Rugby: St Austell beat Wadebridge Camels in Tregorrick Park thriller
St Austell 38 Wadebridge Camels 15
ST AUSTELL sent a packed Tregorrick Park into raptures with a stunning bonus point victory over local rivals Wadebridge Camels.
The home side put on their best performance of the season to score six tries against the side that had become the benchmark for the Saints' progress over the last two seasons.
Two titanic County Cup encounters had gone the way of the Camels by narrow three point margins, but the Saints went into the first league match between the sides for seven years in a confident mood after a good start to life in South West One.
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Defensively sound and potent in attack, the Saints thoroughly deserved their win and but for dogged and determined defence from the Camels the margin of victory could have been far higher.
The game was preceded by a minute's silence for former fixture secretary Howard Roberts, who passed away on July 11 2013.
The club decided to hold the act of remembrance for a loyal supporter at the first Cornish derby of the season, a game he would have relished and his "lovely boys" did not let him down.
The Camels took the game to the home side straight from the off with an excellent display of continuity play by their forwards. Despite clocking up the phases, the Saints defensive structures were sound with a series of big hits limiting the progress of the visitors.
Home lock Jeremy Grigg was already down injured, but the 14 men were still repelling all boarders until eventually a turnover was forced.
In a flash the Saints turned defence into attack and quick hands sent winger Ashley Taylor flying from halfway to touch down.
Skipper Matt Shepherd added the extras as the Camels scratched their heads trying to figure how ten phases in the Saints half ended up under their posts.
The hosts were grateful to winger Ben Chenoweth for snuffing out two dangerous Camels' ripostes, but the balance of play was shifting to the Saints.
Pressure at scrum time had the Camels scrambling to gain control of the ball in their 22 and remarkably hooker Miles Davey arrived to force a turnover.
The ball was spun the width of the pitch before Ashley Taylor grabbed his second. Matt Shepherd made light of the blustery conditions to slot the conversion.
The Saints were now dominant and flanker Ian Venner finished off a catch and drive with aplomb to grab his fifth try of the season.
The home side were now at their free flowing best and only gritty defence from the Camels was keeping them at bay. Visiting hooker Matt Ballard was also shown yellow for a deliberate knock on when a try seemed certain.
The Saints were not to be denied, after good work by the forwards, the ball was moved wide before centre Alex Welland dived and stretched to touch down in the corner.
A breathless first half ended with the Saints 26-0 ahead and the home faithful recharging their glasses in anticipation.
The Camels started the second half determined to slow the pace of the game and their containment plans work until the 55th minute.
Excellent work by Ian Venner and No8 Adam Kellow injected real forward momentum to produce the first quick ball of the half. Astute thinking by scrum-half Andy Ashwin put Matt Shepherd in space.
A glorious dummy by the mercurial fly half created a 2 on 1 with the Camels' full back Will Pengelly. Shepherd drew his man and his superbly timed pass to Curtis Newberry presented the centre with the simplest of touchdowns.
The Camels took full advantage of confusion in the home back line and a turnover allowed them to move the ball wide for winger Harry Woodward to dive in at the corner.
The Saints response was emphatic. The ball was reclaimed at the restart and with prop Hugh Noott twice making the hard yards to put the Saints ominously near the posts and Matt Shepherd showed great awareness and no little strength to force his way over before adding his own extras.
At 38-5 and with ten minutes to go the Saints can perhaps be forgiven for letting the intensity drop but the Camels deserved great credit for not letting their heads drop and grab two consolation tries through Woodward and lock Dan Lumb.
It was a euphoric Tregorrick at the final whistle, with the Saints convincing 38-15 winners with an excellent team performance.
There was one standout display from flanker Ian Venner, who led the charge in stopping the big Camels' ball carriers from crossing the gain line. A tackle count off the Richter scale from the Saints' very own "Mighty Atom".
This Saturday the Saints face another stern test when they travel to Bridgwater & Albion (3pm).