WITH St Neots Rugby Club top of the Midlands Four East South table after winning all four of their league games so far this season, chairman Nigel Samm is excited about improvements both on and off the pitch.
The Bulls beat Wellingborough Old Grammarians 78-10 on Saturday to stay ahead of the chasing pack in a division that is fast becoming divided into two parts underneath fourth-placed St Ives, who have also have one point fewer than the Bulls.
“It’s going cracking,” said the chairman. “To be honest, I expected us to start well because of the changes we made during the close season.
“We have an improved coaching structure and we are getting the numbers in training to do well.
“The whole club is more professional – it is thriving.”
Mick Cleary returned to coaching duties during the summer following a season in which the team did well in parts but lacked numbers. The shortage of players was destructive and on two occasions the club had to pull out of league games when a side couldn’t be raised.
But with four wins from four games already this time around – it’s a whole new ball game.
Lewis Hall scored a hat-trick in their magnificent 78-10 win with Dan Miller getting two tries, Harry Gillam bagging a brace and 17-year-old debutant Aiden Jordan scoring his first senior try.
It was as comprehensive a win as they come – and it followed similar defeats of Bourne, Thorney and Stamford College Old Boys.
“Admittedly we haven’t played anybody in the top three yet,” said Cleary, “but no one has started as well as well have.
“I put it all down to strength in depth. If we are missing three or four players through holiday or inury – then we have the players to step up this season. It’s all good.”
Even the clubhouse has had a facelift. Club president Kevin Hull told The Hunts Post: “We have invested a tremendous amount of time and money turning our club into something to be proud of. It’s now not only for the enjoyment of our members but for all of the residents in the St Neots area.”
Samms continued: “Myself and members have worked very hard to make the clubhouse a nice place to hold a celebration.
“The floor was laid by Jason Seymour of Seymour Carpets, who as a supporter of the club gave us a very good deal.”
This Saturday St Neots are at Harbury in Warwickshire in the second round of the Midlands Junior Vase. It’s a fair old trip for the side that usually travels to games in a fleet of cars. This journey will be by coach.
“Harbury beat Wellingborough in the last round,” said Cleary, “but not by as many points as we did last week.”
St Ives too have technically won four out of four games but their home walkover win over no-shows Aylestone Athletic on Saturday won’t have done them any favours in the points difference stakes. They are away at Keyworth in Nottinghamshire on Saturday in the Vase.
Midalnds Four East South: Bedford Swifts HWO Stamford College Old Boys, Bourne 48-10 Westwood, Brackley 66-3 Thorney, Oundle 62-0 Corby, St Ives (Midlands) HWO Aylestone Athletic, St Neots 71-10 Wellingborough OG.
HUNTINGDON & District are four points clear at the top of the Midlands Two East South table after winning their fourth game on the trot at The Racecourse on Saturday.
The Stags beat second-placed Dunstablians in a thrilling game with Steven Chantler and kicker Dan Malem scoring the crucial points in the first half.
With head coach Damian Whales away on holiday, it was left to his assistant Paul Baines to talk up the team’s performance. And talk it up he did.
“This is a huge result for us against a team that will not lose many games this season,” he said.
“After the first two big wins of the season we knew we would have a hard task in the next two against Bugbrooke and Dunstablians
“The plan was to accelerate through them and we have done just that.”
Dunstablians were the only other unbeaten side in the division and this win cemented Stags’ place at the top of the table with promotion to the Midlands Three East South division now a real possibility.
Seth Muggeridge, who had scored two tries in each of the previous three matches, was missing for the game, as was Chris Pape, but James Thorpe, Rory Parker and Tango Morgan were all back for the clash.
It took 30 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, Malem kicking a penalty for the opening points, before Chantler touched down for the a try which Malem then converted. Though Stags didn’t add to that in the second half, the team defended brilliantly with Wayne Bradley and Ali Dunsdon a brick wall in the middle of the park. A rare error allowed the visitors to get one try back, but it was unconverted and that was the only sniff Dunstablians got.
“It was great to have Rory Parker back,” said Baines. “He is still a bit short on match fitness but was very destructive in his two stints off the bench.
“Our blinside flanker Mike Webb was man of the match – he won all our lineouts and poached several of theirs at key moments.”
Game number five of the club’s league season is at Leicester Vipers on Saturday, October 20 – but this Saturday they host Midlands Two East North side Melton Mowbray in the second round of the Midlands Intermediate Cup.
Midalnds Two East South: Biggleswade 0-60 Bugbrooke, Huntingdon & District 10-5 Dunstablians, Lutterworth 31-9 Wellingborough, Market Harborough 24-19 Northampton BBOB, Northampton Old Scouts 37-17 Vipers, Oadby Wyggestonians 16-33 Leighton Buzzard.