By Gareth Davies at Tregorrick Park
Jubilant chairman Paul Hayes says that St Austell’s promotion to Regional 1 South West is the greatest achievement in the club’s 60-year history.
Saints confirmed their title triumph with a resounding 76-7 win over Devon outfit Newton Abbot in front of a huge crowd at Tregorrick Park on Saturday.
Needing just four points to confirm their elevation to level five, Saints ran in 12 tries with Matt Shepherd bagging a fine treble to take his individual tally to 31 for the season from just 20 games.
Evergreen hooker Miles Davey, flying winger Konnor Ewudzi and replacement Max Bullen all recorded braces as St Austell racked up an 11th consecutive bonus-point win on home turf this term.
“Level five is the highest we have ever been in the RFU structure so I would say yes,” said Hayes, when asked if this wonderful accomplishment ranks above anything else Saints have attained in their six decades of existence. “Our aim over the past couple of years was to sustain ourselves at level six and we have done that.
“We now need to be competitive at level five but it’s all about celebrating now and enjoying the success, before putting our heads down for next season.
“We can take comfort from the fact that we played well against the teams that were promoted last season — Lydney, Devonport Services and Chew Valley. We have to travel greater distances and the play will be harder whilst rubbing shoulders with some very good teams.
“I don’t think we can lose sight of the fact that we are a very good side and we’ll stay true to our values as a community club which represents the people of St Austell.
“We will go as far as our talent and level of commitment will take us, by breeding our own success. We are not about attracting players in with inducement and if anyone wants to play for us, it’s because they want to represent this club.
“Days like this make our policy all the more worth it as our club is built on people that belong and love the area.”
Shepherd got the ball rolling with a seventh-minute score and Saints crossed the whitewash four more times before the break with the Devon All Whites’ points coming from Scott Mason’s 34th-minute try which was converted by Jay Barnes.
After the turnaround, Saints ran riot as Ewudzi and Bullen caught the eye with spectacular scores that demonstrated the hosts’ scintillating attacking prowess.
Nevertheless, Newton Abbot, who arrived in the Duchy on a run of 11 consecutive defeats, were spirited throughout and more than contributed to a wonderful 80 minutes for Saints, despite the lop-sided scoreline.
“It was an absolutely fantastic display from us,” Hayes added. “I must also pay credit to Newton Abbot, who did not come here to make up the numbers.
“Even though the scoreline was hard on Newton Abbot, we were deserving winners and played like we have done all season – a strong counter-attack and defence.
“We had a real desire to succeed and I am over the moon personally, but I am so happy for the players.
“They have worked so hard and put the disappointment of last season behind them resulting in a fitting reward.”