NOT for the first time this season, St Ives edged out their Huntingdonshire rivals St Neots to add to their chances of promotion in what is turning out to be a humdinger of a season.
St Ives held on tight to their lead to win the game at The Chicken Shack 31-26 with the captain Jim Robinson kicking some important penalties at the end to keep the Saints at bay.
The Bulls, who have won 17 of their 18 Midlands Four East South games this season, are second to Brackley – who have a 100 per cent league record – and 13 points ahead of third-place Bedford Swifts.
Two go up at the end of the season and with four games to go, a positive result against Bedford this Saturday will be paramount.
“It was a great game of rugby which was fiercely contested in the right manner,” said Robinson, who scored the first try of the afternoon in front of a large crowd. But it was tit-for-tat for the first 40 minutes with Robinson kicking all three conversions and Jamalh Alert and Mickey Drake touching down. Rhod Howcroft and Luke Warburton scored for the visitors who were also awarded a penalty try.
In the second half, after giving away a few needless penalties, St Ives gained their composure and kept hold of the ball with Jamalh scoring a fourth try from 30-yards out before picking up a knee injury late on.
With the game poised at 28-26, Robinson kicked a penalty to extend the lead further. St Neots did have one more attack but a penalty in St Ives twenty-two gave them the opportunity to clear the ball and kill the game.
Still, Saints chairman Nigel Samm wasn’t too disappointed, especially as the team had included three 18 year olds and one who is only 17. Joe Woodgate, Callum McShane, Aiden Jordan and Jordan Rook all featured and did what was asked of them.
“With 10 minutes to go we were only four points behind them,” said the chairman. “We were close to scalping St Ives and believe me they would have been a big scalp.
“The youngsters did well – we are being careful with how we blood them, but they have earned their places in this team and deserved their chance.”
Safely in fifth position, St Neots have improved on and off the field since last season and will be hoping youth is the key next time around when a tilt at promotion will be their aim.