St Ives’ surge to Midlands Division Two East (South) safety gathered pace with a fine success last Saturday.

John Paxton produced a fine individual try to help St Ives beat Northampton Old Scouts. Picture: PAUL COXJohn Paxton produced a fine individual try to help St Ives beat Northampton Old Scouts. Picture: PAUL COX

The Bulls battled their way to a 23-17 verdict against Northampton Old Scouts at Somersham Road to ease five points clear of the drop-zone.

A Paul Ashbridge penalty was the only reward for a blistering St Ives start and they soon found themselves trailing to an unconverted Old Scouts try following a break from midfield.

But the response was both immediate and impressive as hard tackling from skipper Ollie Bartlett and John Paxton forced the ball loose for Ashbridge to pounce and convert his own touch-down.

And the Bulls then made the most of a numerical advantage to claim another score with the visitors down to 14 men as slick handling from Alex Henly and Ben Fleming allowed Warwick Brittany to scamper over in the corner.

Ashbridge couldn't find the target with a tough conversion attempt but his boot did steer over another penalty to open up an 18-5 advantage at the break.

The Bulls also dominated possession early in the second period only to see Old Scouts pounce on a break down and claim a converted try to claw their way back into contention.

But the pressure was relieved when Paxton produced a fine individual try to ensure the Bulls triumphed before the visitors gained a late consolation try.

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St Ives' director of rugby, Phil Brown, said: 'Performing so well against a team in the top half of the table is certainly a good sign.

'The new guys this season are now well versed in how we are aiming to play while the return of a couple of long-term absentees has certainly helped too.

'But we need to recognise that all of the sides around us have tough run-ins so a result here or there will make all the difference.

'I feel we need at least one more good win - if the season continues, that is!

'There are lots of noises and rumours doing the rounds, but we'll keep preparing well and stay focused on continuing our recent improvements.

'Fingers crossed that Coronavirus doesn't get in the way of an exciting end to the season.'

St Ives have an excellent opportunity to move further away from relegation trouble this Saturday when heading to rock-bottom Corby side Stewarts & Lloyds.

Huntingdon & District were successful without taking to the field last weekend. They were awarded a home clash against Northampton BBOB in Midlands Division Three East (South) when the away side were unable to raise a team.

Stags are scheduled to host Oakham at The Racecourse this Saturday while rock-bottom St Neots' search for a first win of the season continues at Lincolnshire side Bourne.