A seventh consecutive defeat to continue a torrid start to a season might ordinarily be a cause for major concern.

St Ives man Shaun Mundy is stopped by the Vipers defence last Saturday. Picture: PAUL COXSt Ives man Shaun Mundy is stopped by the Vipers defence last Saturday. Picture: PAUL COX

But, in the case of St Ives last Saturday, it was seen as a major step in the right direction as they bid to mount a Midlands Division Two East (South) survival mission.

They took plenty of positives from a 24-7 reverse at Leicester side Vipers as players stepping up produced fine performances - despite many playing out of their preferred positions.

There was a resolute debut for newcomer Shaun Mundy in the second row while David Sykes found himself in the unaccustomed position of flanker and made a complete nuisance of himself at the breakdown.

Mitch Newman was forced into action in the centre and had a fine game, especially in defence, and the returning Stuart Cornwell ended the game in a makeshift second row.

Skipper Ollie Bartlett claims a lineout for St Ives against Vipers. Picture: PAUL COXSkipper Ollie Bartlett claims a lineout for St Ives against Vipers. Picture: PAUL COX

The Bulls enjoyed a perfect start as Alex Henly charged down a kick and displayed fine dribbling skills before gathering the ball to touch down.

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Henly also added the conversion, but they proved to be his side's only points of the afternoon.

Their lead was cut by an unconverted try before Vipers completed the turnaround when making the most of a numerical advantage with a converted score after Cornwell was yellow-carded.

Warwick Brittany in action for St Ives during their defeat to Vipers. Picture: PAUL COXWarwick Brittany in action for St Ives during their defeat to Vipers. Picture: PAUL COX

That second Vipers try was followed by another game-changing moment as St Ives lost Jack Hickman, who had been dominant in the lineout, to an ankle injury.

Two further tries followed for Vipers - one of them converted - in the opening 15 minutes of the second half with St Ives hit by more injuries.

Josh Dear and Sam Smith both soldiered on in the front row despite picking up knocks and the Bulls' walking wounded ensured the Leicester hosts did not have any further joy.

St Ives skipper Ollie Bartlett said: "I'm really pleased with the way the guys who came into the team stepped up.

"We put in a much-improved defensive effort despite having so many people playing out of position. With two home games coming up, we've now got some really positive selection choices to make."

St Ives host Northampton Casuals at Somersham Road this Saturday.