By Paul Hayes


St Austell 41 Weston-super-Mare 24

ST AUSTELL overcame a crippling injury list and a determined opponent to secure the win that ensures Regional One rugby next season. A fascinating game that pitted Weston’s powerful forwards against the Saints’ fluid backline was still in the balance at half-time. 

The kick-off was preceded with a minute's applause to honour Amanda Kellow who sadly passed away on Thursday. Amanda and her husband Tony played a huge role in steering the club through some very difficult times. Their dedication and commitment laid the foundations for the current success being enjoyed at St Austell RFC on and off the pitch.

The game kicked off in gloomy conditions and it was the home side that made the early running as Chris Ashwin picked out Sam Parsons amongst a plethora of decoy runners. The Saints centre sent through a deft sidefoot grubber kick that split the defence to score the opening try with 10 minutes gone (5-0). 

Indiscipline at the breakdown was allowing the visitors to build up some momentum and a rolling maul crashed over the line to put them in front on 18 minutes (5-7). 

The Saints response was instant as Ashwin’s sublime pass found Max Bullen swooping in off his wing to restore the home lead (12-7). 

The penalty count continued to tick upwards and was beginning to test the patience of referee Ciarán Elster who gave a stern warning to skipper Ben Plummer. 

The Weston forwards had the bit between their teeth, and a series of close quarter drives eventually thundered over the line to put the visitors back in front (12-14). 

The home side were again pinned down in a corner and a collapsed maul led to an inevitable yellow card for hooker Jack Grigg.

Weston reset their catch and drive to notch their third try and stretch the lead to 12-19. 

But with half-time approaching, scrum-half CJ Boyce leveraged a strong scrum to send Shepherd on his way to score under the posts. The conversion made it all square at the interval (19-19).

The Saints got off to a nervy start to the second half, but a 35-metre penalty from Shepherd nudged the home side in front (22-19). 

The always alert Shepherd spotted the opportunity for a quick tap penalty following an offside, and he fed Plummer who squeezed in at the corner (27-19). 

A rare visit to the Saints 22 allowed the Weston forwards to rumble again and a series of well-executed drives saw Gary Carpenter add their fourth try of the day with just over 10 minutes remaining (27-24). 

The Saints finished proceedings with two superb tries. Quick ball from the forwards allowed Ashwin to pick out Bullen with a long pass. The flying winger fended off two defenders before passing inside to Shepherd (34-24). 

With time up, Ashwin was at it again, this time springing Shepherd into the open spaces, an exchange of passes with Jamie Stanlake had the Saints full-back tearing a strip through Weston territory. A perfectly timed pass to Plummer allowed the Saints’ skipper to dive in at the corner. 

Shepherd’s second touchline conversion made the final score 41-24.

St Austell visit Barnstaple on Saturday (2.30pm).

ST AUSTELL: Matt Shepherd, Max Bullen, Sam Parsons, Ben Plummer (capt), Dan Tyrell, Chris Ashwin, CJ Boyce; Matt Boothby, Jack Grigg, Scott Pearce, Jake Arms, Tony Knight, Henry Hutchinson, Cam Taylor, Kaydan Michael. Replacements: Charlie Nicholson, Dan Job, Jamie Stanlake.

Tries: Parsons, Bullen, Shepherd (2), Plummer (2); Convs: Shepherd (4); Pens: Shepherd.

Star Man: Sam Parsons – Another masterclass from the Saints centre that kept those around him focused on executing the gameplan.