BULLS skipper Ross Thompson believes a top-three finish is still within his side’s grasp after they ended their St Neots hoodoo by the slenderest of margins on Saturday.

Midlands 4 East (South)

St Neots 17-18 St Ives

ST IVES Bulls skipper Ross Thompson believes a top-three finish is still within his side's grasp after they ended their St Neots hoodoo by the slenderest of margins on Saturday.

After tasting defeat in each of the last three years, fifth-placed St Ives managed to reverse that trend at the Common – and also open up a four-point advantage over Neots, who are immediately below them.

Speaking after the win, elated Ives captain Thompson said: “At last we shaded it. We went 10 points down in the first half and, although I don't think we deserved to be behind, our attitude to respond was unbelievable.

“Beating them is the difference between a four-point swing over them or slipping back. The games leading into the Christmas period are always critical and generally tough fixtures.

“Realistically, top spot is probably out of our reach now, but I think we can still look at the top three if results go our way in the next few games.”

Neots had started the game well and led inside 12 minutes, when Lewis Hall converted a penalty goal, and they then stretched their lead when centre Adam Peel picked up a loose ball and charged over the whitewash for a converted score.

But Bulls were not going to be bullied and soon started to take the game to the hosts, with some intelligent and expansive rugby.

The first Bulls score came when Jamie Noble and James Wood combined in a charge down the middle for the first try, and Michael Drake chipped forward for Tom Wakerley to add another soon afterwards. Both tries were unconverted.

Jack Blackley then kicked a penalty to hand the visitors a 13-10 half-time lead.

The second half was a scrappy affair with a lot of broken play and, although the hosts applied some severe pressure, it was the Bulls who always more looked likely to break through and so it proved when Wood scored his second try of the afternoon, which was again unconverted.

A late barrage of Neots pressure – and another Peel try converted by Hall – set up a grandstand finale but Ives, who put their bodies on the line, were not to be denied and managed to hold their nerve and secure a single-point victory.

Thompson also paid tribute to the squad players, who fronted up in the absence of so many key personnel.

He said: “The fresh faces played like they had been there all the time. It was a typical derby game, played in good spirits, and Neots deserve a lot of credit for playing their part.”

n Bulls are next in action on Saturday, December 4 when they host second-placed Stamford.