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Hakes Falter at First Hurdle

St Ives 10 : 23 Cullompton

St Ives began the new season at home against Cullompton in the Western Counties West league. The Devon side are well established, many of their ranks having played for a number of years in the league above. The young St Ives contingent knew it would be a stern test of their ability, with five new signings and four home debutants. Only six of the team were regulars from last year.

Driving rain down the pitch away from the clubhouse greeted the home side as they played into the wind in the first half. The exchanges in the first few minutes were all between the ten metre lines. Considering the poor conditions, the ball handling was good with positive intent. Early scrums promised much for St Ives as they dominated the push. No.8, Martyn Lawrance broke from the base, but the move was stifled through lack of support and solid tackling from Cullompton. This shaped many attempts by St Ives to break the opponent’s line.

Pressure mounted as Cullompton retained possession to occupy the home side’s 22m area. Although St Ives initially won the ball from the scrum, it was turned over and Cullompton raced through the suddenly exposed defence, shortly after for flanker Sean Mardell to score the opening try. The conversion from centre, Ross Toms, gave the away side the early lead, 7-0 in the 8th minute. Further pressure from Cullompton saw a penalty attempt on sixteen minutes go just wide. Another Cullompton scrum was awarded inside the St Ives’ 22 in the 20th minute. St Ives pushed the Cullompton pack backwards, but the ball was secured, allowing no.8, Sam Harris, to race down an undefended blind side. An inevitable try came from the second phase in the old scoreboard corner. The conversion was missed; 12-0.

Individual basic errors were creating difficulties for St Ives, whose defence stood up pretty well. Cullompton chased their kicks ahead effectively, to restrict any counter attacking from the home side. This largely nullified the tactic of having Lawrance receiving the ball in the deep to initiate them. However, the home side managed to show patience, maintaining pressure until the Cullompton forwards were penalised at the ruck on half way. An excellent touch find gave a line out in the changing room corner. Several phases later, Jordan Gott, picked a diagonal run to the opposite side for a try, unconverted; 12-5 after 30 minutes.

Cullompton, clearly wanting another score before facing the wind, which was subsiding somewhat, mounted further attacks. One was snuffed out by Cameron Bone, who ripped the tackled player’s shirt over his head. The ball became unplayable as it disappeared somewhere inside the shirt. Taylor took the loose ball after the ensuing scrum and St Ives cleared. Cullompton soon returned to the 22 and secured a fourth penalty towards the end of the half. The successful kick by Toms made it 15-5.

The wind was less of an advantage in the second and, for a while, the rain eased, all to the good for Cullompton, who were getting too many turn overs. Grant Thirlby replaced Liam Jolly at scrum half, Jon Wright joined the front row and Archie Mackay left with knee trouble to make way for home debutant, Jake Clemson.

A rare handling error was pounced upon by winger Josh Palmer inside the visitor’s 22 in the 50th minute. Scooping up the ball he raced over near the posts. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed, but St Ives were in reach with the scored narrowed to 15-10. Just when the afternoon was looking brighter, three penalties in succession against the Hakes brought a drive from a line out and Cullompton crashed over to make it 20-10. The St Ives penalty count was growing and Toms converted another opportunity from close range on 63 minutes to make it 23-10.

In the last ten minutes the home side tried hard to break the sound defence of Cullompton. Time and again the ball was stolen at the base of their ruck. On another day the interpretation of the off side law may have brought a different outcome, but Cullompton were street wise and in control, effecting nine turnovers all told. St Ives were unable to make the most of two late penalties and never managed to mount any serious pressure in the Cullompton danger zone. The score remained at 23-10.

Next week St Ives play another of the seven Devon sides in this league as they travel to Devonport Services. Any and all support will be welcome.

The full squad:

1. James Bishop

2. Ben Taylor (c)

3. Ben Jenkins

4. Harry Parton

5. Jamie Hoskin

6. Archie McKay

7. Cameron Bone

8. Martyn Lawrance

9. Liam Jolly

10. Jordan Gott

11. Luke Allatt

12. Steve Kenward

13. Tom Nicholas

14. Josh Palmer

15. Lewis Thomas

16. Grant Thirlby

17. Jake Clemson

18. Jon Wright

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