Pre-season friendly St Ives Bulls 26 Kempston 36 A POOR performance in the ruck left St Ives captain Pete Hammond with a headache ahead of the new rugby union season. Having gone down heavily against Royston last week, Bulls put up a stronger performance at Somersham Road, boosted by a squad of 30 to choose from. However, despite a promising start from the home side, Kempston came back strongly and condemned St Ives to their second successive defeat. Hammond said: "I was pleased with some aspects of the performance but disheartened by others. "At times we looked confident and comfortable in possession of the ball and we were able to use it well. At other times we seemed to simply go to sleep, losing the ball in the tackle and forgetting how to ruck. "There were times when we should have guaranteed possession that we came up empty-handed and our defence went missing in some instances. "They brought some big lads on and we seemed scared to bring them down." St Ives finished sixth in last year's Midlands League Division 5 East (South), winning seven and losing 11. Newcomers to the league for the 2007\/08 season, which begins on September 15, include promoted Aylestone Athletic and Deepings, while Rushden and Biggleswade drop a division. Market Harborough, Oundle, Stoneygate and Stamford, who Saints host on the opening day, complete the 10-team league. The Kempston game was played over four quarters of 20 minutes, a format used to enable teams to swap players around at frequent intervals. Bulls started brightly, both at set pieces and in open play, and some intelligent play from Paul Ashbridge opened up the visitors, allowing the home side to score an early brace of tries. Cracks soon appeared in the St Ives performance and sloppy play allowed Kempston to dominate proceedings and secure a comfortable victory. Try-scorers for St Ives were Steve Burke, Paul Ashbridge and Ollie Scott - and Hammond did take some positives from the performance. "We can take heart from our first half performance and we now know what we need to work on in training. "We have also discovered new talent in some of our younger players who stepped up and performed admirably. "Hopefully we will be able to iron out all the problems before the first game of the season." St Ives begin their league season with a match against Stamford at Somersham Road on September 15 and have another home friendly against Thorney on Saturday.