It was a case of early joy, but late agony for St Ives last Saturday.

Alex Henly scored a try for St Ives in their win at Northampton BBOB.Alex Henly scored a try for St Ives in their win at Northampton BBOB.

The Bulls made a rip-roaring start to their third-versus-second clash against Long Buckby, at Somersham Road, as Dave Stone darted in for a converted try inside the opening 60 seconds.

But the Bulls were eventually beaten 18-12 by their higher-placed visitors, whose success in the Midlands Division Three East (South) clash was clinched by a late penalty ahead of a breakaway try in the final minute.

St Ives did cross the line on two other occasions in the first half, but neither foray forward resulted in a try.

A knock-on halted their first charge before the referee deemed Duncan Williams had been held up when he attempted to score.

Paul Ashbridge uses his feet during St Ives' clash with Long Buckby.Paul Ashbridge uses his feet during St Ives' clash with Long Buckby.

And, after being unable to turn their dominance into a bigger advantage, St Ives were pegged back by a penalty try and conversion that also resulted in a yellow card for Mickey Drake.

A penalty then edged the visitors ahead before stand-in skipper Ollie Bartlett restored the Bulls’ advantage after being the beneficiary of fine work from the pack.

Ashbridge couldn’t steer over the conversion, or a long-range penalty attempt shortly after, as St Ives went into the break with a slender 12-10 cushion.

But they drew a blank during the second period which meant a late Long Buckby penalty, followed by an even later try, earned victory for the visitors.

St Ives remain third in the standings, but now trail their Saturday conquerors by eight points.

St Neots’ survival prospects weren’t helped as they went down to a 34-22 home defeat at the hands of Leicester Forest. Saints are now 15 points from safety in the Midlands Division Three East (South) standings.

Captain Matt Cartwright (2), Ross Hubbard and Cameron Howson touched down for tries while Rhod Howcroft steered over a conversion.

Both local sides are out of action tomorrow. They return to the fray on Saturday, February 11 when St Ives go to Northampton BBOB while it is St Neots’ turn to face Long Buckby.