Exeter Saracens 0:50 St Ives Hakes
St Ives was forced to make several changes from the side that defeated Withycombe last week. Ever present Ben Jenkins was unavailable, which brought Ben Wheeler into the front row. Luke Collins was unable to play so Louis Stevens began at second row. In the backs, John Trewhella took over at scrum half for the veteran’s seventh appearance. Bobby Conroy-Smith moved into the centre for Tom Nicholas who was on work duties. The vacant wing position allowed for another colt to make his debut. Peter Skeggs had a fine game, fielding the high ball, making good metres, tackling and getting fully involved.
The weather was fair and the ground, typical Devon clay, well drained and much firmer than any recent pitches. The Hakes’ pack was clearly much bigger than the Sarries boys. This size difference lead to many missed tackles and ‘miss matches’ for the away side to exploit. However, several opportunities came to nought as the ball was spilled in the tackle to give Exeter some relief.
From the start the game was played largely in the Exeter half and, often, their ‘22’. A 5 metre lineout, from a penalty, allowed Louis Stevens to take and drive over on the left hand side for the first try. Grant Thirlby, again in good kicking form, slotted the conversion; 7:0 to St Ives after 12 minutes.
The backs were getting a good share of possession. Already the back three were able to counter attack in spite of an awkwardly bouncing ball. Sarries were feeling the pressure and giving away too many penalties. This was a feature of the game, which the referee seemed to be prepared to tolerate. A very suspect ‘tackle’, which appeared to be more of a shoulder charge without the use of arms, and not an isolated instance, rendered Martyn Lawrance injured after another run from the base of the scrum. He took no further part. He is desperate for a speedy recovery to keep his one hundred percent appearance statistic through the season. Shortly after, a quickly taken penalty was swiftly moved to the right for Peter Mabbott to go in at the corner. The wide conversion was missed; 12:0.
The rest of the half was conducted in like fashion, with the home side unable to create any attacking opportunities. They tackled enthusiastically, but gaps appeared in their defence. Trewhella found himself making a couple of telling gainline breaks. Tompsett did the same from close to the rucks, while Jamie Prisk did his usual damage from runs in mid field. However, it was brother, Todd who scored the other two first half tries. The first came after several phases of quick ball. The second allowed for some old fashioned fly hacking by the scorer. Both were ably converted by Thirlby, who sailed passed two hundred points for his personal season's tally. Half time score: 26:0.
The second half was also scoreless in the first quarter. The Sarries defence had regrouped and worked hard to keep the Hakes out. Louis Stevens was denied after reaching for the line. He was deemed to have made a double move. Pressure told eventually as Ben Taylor took an ‘arm chair’ ride from a well formed maul to flop down clearly in sight of the referee. No conversion this time, the score was 31:0 with fifty minutes gone.
Minutes later, Bobby Conroy- Smith showed his pace to sprint around the outside from half way. He was enjoying the harder surface. Thirlby converted to make it 38:0. Paul Thirlby, who had distributed the ball tellingly from fly half, was available to finish off a move in which young Peter Skeggs almost scored following a fine run. The conversion went wide to leave the score at 43:0.
Ben Wheeler, beginning to show renewed vigour following his long absence, was replaced after twisting a knee. David Bramwell and Jake Clemson both had busy afternoons from the bench. Cameron Bone ably demonstrated his diverse skills. The Saracens had their best spell of the game, desperate to avoid another whitewash at the hands of The Hakes. The non-playing visiting vets team from Bristol gave them plenty of support, but St Ives defended well. After a fine touch find, Louis Stevens, outstanding throughout, took the lineout ball ‘off the top’ to start a clinical move which saw Lewis Thomas arrive on a well-chosen angle to blitz through the defence and go under the posts from half way. The full back has averaged a try every two matches throughout the season. Thirlby converted to make the final score 50:0.
All to play for
Other results in the league make interesting reading, with St Ives needing just one point from their last match at home against in form Plymstock. Withycombe mauled Bodmin 107:8. They are chasing a better points difference than St Ives should their league points be equal. Bude were pushed all the way to gain a slender win at Plymstock 15:17. Saturday’s fixture against Plymstock Albion Rovers will be a tough test for St Ives with promotion hanging in the balance, but, crucially, in their own hands. All support is welcomed for the three o’clock kick off. The day also includes the annual ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ buffet and post-match awards.
St Ives : Jess Tompsett, Ben Taylor (Captain), Ben Wheeler, Jamie Prisk, Louis Stevens, Todd Prisk, Cameron Bone, Martyn Lawrance, John Trewhella, Paul Thirlby, Peter Mabbott, Grant Thirlby, Bobby Conroy-Smith, Peter Skeggs, Lewis Thomas.
Replacements: David Bramwell, Peter Skeggs(Both Used).