Director of rugby Phil Brown admits St Ives have exceeded expectations in the opening weeks of their debut Midlands Division Two East (South) season.

A 39-15 triumph at Oakham last Saturday ensured the Bulls continue to set the pace with a quarter of the campaign now complete. They are one of three teams locked together at the top of the standings, but lead the way courtesy of an impressive points difference.

And while such a lofty position is a source of great delight for a club who won the Midlands Division Three East (South) title last term,, Brown knows a number of tough tests lie ahead - starting with the visit to second-placed Olney to Somersham Road this Saturday.

Brown said: "We certainly didn't expect to find ourselves sitting top of the table and we can be quietly satisfied at being competitive at a new level.

"We've had some very pleasing results, but it is clear there are no easy games in this division.

"We still have a lot of matches to come against sides who are new to us and we'll see how we stand in the new year before adjusting any targets."

St Ives didn't look like potential champions in the first half at Oakham as they conceded a penalty and two tries to fall 15 points adrift.

Brown admitted the Bulls were guilty of trying to play a 'dry weather game' in soggy and near-freezing conditions, but they managed to claw their way back into contention when player-coach John Naylor darted through the home defence to score before Paul Ashbridge added the conversion.

The loss of loose-head Dan Hyde to injury on the stroke of half-time was another blow for the Bulls, but they were a transformed team in the second period when reeling off 32 unanswered point.

A five-metre scrum was driven over the line for Josh Meadows to touch down for a converted try and the turnaround was soon completed as Ashbridge kicked a penalty.

The Bulls were rampant by this point as they carved open their hosts at will and it was no surprise that four further tries followed with Ashbridge claiming two of them.

Meadows followed suit to complete his own brace before skipper Ollie Bartlett capped a fine personal display with the final score.

Brown added: "We tried to play far too much rugby when against the conditions in the first half, but the guys really got their heads together in the second period and produced an excellent performance."