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Rugby: St Austell go back to top of South West One West with win over Cullompton

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 12, 2014

  • FOOLED THEM: Lock Mark Vian finds a gap to run in for a try for the Saints.

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ST AUSTELL went back to the top of the table on Saturday with a comprehensive bonus point victory over mid-table Cullompton as the sun finally came out.

The home side, resplendent in their change kit featuring the county colours, marked the occasion with an excellent performance.

Cully, to their credit, worked hard throughout to contain the Saints but in perfect conditions for running rugby they had no answers for the pace and variety of the home side's attacking arsenal.

The game kicked off in glorious sunshine in front of another healthy Tregorrick crowd that included many of the club's sponsors.

The early exchanges suggested a tight affair when after ten minutes Cully's full back Adam Pearce cancelled out Matt Shepherd's earlier penalty to tie the scores at 3-3.

The Saints were starting to get into the groove but stout defence and handling errors kept them at bay until the 18th minute. Excellent work by bullocking number 8 Adam Kellow created the forward momentum to enable full back Dan Pearce to accelerate into the corner (8-3). The Devonians stemmed the tide until lock Mark Vian strode away unaccosted from a rolling maul to dot down, converted by Dan Pearce (15-3).

Try of the half came after 32 minutes; the Saints pack went through eight phases of play before Shepherd released the back line. Dan Pearce injected the pace but winger Ben Chenoweth still had to beat the attentions of three defenders before touching down. Dan Pearce's touchline conversion made it 22-3.

With half-time looming, the bonus point was secured when flanker Paul Winterbottom finished off a line out catch and drive routine for a converted try (29-3).


Cully started the second half brightly but found the home side as determined in defence as they were fluid in attack.

Winterbottom turned over the ball to launch a counter attack that took play from one 22 to the other but Cully did well to force play into touch when a try seemed certain.

The Saints were not to be denied and when Vian stole the lineout it was the poacher extraordinaire Winterbottom who nabbed the try (34-3).

Saints continued to threaten but it took yet another Winterbottom turnover to create the broken field for Dan Pearce to tear through on a 40m run for his second try and fourth conversion (41-3).

Another free flowing move on the hour mark allowed Chenoweth to pick up his second try (48-3).

Debutant Josh Phillips crowned a fine performance with a well-timed pass to put centre Callum Wilson in for a try in the corner (53-3).

Not to be out done, centre partner Alex Welland crashed in under the post after the Saints had taken a scrum against the head. Dan Pearce's conversion completed the scoring and the match.

Needless to say in a performance such as this there were many candidates for man of the match. Adam Kellow constantly drove the pack forward, Treve Murley looked assured at fly half after coming on early for the injured Andy Ashwin, while speedsters Dan Pearce and Ben Chenoweth threatened every time they had the ball in hand.

The accolade, however, went to Paul Winterbottom whose presence in both attack and defence was key with two tries and a multitude of turnovers.

There are now just five league games left and the Saints sit top of the league by the slimmest of margins.

The next fortnight will tell us all we need to know about the home side's promotion prospects as they hit the road for two tough away games.

First up this Saturday are Chard, who are in the chasing pack with games in hand and boast an excellent home record.

The following week it is on to Bristol to play Cleve, who have been regular table toppers throughout the season.

The promotion race is shaping up to be an exciting and nerve jangling affair that could run and run until the very last minute of the last game of the season.

League table, see Page 79.

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