St Ives 9, Burnham-on-Sea 24
BURNHAM completed a league double over St Ives in difficult weather conditions at Alexandra Road as they kept up the pressure on Westren Counties West leaders Ivybridge, writes Dick Straughan.
The Hakes knew that maintaining their recent upturn in form against the Somerset side would be a tough call but will take heart from the fact that they led for much of the first half hour.
Two early Craig Williams penalties gave the Cornish side a 6-0 lead before Burnham opened their account with a converted try from wing Adam House.
But Williams struck again with his third successful place kick to put St Ives back in front before the game turned just before half-time.
Matt Lowe ran in a second try before the home pack conceded a penalty try for illegally collapsing a driving maul close to their line.
Both teams had a player sin-binned early in the second half with Ben Jenkins seeing yellow for the Hakes but it took until the last minute of the game for the only points of the second half to be scored.
Burnham kicked a penalty deep and rumbled over the home line with a driven lineout. Sam Coles claimed the score.
The league takes a break now until January 4, when St Ives travel to Tavistock in what promises to be another massive bottom of the table scrap, but they will take some consolation from the fact that losing to Burnham did not cost them any ground in the battle to avoid relegation.
Tavistock and Bude both remain below the Hakes after defeats at Penryn and Devonport Services respectively; whilst the match between bottom of the table Paignton and fourth placed Teignmouth was abandoned with the Saxons trailing 34-6.
St Ives head coach Rob Elloway is glad of the chance to regroup and will send his team on a revenge mission to Tavistock, who narrowly won at Alexandra Road in September.
He said: "That one sticks out for me as a result which has irritated me all season because we have to beat the teams around us in the league. That game promises to be absolutely massive.
"We will have a bit of time off over Christmas, apart from the Feast game against Hayle on Boxing Day, and will then look to have a really good week in training before we go up there."
Reflecting on the Burnham defeat he said: "We played well to be honest and I maintain that we are definitely on the right track.
"The problem we had was that they converted all their chances to score points whilst we missed three or four clear two-on-one try scoring chances. You cannot afford to be doing that at any level of rugby."
CORNWALL & DEVON LEAGUE
Pirates Amateurs 13, Saltash 6
SALTASH'S rise up the table was temporarily halted as the rapidly improving Pirates Amateurs earned their third successive league win at the Mennaye Field on Saturday.
The blustery conditions made it difficult for either side to play flowing rugby, but playing with the wind the Amateurs took the lead on the quarter hour with a penalty from Rhys Brownfield, who added another after 33 minutes for a 6-0 lead.
A strong Saltash outfit took every opportunity to run the ball but were constantly denied by some committed defending from the home side. However, the visitors did hit back with a well-judged penalty on the stroke of half-time from Max Venables to make it 6-3.
Two minutes into the second half Venables levelled the scores with a tremendous kick from the halfway line.
But that was to be their final score of the contest as within another two minutes the Amateurs regained the lead when Danny Toolan showed great strength to score a try in the corner which was converted with a superb touchline kick from Brownfield in the swirling wind.
Both teams continued to look dangerous on the attack but despite the Amateurs playing out the final eight minutes with 14 men after Toolan was shown a yellow card, and the Ashes being camped on the home side's line in the closing stages, they were unable to break through the Amateurs' resistance.
Amateurs chairman Paul Greaves paid tribute to the work of the club's backroom staff for their recent turnaround in fortunes, after a disappointing run of results at the start of the season.
He said: "A lot of credit has to go to head coach Cullam Osborne and also to Craig Stevens, who has been an absolute revelation since taking over as captain, both on and off the field.
"It has helped having a few key players back in the fold while the likes of Charlie Goldsworthy have also made a big difference for us."
He added: "This was a really pleasing result for us, Saltash are a strong side and we were a bit worried at half-time that a three-point lead might not have been enough after having the advantage of playing with the wind in the first half.
"But it was a good all-round performance with the front row, Craig Stevens, Danny Toolan, Keiran Brownfield and Matt Nicholas all outstanding."
This Saturday the Amateurs travel to OPMs in the Senior Vase (2pm), and return to league action at home to Honiton on Saturday January 4.
Meanwhile on Monday night an Amateurs line-up will play a Geoff Cock Memorial XV in their annual match at the Mennaye (7pm).
Pirates Amateurs: S Osborne, A Hall, B Eddy, R Forrester, J Nicholas, R Brownfield, S Kent, L Edwards, C Goldsworthy, C Stevens (c), D Ross-Nicholl, B Brittain, M Nicholas, D Toolan, K Brownfield. Reps (all used): J Vosper, M Stevens, N Hitchens.