St Ives finished their debut season in Midlands Division Two East (South) with a crushing 45-17 win at Coalville.

St Ives man Tommy Newman flattens an opponent at Coalville. Picture: PAUL COXSt Ives man Tommy Newman flattens an opponent at Coalville. Picture: PAUL COX

Despite a close-fought first half between the two sides, St Ives showed their staying power to ease past their hosts with an impressive second-half effort to cap a fine season.

Ives began the stronger of the two sides, with good ground made by Paul Ashbridge, Alex Henly and Ben Fleming. An excellent scrum, in which the front row of Bradley Robinson, Tommy Newman and Josh Dear anchored possession all game, gave Ives the platform to stretch the Coalville defence. Ashbridge chose his line well and powered through to open the scoring.

Coalville reacted with a break through of their own, however, with quickly-recycled ball from a ruck enabling them to find space to score under the posts.

With conditions underfoot firm, both sets of backs were enjoying running rugby. A quickly taken penalty by John Naylor released John Paxton who broke through the defensive line. Fleming took possession and chipped the full back neatly but was then tackled off the ball, leaving the referee little choice but to award a penalty try and brandished a yellow card.

Player-coach John Naylor touches down for a try in St Ives' victory at Coalville in their final Midlands Division Two East (South) fixture of the season. Picture: PAUL COXPlayer-coach John Naylor touches down for a try in St Ives' victory at Coalville in their final Midlands Division Two East (South) fixture of the season. Picture: PAUL COX

But Ives were unable to take advantage of the extra man as Coalville upped their intensity. Direct running and fast recycling gained them territory. Having been under the cosh for some minutes, the Ives defence finally cracked. St Ives went in at the break ahead, 14-12.

As has often been the case this season, the second half saw Ives step up a level and the scores quickly followed.

Albiee Tayedzerwa, Will Nelson, Naylor, and Henly all added scored in the second half as the Bulls moved into a commanding lead, with Coalville only managing a single score as they spent much of the half under pressure.

Skipper Ollie Bartlett said: “It was a fantastic performance to finish the league season. “We can be really happy with finishing third in our first season at this level and still have two cup finals to look forward to.”

Huntingdon Stags, meanwhile, finished bottom of the same division to suffer a second successive relegation. Stags lost their last game of the season 33-17 to champions Olney at The Racecourse on Saturday.

It was a final game at the helm for head coach Damien Whales as he steps aside to be replaced by former Stags star Reggie Reid next season.