Service kicked off the 2019/20 season with a home game against Minchinhampton RFC.
The sun was shining on what was a perfect day for running rugby. Minch kicked off the game and immediately put the pressure on Service with some strong attacking play with well timed offloads out of contact. Service weathered the initial storm and grew into the game with some strong tackling and fantastic kicking from Will Markey gaining them territory and possession. Service struck first after a mis-thrown Minch lineout was plucked out of the air at the back of the line by the skipper Ross Ruck who crashed over the line to open the scoring for the afternoon. Conversion missed, 5-0.
Minch woke up at this point and took it right back to Service from the off with some strong running, particularly from their props and flankers who made metres every time they got the ball. Their first score of the afternoon came very soon afterwards after some missed tackles allowed their prop to run in from 15m and score under posts. Conversion successful, 5-7.
More fantastic kicking from Markey saw Service begin to turn the screw on Minch at this point and put pressure on their defence which began to concede penalties for silly infringements in the rucks. Service capitalised on one such penalty with the returning Jonathan Stickler sending the ball over from 25m to regain the lead for Service. 8-7.
As has come to be expected from Minch they again hit straight back at Service winning a few free kicks that were taken quickly to bring them closer to the try line. Some good pod work and a few crash balls resulted in them being held up just short before working the ball out to a slightly wider pod to crash over and score their second try of the afternoon. Conversion kicked, 8-14. The half came to a close shortly afterwards with Service finding themselves 6 points down but not out of the game.
Service kicked off the second half and immediately put Minch under pressure with a strong chase down. The next 10 minutes were all about the boys in blue and red as they started to find their belief. Some strong pod work meant the boys were making yards all over the pitch before releasing the backs who ran strong lines at their opposition. Eventually the pressure was too much for the away side and Service crossed over the line for their second try of the afternoon. Simon Bellamy, recently on at 9, marshalled the forwards superbly to take them to a few metres out before passing the ball to Ruck who crashed through a couple of tackles and reached out to touch the ball down under the posts for his second try. Conversion kicked and Service took the lead, 15-14.
If the first 50 minutes were mostly about the service forwards then the next 30 or so were definitely about the backs. Minch kicked away possession to Rhys Ruck, who’d made the position change to full back, who ran the ball back hard and created space on his outside. A well timed pass to Markey and some slick handling from the rest of the back line eventually released Ollie Wilton who broke through a couple of tackles before touching down for his first of the season. In an attempt to get closer to the posts he tried to step a defender inside the in goal area and almost knocked the ball on in the process, a crime which would have surely got him Dick of the Day had a certain someone not wore a suspect pair of shorts after the game. Conversion missed, 20-14.
Service were now in the ascendancy and were spreading Minch around the park well, good play from both forwards and backs sucked in Minch defenders all over the pitch and you could see their heads had dropped. The final try of the game came from a fantastic bit of poaching from Markey. Minch took the ball from a lineout 10 metres from their try line and spread the ball out wide to their backs. Their centre looked to have the better of Wilton, beating him on the outside but the service centre showed real tenacity in chasing back and eventually making the tackle. As Minch had done all game they looked to offload the ball out of contact but Markey was alive to this and reached out to spectacularly catch the ball that was practically behind him before running through untouched to score Services bonus point try. Conversion successful, 27-14.
The away side tested Services defence for the last 10 minutes of the game but the boys held on to keep the score at 27-14 when the final whistle came around. A great start to the season with a result that was perhaps a bit more flattering than it should have been. A great performance as always from Minch and a really competitive game of rugby from both sides.
MOTM – Ross Ruck. Two tries and some strong tackling meant the skipper got the plaudits but it was a fantastic performance from everyone involved.
DOTD – Timothy Davies. Came on in the second half, ran and tackled really well but then threw an American football style offload and wore the most ridiculous/offensive white shorts after the game.
The boys go again next weekend away to Norton RFC and look to make it two wins from two.