St Neots Saints picked up their fist win of the new season on Saturday, with skipper Matt Cartwright leading from the front in their well deserved victory, managing to score all four of The Saints tries in a hard fought contest against Daventry.
An early penalty gave Daventry the lead but Saints responded well and the forwards manufactured the opening score with a training ground catch and drive at a line-out inside the Daventy 22. With the maul driving hard for the line, back-row forward Cartwright looked up from the back of the maul, spotted a gap in the defence and darted through to go over for his and Saints first score of the day.
Playing with the wind at their back in the first half, Daventry slotted over a second penalty kick and then they scored a try to put themselves back in the lead going towards halftime. However, straight from the kick-off lock-forward Rhod Howcroft caught the ball cleanly and popped it to Cartwright who went around the advancing defenders before passing outside to fly-half Joe Woodgate who sprinted down the left wing and well into Daventry territory, and when the covering full-back approached, Woodgate passed back inside to Cartwright in close support and he sprinted in to score his second try, and importantly take back the lead as the half time whistle blew.
In the second half Saints had the wind at their backs and brought on fresh legs in the form of Andy Taylor into second row and Keiran Martin joining the back-row. As a result, Saints piled pressure on the Daventry defence and multiple offences inside their own 22, saw Daventry being reduced to 13 men with two binned for separate penalty offences on their own goal-line. Against 13 men Saints did score a push-over try with Martin picking up and going over, but the try was disallowed. But 5 minutes later Saints had another scum in mid-field and this time Martin picked up at the base and ran at the opposition fly-half, easily spun out of the tackle, ran at the covering full-back and drew the tackle before passing inside to Cartwright who again sprinted through and away to get his hat-trick try.
Saints were becoming more confident and on their next attacking phase it was the backs who linked up with scrum-half Will Smith getting quick ball from the base of a ruck to stand-in fly half James Michael who saw space out wide and a long miss pass found Cartwright out on the left wing and he sprinted in for his fourth and Saints bonus point try.
Daventry then came back harder than ever and they reduced Saints lead with a third penalty kick, and then a second try got them to within 3 points of Saints, and only a last-gasp try saving tackle by full-back Dan Miller stopped Daventry from regaining the lead. But resolute defending from all quarters held Daventy out until the final whistle, for a well earned and well deserved victory.
Rhod Howcroft kicked 1 of his 4 conversion attempts.
Team Captain Matt Cartwright said after the game "Going into this game we knew we had a very strong squad with the ability to go out and get the win and the way we performed did not disappoint! Right from the kick-off I thought we played with real intent and we were looking to attack from every opportunity.Team
A bit of a nail biter towards the end as a strong Daventry side pushed us all the way, but we held strong, dug deep and put our bodies on the line to get this result. And a bonus point win - Job done."
Jim Norton, Sam Morris, Ed Hunt, Rhodri Howcroft, Ross Hubbard, Matt Cartwright, Luke Marfleet, Rob Turner, Will Smith, Joe Woodgate, Ollie Donald, James Michael, Aiden Jordan, Guy Podlubny, Daniel MillerSubs
Josh Lofty, Andy Taylor, Keiran MartinScores T:
Matt Cartwright (4) C:
Rhodri Howcroft (1) The league: Midlands 3 East (South)