Saints keep up winning start after thriller
St Austell 24, Kingsbridge 18
ST AUSTELL go to Okehampton tomorrow looking to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season after their third successive win kept them top of Western Counties (West).
The Saints saw off Kingsbridge in a clash between the best two attacking teams in the league which lived up to expectations.
From the kick-off, it was clear that the league leaders weren't going to have it all their own way. Seven minutes in, the Saints conceded a penalty which Kingsbridge put into touch inside the home 22.
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From the lineout, they launched a driving maul with Andy Hamilton scoring a try to make it 5-0.
The Saints regrouped and as the game ebbed and flowed, ten minutes later being awarded a penalty which they used to get a five metre lineout. The ball was moved out wide and Sam Tank scored. Matt Shepherd converted to make it 7-5.
However, shortly after the restart, Kingsbridge used a penalty to regain the lead through Ben Newman. Both sides returned to the fray, upping the intensity with St Austell seemingly unable to use a slight edge to regain the lead. Suddenly Paul Winterbottom broke through the main Kingsbridge defence just inside his own half and charged down the pitch.
The full back managed to bring him down short of the line, but in doing so gave away a penalty for not releasing, allowing Shepherd to regain the lead, 10-8 just before half-time.
As the teams came back for the second half, the Saints got an early penalty for offside which Shepherd used to make it 13-8. Kingsbridge came back harder, maybe a bit too hard, as having used a penalty to get a lineout, the ball was turned over in a ruck in the Saints' 22 and the home side got a penalty.
As they walked back, back chat from the home side saw the penalty reversed, which resulted in a lineout, maul, unconverted try combination to pull the scores level at 13-13, Jack Cope getting the honours.
Yet three minutes later, Kingsbridge gave away a penalty, which Shepherd kicked to take back the lead at 16-13.
The next breakthrough came 15 minutes later, a Kingsbridge lineout on their 22 was judged to be not straight. The resulting scrum saw St Austell move the ball wide and well-timed offloads by Andy Ashwin and James Earp allowed Sam Tank to get his second try of the afternoon.
Eight points up and ten minutes to go might have seemed to be enough, but Kingsbridge weren't finished. Another penalty, lineout, unconverted try by Shaun Hutchins made it 21-18 with eight minutes to go.
The Saints continued to press forward and Kingsbridge worked hard to contain them. Into injury time, the visitors conceded another penalty, which Shepherd kicked to make it 24-18.
Saints director of rugby, Steve Murley said: "We may have won ugly, but we still won."
After tomorrow's game at Okehampton, the following week, September 29, sees them at home to Penryn with the RFU president in attendance.