RUGBY: Double-winning St Ives bring up the century to complete the finest season in club history
- Credit: Archant
Head coach Phil Brown has spoken of his joy following the finest season in St Ives history.
The Midlands Division Three East (South) and Midlands Senior Vase double-winners brought the curtain down on a memorable campaign by reaching a century of league points last Saturday. Table-topping St Ives beat Rushden & Higham 29-10 in their final outing at Somersham Road.
Brown said: “It is without doubt the greatest season in our small club’s history – and one which has truly exceeded expectations.
“Promotion was the goal and to achieve that by winning the league is hugely pleasing. Lifting the Midlands Senior Vase was not only a true bonus, it also gave the guys the belief they needed to close out the season on top.
“I share the humble pride of all involved, from chairman Mark Smy down to the Under 7 coaches readying the Bulls of the future.
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“But the word that really comes to mind is joy – that’s for the spectators who have played or coached for the club in the past; the senior players who have been at the club as minis and are now holding senior silverware; our coaches John Naylor, Paul Ashbridge and Max Dominy who have helped make it happen and the playing squad who have shown such commitment.
“It’s likely that the achievement won’t fully sink in until we receive the league trophy some time later this month.”
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A much-changed St Ives side eased into a 12-0 half-time lead against Rushden & Higham thanks to tries from the returning Gabriel Edwards and Albiee Tayedzerwa – the first of which was converted by Ashbridge.
Rushden hit back in the second half with a try despite being a man down, but Ashbridge converted a try of his own to keep the hosts on top.
Tayedzerwa then raced in to touch down a second time and earn the bonus point that took his team into three figures for the season.
Tom Watts added the final Bulls try before Rushden grabbed a last-gasp consolation.
Even though St Ives, who finished 20 points clear of closest challengers Vipers, are yet to fully celebrate their triumphs of 2017-18 – the club stage their awards bash this Saturday evening – they are already preparing for the future.
Brown added: “We held a coaching review a month ago as we know life will be tough in the league above.
“We’ve identified some gaps in our approach and we also recognise the need to make our second XV the best in the county to help maintain the progress at first-team level.
“Plans are afoot and we’re confident we can cause some surprises next season.”
Among St Ives’ opponents next term in Midlands Division Two East (South) will be Huntingdon.
The relegated Stags were beaten 19-5 by Melton Mowbray at The Racecourse in their final Midlands Division One East outing. Roger Shakespeare provided their solitary try.