Another Losing Bonus Point
St Ives 14 v 19 Devonport Services
In their last league fixture of 2016 St Ives welcomed Western Counties West league leaders Devonport Services to Alexandra Road. Experienced prop Ben Wheeler was named in the front row in place of the unavailable Ben Jenkins. Jacob Ninnes started on the right wing, with coach Paul Thirlby naming himself at fly half, meaning a move to fullback for Jordan Gott. Lewis Thomas was brought to the bench in place of Liam Jolly late on and Neil Corin was acting as forwards coach on the day. Both had originally been named as likely replacements.
The game began well for the Hakes when Jordan Gott converted a penalty awarded when the visitors scrum was penalised, which he slotted to give St Ives a 3 points to nil lead after only 6 minutes play.
Despite going behind the visitors responded well and they pinned St Ives back in their own 22 following a series of penalties. Each penalty was dispatched into the corner, giving Devonport the opportunity to crank up the pressure on the St Ives defence. In the 12th minute the pressure was too much for the Hakes and Matt Gillard crossed for the try. Matt Anstis converted to give the visitors the lead by 7 points to 3.
On the quarter hour mark Gott kicked another penalty for St Ives to put them within a point of the visitors, but it was Devonport who continued to keep up the pressure on the home defence. In the 31st minute Devonport were again threatening the St Ives line and when their forwards couldn't break through the resolute St Ives defence, they flicked the ball wide allowing Joe Wyatt to go over in the corner. The conversion was missed this time but, the visitors now held a 12 points to 3 lead over St Ives.
The St Ives players responded well to going behind and the remainder of the first half saw the Hakes on the attack. All too often, however, the St Ives players squandered good attacking opportunities by not retaining the ball in critical areas, which prematurely ended several promising attacks. It wasn't until the 38th minute that St Ives grabbed their first and only try of the match. From the base of a ruck scrum half Sam Carter darted for the line and stretched out an arm to score the try. The conversion was missed to put the Hakes back to within a point of the visitors at 11 points to 12. With no further score in the first period the referee ended the half with no change to the score a couple of minutes later.
The second half was a tough tense affair as both sides looked for an opening that would turn the game in their favour. St Ives missed an opportunity to take the lead from a penalty chance in the 53rd minute, but made amends only 2 minutes later, when Gott slotted a penalty, after the visitors were found offside, to take the lead by 14 points to 12.
As the clock ticked by it began to look as though the St Ives players would hold on for a narrow victory over the league leaders, but the game was about to take its final twist. The Devonport players began to put pressure on the St Ives in their own 22. A series of penalties again saw the visitors kick for the corner and form mauls from catch and drives. The St Ives defence was penalised on several further occasions eventually resulting in the referee showing a yellow card to Jamie Prisk. With the Hakes now a man down they defended repeated scrums on their own 5 metre line, but eventually the referee lost patience and awarded a penalty try to Devonport for illegal prevention of a try scoring opportunity. Matt Anstis slotted the conversion to give the visitors a 19 points to 14 lead with only 8 minutes remaining on the clock.
Despite several valiant attempts by the St Ives players to turn the game around the referee brought the game to an end with no further change to the score. Astonishingly, St Ives have gained a losing bonus point in seven of their eight defeats. No wonder one of the most repeated comments from players is, "We could have won that...". Those points have kept St Ives in sixth place, above the other four teams who have won six and lost eight of their matches. St Ives have the third best points difference in the league, with +121, and only Exeter University, have a better try bonus record, with eight; ours is six.
St Ives next league game is not until the 7th January when they travel away to Exeter University. The next rugby at Alexandra Road will be the traditional Boxing Day fixture against local rivals Hayle. Kick off on the 26th December is scheduled for 1:00pm; any festive support for this match would be much appreciated by both clubs.
St Ives: Ben Wheeler, Ben Taylor (Captain), Tom Chandler, Jamie Hoskin, Jake Clemson, Martyn Lawrance, Sean Stevens, Archie Mackay, Sam Carter, Paul Thirlby, Peter Mabbott, Steve Kenward, Tom Nicholas, Jacob Ninnes, Jordan Gott.
Replacements: Joel Stevens, Jamie Prisk, Lewis Thomas (All used)