contributing,” said the captain Jim Robinson. “The end-of-season dinner was a joyous affair as the guys’ celebrated getting promotion in style.”
Tries from Manu Hovette, Russell Warrington, Luke Myers, and Michael Wright secured the win with Max Dominy slotting home two penalties. With head coach Alan Hine away in Finland were he is the country’s national team coach, the shots were called by the injured Paul Ashbridge.
A total of 12 tries were scored by Huntingdon as they cruised to their 84-31 win. There were two each for Seth Muggeridge, Tango Morgan, and Stephen Chantler, and one each for Barney East, Dougal Bentley, Pad Chapman, Jack Skidmore, Rory Parker and Jesse Milne, while ace-kicker Dan Malem converted all 12 tries.
Stags actually trailed the visitors 24-21 after 50 minutes, before going on a try scoring rampage where 63 points were scored in just 30 minutes of breathtaking rugby.
The win meant Stags held on to the top spot in Midlands Two East South, where they have been since the very first week of the campaign, but with Bugbrooke’s game in hand, there will need to be a massive upset next week for the second-placed side not to leapfrog them on the very last day.
Back row players Roger Shakespeare and Rory Parker shared the man of the match award but Whales had special praise for Muggeridge. “I think his brace today means he has won our top league tryscorer award by one from Rory Parker.
“It is an amazing effort for a front rower – he has scored some scintillating tries this year so full credit to him.”
Whales has dismissed any possibly of promotion being secured with a BBOB win over Bugbrooke this weekend, telling The Hunts Post: “BBOB just conceded 80 plus points but secured their safety with a bonus point. See you on May 4.”
The Huntingdon, Mark Garrood, chairman is of the same thinking. “We didn’t see anything from BBOB that would give us any hope that they could beat Bugbrooke,” he said.