Devonport Services 29:23 St Ives
A number of enforced changes meant first away match looked to be a tough call, but the Hakes picked up a league point in a much improved performance. Indeed, this was a much they could have won. Right up to the last minute the game was in the balance.
Surprisingly warm, calm conditions on a wide pitch greeted St Ives for their first away game of the season. They started brightly, with plenty of attacking intent. This led to a scrum near the opponent’s’ 22m line. After a couple of inconclusive scrums, with St Ives asserting pressure, the committed back row was unable to make the tackles. From an inside pass Devonport broke away and scrum half, Brandon Andrews, scored the first try, converted by fly half, Matt Anstis; 7:0 after six minutes.
St Ives fought back well after this early disappointment. The game became an exchange of penalties between both fly halves; Jordan Gott pegged it back to 7:3 (15mins), Matt Anstis replied 10:3 (15mins), Gott closed the gap to 10:6 (21mins), 10:9 (25mins), Anstis again 13:9 (30mins). This was the half time score.
St Ives had created no less than six try scoring opportunities with huge pressure within the Devon side’s 22m area, but none were converted into tries. Wrong options at crucial moments will be looked back on in frustration. Jess Tompsett stood on the blind side for the try scoring pass, but the ball went to the right. Jordan Gott’s deft kick into in goal went ‘dead’. He had surely not taken account of the very short in goal area. Pods mauling toward the line would have succeeded more than individual, albeit committed runs. Devonport held out with solid tackling near their own line. St Ives were not only competing well, they should have been in front.
The second half began with St Ives showing self-belief. On 49 minutes Jamie Prisk went over for a try, which Jordan Gott converted. The Hakes went in front at 13:16. This lead could have been increased, but Jordan Gott unfortunately missed on 52 minutes with his next attempt at goal. Matt Anstis made no mistakes. He took his chances with continued success. The veteran was having a man of the match performance with his goal kicking and kicking out of hand. One raking diagonal punt was well collected by his opposite number on the 22m line. Instead of relieving the situation with a line kick, an unexpected pass to Harry Parton in centre field saw him caught in possession. The resultant penalty enabled Anstis to bring the sides level at 16:16. A further penalty goal put Devonport back in the lead, 19:16.
The game had become somewhat scrappy, probably in part due to the heat draining the fitness from both sides. With the game in the balance nerves and pressure began to tell. The crucial score came on 71 minutes. After some solid mauling and multi-phase possession the home side delivered an exhausted looking defence. Andrews got the try and Anstis converted: 26:16 to Devonport.
To their great credit St Ives bounced back with several strong attacks. Injuries had forced them to make rolling sub changes in the front row. With 76 minutes on the clock replacement Jon ‘Oggy’ Wright finished a forward drive to crash over. Jordan Gott made the conversion and the gap was closed to three points at 26:23. Up stepped Anstis on the 80 minute to seemingly close the game out with another penalty goal to make the score 29:23. However, the referee allowed another eight minutes of play. During this time captain Tom Nicholas made a great run down the left wing and in the last move of the game Lewis Thomas might have got his pass away for Josh Palmer. Devonport managed to hold on with desperate tackles on both occasions. The final score remained at 29:23.
This was a vast improvement. The front five caused a lot of problems for the Devon side for much of the game. The back row equitted themselves well. The backs were far more cohesive. There are several injury concerns, with players struggling to be match fit. Next Saturday Exeter University visit St Ives, which is another stern test. All support will be welcome for the 3 o’clock kick off.
St Ives squad:
Joe Rouncefield (not used)
Peter Skeggs (not used)