St Ives and Huntingdon shrug off the teeth of a gale to record big victories
- Credit: PAUL COX
An excellent first-half performance at Leicester Vipers gave St Ives a much-needed victory in Midlands Two East (South).
Despite playing into a howling gale in the first-half, they turned round 5-3 ahead, stretching clear in the second period to record a 27-13 win.
That first 40 minutes was encapsulated by a superb defensive effort, even playing 10 minutes with a man short.
The culprit, Michael Sykes, was one of those who led the way on his return to the field, instrumental in turning over much possession, while good hands across the backs put Cullan Smy, in to space, catching up with a kick ahead first.
The second period saw Ives rewarded for their first half efforts with further tries.
Sykes, Dip Adams and Tom Woodrow all breached the gain-line but it was Mike Brennan who got number two and Mitch Newman added the extras.
Vipers did pull one back but that was cancelled out by Joe Cox darting over from close range and Smy's second plus a fifth from Alex Henly completed a great day that even a second Vipers try couldn't spoil.
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Huntingdon & District made up ground one one of the teams above them thanks to a 24-15 win at home to Luton.
A pre-match lunch at the Racecourse swelled the watching crowd and the players responded well with an absorbing contest in Midlands Three East (South).
The Stags played into the wind in the first half and would have been delighted to turn round just three points behind.
That had been achieved thanks to a Sam Hirons try, the fly-half reacting to good pressure in the midfield and a spill from a Luton hand to hack through and gather the bouncing ball.
After the break though, and with the conditions in their favour, they took the game to Luton on the back of some disciplined defence.
Using the wind to get field position, good early pressure led to Barnie West diving over in the corner while the third Stags' try was a gem, the team retaining the ball through multiple phases before Charlie Saunders put West in for his second, another grubber kick helping the winger.
The bonus-point try was converted by Hirons and although Luton scored a third late on, it was never more than a consolation.
Coach Reggie Reid said: "It was a solid defensive display from all involved. Luton never really played the conditions and the early try in the second half was a great confidence booster for us.
"We still have things to work on still but are improving week on week.
The Stags' second team enjoyed a great game at Old Northamptonians but lost 25-19 to a last-minute try.
St Neots meanwhile are up to third after a 91-0 thumping of Midlands Four East (South) whipping boys Aylestone St James.