St Ives dished out a Midlands Division Two East (South) derby drubbing to local rivals Huntingdon for the second time this season.
The Somersham Road showdown went exactly as the formbook suggested with the high-flying Bulls – who are chasing back-to-back promotions) slamming a rock-bottom Stags side desperately attempting to avoid a second successive relegation.
The 64-17 scoreline in favour of Phil Brown’s men followed a 55-7 success in the reverse fixture back in September and further highlighted the power-shift in local rugby.
“We produced a great performance to start the second half of the season,” said delighted Bulls captain Ollie Bartlett. “We backed up the excellent training effort the lads put in during the week.
“Of course we had a few beers to celebrate, but this game is forgotten now and we need to make sure we prepare just as well for every fixture to come.”
Incredibly, given the total of 81 points piled up during the game, 25 minutes of rugby had been played before either try-line was threatened.
A Paul Ashbridge penalty for the hosts was the difference between the sides or much of the opening half.
A cagey start to a derby clash was certainly not a shock, but the Bulls’ failure to make the most of a numerical advantage after Stags skipper Roger Shakespeare was carded for a tackling offence was more of a surprise.
They eventually found their way over the line through Josh Meadows before Bartlett was the beneficiary of a slick move to bag a second try.
The Bulls’ pack then flexed their muscle from a five-metre scrum to allow Ollie Raine to dot down and, with Ashbridge’s boot in fine working order, they opened up a 24-0 advantage.
That was cut by a first Stags score from Shakespeare – converted by Sam Hirons - on the stroke of half-time even though the visitors were again down to 14 men.
For the second time St Ives failed to punish Stags’ numerical disadvantage, but they soon put the visitors to the sword.
Bartlett touched down again and Pete Fahey powered in under the posts before Stags hit back as Tom Johnson provided their second score while they boasted an extra man.
But normal service was resumed with Duncan Williams crashing through the Stags defence before Tommy Newman, Mickey Drake and Martin Baldwin all got in on the try-scoring act.
Four of the second-half scores were converted by Ashbridge to help the Bulls to a second half-century of the season against their local rivals.
Stags did have the last word with a last-gasp try from Tom Morgan, but it was very much St Ives’ day again.
Stags head coach Damien Whales admitted: “The size of the loss was disappointing as we played some decent rugby at times.
“But St Ives are a very good side and we never really looked like making a dent in their outstanding pack.
“We are in tough times at the moment and beating a top-four side away from home is not something we are realistically going to achieve.
“Our biggest games are those against sides around us in the table as we attempt to avoid relegation.”
St Ives can now do Stags a favour this Saturday by winning at lowly Long Buckby while Whales’ men have a home date against mid-table side S & L Corby at The Racecourse.