RUGBY UNION: Super start to 2017 for St Ives but defeat hits St Neots’ survival hopes

Rugby coverage from the Hunts Post.

Rugby coverage from the Hunts Post. - Credit: Archant

St Ives launched their mission to secure a top-four finish in Midlands Division Three East (South) in fine style.

That was the target agreed at a players’ meeting over the festive season with the Bulls enjoying their best campaign in recent times.

And it certainly looks to be a realistic goal as a 35-17 triumph against Dunstablians at Somersham Road last Saturday - which featured a hat-trick of tries from Josh Meadows - lifted them up to third in the standings.

Paul Ashbridge kicked St Ives ahead, but they were soon behind after a poor clearance was punished by a Dunstablians try.

The response was impressive and immediate as Meadows provided the finishing touch to a fine team move as the Bulls powered from their own 10-metre line into opposition territory to score.

Ashbridge converted, but a second Dunstablians try ensured the sides were deadlocked, 10-10, at the break.

It was hardly a fair reflection of the hosts’ dominance, but they did gain their rewards in the second half as an Ashbridge penalty was followed by a flurry of tries.

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Youngster George Peacock touched down for the first of them after the St Ives scrum worked a treat before Ashbridge went over himself.

Meadows’ second touch-down of the afternoon secured a bonus point before he completed his hat-trick within a minute after some unselfish work from the excellent Ashbridge.

Dunstablians did grab a late consolation from a converted try, but it did little to dampen the mood of the Bulls.

Captain Josh Dear said: “We have set our sights on securing a top-four finish after such a good start to the season.

“The first job, of beating Dunstablians, is done and now it is about continuing to pick up results.”

St Neots’ prospects of avoiding relegation were dealt a major blow by a 27-13 loss at Daventry – the team directly above the drop-zone.

Second-bottom Saints now find themselves 13 points adrift of safety with 10 games to go.

Matt Davies went over for their try at Daventry. Lewis Hall kicked the conversion and two penalties.

St Ives and St Neots return to action on January 21.