RUGBY: Excitement building for St Ives following stunning start to season

Captain Ollie Bartlett ran in a try for St Ives against Stockwood Park last Saturday. Picture: PAUL

Captain Ollie Bartlett ran in a try for St Ives against Stockwood Park last Saturday. Picture: PAUL COX - Credit: Archant

Director of rugby Phil Brown has hailed his St Ives players and coaches following a stunning start to what could be a historic season.

The Bulls are chasing an honours double after reeling off a 13-game winning streak. They have triumphed in all nine Midlands Division Three East (South) outings to date to storm to the top of the standings as they chase title glory at this level for the first time.

And they are also through to the semi-finals of the Midlands Senior Vase after breezing through four rounds of a competition they have never previously won.

“This is all new ground for us,” said Brown. “We’ve never had a streak like this, but it is down to a progression rather than a sudden flash.

“We spent three years fighting relegation at this level and then enjoyed our best-ever finish when third last season.

“The only way to better that is by winning promotion and that is the aim this season. It could not have got off to a better start and the guys deserve all the plaudits that are coming their way.

“It’s a roll that is creating excitement. Training numbers are incredible and there is a terrific buzz around the club.

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“We have a positive problem at selection each week with competition for places and disappointment for people who miss out. That’s not the sort of luxury we’ve had before.

“Half of the team are products of our own system, but we’re also attracting other players who have moved to the area.

“We have solid foundations at the club with a really strong youth set-up which means we are able to progress young players into senior rugby.

“We’ve also extended the clubhouse and improved the pitches in recent years. That has showed the players we are serious about making progress.”

St Ives thumped Stockwood Park 68-12 last Saturday to register their biggest Midlands Division Three East (South) success of the campaign, but Brown is well aware of the need to continue delivering top-notch showings with his men now a prized scalp.

He added: “Everyone is after us now and it is essential we maintain our high level of performance. We must remember that we’re not even halfway through the season yet.

“We’ve got a couple of injuries at the moment and we know others will follow. We expect we will come unstuck at some point, but the current target is staying unbeaten until Christmas.”

The Bulls have two more tests to negotiate to hit that goal. They go to Biggleswade this Saturday and then entertain Daventry in their final 2017 fixture on December 16.