St Ives 33 v 40 Launceston
Last Saturday St Ives welcomed fellow Cornish side Launceston to Alexandra Road in their latest South West One league match. This is the first time in twenty years the sides have met, when both sides were in the South West 1 West league.
Head Coach Rob Elloway named a strong side including himself at hooker and fellow player coach Chris Fuca started in the back row. Dan Magee, former Hayle and Pirates Amateurs, made his debut from the bench. A late change was forced when Chris Quick dropped out through illness. Kye Beasley took Ben Watson's place on the bench, while Jamie Hoskin moved to the back row.
The game kicked off in bright sunshine and it wasn’t long before the large crowd saw the first points of the afternoon when in the 5th minute Launceston’s Reuben Edwards burst through the St Ives defence to score. Glen Coles added the conversion to put the visitors ahead by 7 points to nil. This was actually against the run of play. The Hakes had dominated possession until that point, but Launceston clearly had pace out wide.
As the first half wore on a game pattern began to develop. St Ives was strong up front and began to look dangerous from the set piece, particularly in the scrum. Launceston, however, have a talented three quarter and looked very dangerous on the counter attack.
In the 17th minute the power of the St Ives forwards came to the fore when they pressed home an attack with a series of pick and drive moves which resulted in second row Ben Watson crashing over for the try. Rhys Brownfield added the conversion to level the sores at 7 points each.
St Ives now built momentum up front that the visitors were struggling to contain. In the 28th minute a powerful St Ives scrum drove for the line allowing Chris Fuca to touch down for the try. Brownfield converted again to give the Hakes a deserved lead at 14 points to 7.
The St Ives domination up front continued and it was again from an attacking scrum that they broke through the Launceston defence. This time it was powerful number 8 Martyn Lawrance who crossed for the try in the 33rd minute. Another successful Brownfield conversion increased the Hakes advantage to 21 points to 7.
The visitors managed to claw back 3 points with a penalty from the boot of Coles in the 35th minute when the St Ives defence was caught offside (21-10).
As the half approached its conclusion the pattern continued with the St Ives pushing home their advantage up front and Launceston threatening on the counter attack. In the 37th minute Jamie Prisk finished off another St Ives attack with a try. Brownfield, kicking well, converted (28-10). However, it was the visitors that ended the half in the ascendancy with a try from a counter attack by their skipper Lloyd Duke in the last play of the half. Coles again slotted the conversion to make the half time score St Ives 28, Launceston 17. St Ives had the opportunity to facilitate a better exit from their ‘22’, but took another option and lost possession.
The second half began with the visitors on the attack. The Hakes were guilty of some poor game management and almost looked surprised as Launceston came out ‘all guns blazing’. Two tries were conceded out wide on the right in the 2nd and 4th minutes respectively through Martin Kneebone and Will Morton (both unconverted). St Ives also lost number 8 Lawrance to the sin bin for a high tackle, which seemed a little harsh. The game had been played in a disciplined and controlled spirit. The St Ives lead was down to just a single point at 28-27.
With the Hakes on the back foot they looked to steady the ship, but Launceston pushed hard to make the extra man advantage count. To their credit St Ives defended well in this period and kept the visitors at bay before they broke out of defence themselves to score a try out wide on the left through centre Jack Kessell in the 47th minute. No conversion this time, but the Hakes had extended their lead to 33 points to 27.
The last quarter of the match saw St Ives beginning to hang on to their slender advantage and Launceston looking the more likely to score. Penalties were being conceded as the pressure mounted. In the 70th and 75th minute the visitors successfully kicked two penalty chances through the boot of Coles to level the scores at 33 points each to set up a thrilling finale.
Launceston duly applied the pressure and it was Ryan Westren who made the breakthrough in the 78th minute with a try to break St Ives’ hearts. Again Coles, who rounded off a fine kicking performance, added the extras to put Launceston in a match winning position at 33-40.
From the restart the Launceston no.6 inexplicably deliberately threw the ball into touch. The Hakes had a chance to level the scores when this late penalty saw them kick for the corner for an attacking line out in the final seconds of the match. It wasn’t to be, however, and the referee, James Grant of DRRS, brought the game to a close.
This pulsating game of rugby was a true advert for the sport and credit must go to both sides for providing an entertaining match which could have gone either way. It also showed on this evidence that St Ives should be able to cope at this level, especially when it is easy to identify mistakes that led to points against.
The Hakes are back in action this coming Saturday for another stern test with a long trip to Gloucestershire side Lydney. Kick-off is scheduled for 3:00pm; any travelling support would be very welcome.
St Ives : Ben Taylor, Rob Elloway, Ben Jenkins, Jamie Prisk, Ben Watson, Jamie Hoskin, Chris Fuca, Martyn Lawrance, Liam Jolly, Rhys Brownfield, Peter Mabbott, Tom Nicholas (Captain), Jack Kessell, Joe Parma.
Replacements: Kye Beasley, Dan Magee, Leigh Hocking (All Used).