St Ives have taken four points away from home at Chard to earn another win on the road. However, it seems that today this is so much more than just another win in a magnificent, history making season. With three more games to play they are sixteen points ahead. Second placed St Austell went to Falmouth in a must win game, but the Eagles managed to hold the Saints to a 12-12 draw. Meanwhile, Devonport Services again lost at home to south Devon rivals Sidmouth, pushing them further back in the battle for runner-up.
The St Ives' players were pushing for a bonus point at Chard, the extras providing them certainty of promotion. Held up over the try line and expecting a 5 metre scrum and a final opportunity to claim the bonus, the referee abruptly brought the game to a close. The Hakes' mood in the changing room was sombre, until news filtered through that other results had presented them with the league title. A night out in Bristol could be the means by which they celebrated heartily.
Only a technical issue, such as not fulfilling a fixture or playing someone who is not registered with the club, can affect the final outcome in the league. St Austell face two tough away games at Sidmouth and Kingsbridge, while St Ives have home matches against Crediton and Falmouth. Devonport host St Ives on 14th April.
But the reality is that this St Ives side should now be the first to finish the season as champions of their league. All other promotions have come from play offs, since leagues began in 1987.
Considerable congratulations are due to the head coaches, Paul Thirlby and Rob Elloway, all the players and committee that have worked tirelessly to effect such a wonderful outcome. Who would have dared expected this just two or three years ago, when we oscillated between this league and the Cornwall & Devon league?
Before everyone starts to concern themselves with the issues faced by going up a league, let's bask a little in this sunshine and enloy the completion of one of the clubs best ever accomplishments. But the season is not over by a long way. The opportunity of a double looms on the near horizon.
Full table and results >>>
Cup Semi Final
The long awaited, several times re-scheduled, semi final cup tie between St Austell and St Ives is confirmed to take place next Saturday, 31st March at St Austell, with a 2:30pm kick off. The winners will play Wadebridge Camels; if it is to be St Ives, then the final will be on 28th April, venue tbc.