For 35 minutes, Service played their best rugby of the season against a young and fit visiting team. During this period Service made every tackle, rucked effectively and supported their own ball-carriers, with the tight-five once more holding the upper hand in the scrum.
MoM Shay Lewis tackled, jackaled and carried ferociously – channelling his aggression in all the right ways. Josh Paine, at 10, controlled the back-line effectively and formed a solid – very solid – midfield defence alongside Arron Hudson at 12, who also crashed the ball up on numerous occasions.
Fairford battled hard against the tight Service defence for 20 minutes, searching for the first score –the home team’s experience countering the visitors’ youth and natural athleticism. When the first score did come, it was a result of a break in concentration from Service at a lineout, but within minutes they were level, when quick hands fed Will Day on the right wing. Day still had 30 metres and a couple of defenders to beat, but managed to dot down assuredly between the posts for Dan “Imhotep” Wilson to add the extras.
With half-time beckoning, Service ran a tap-penalty straight at the Russian guns when other options were available, only to turn the ball over and concede the second try, followed by a breakaway 2 minutes later. There was still time for a half-break down the left which saw the ball quickly recycled, only for DoD Stephen Yiend to knock-on in goal for the second week running.
So, 3 (slightly fortunate) tries to 1 at half-time and all to play for after the break. Sadly, age began to tell in the third quarter, and Fairford extended their lead as play broke up much more frequently. Nonetheless, Service rallied to finish strongly and left the field with pride intact, despite a scoreline which somewhat flattered the visitors.
Huge thanks to Little Timmy Jones -sorry, “Sir”, for blowing the whistle randomly throughout the afternoon to let us get the game on. Bring on Smiths next week. #VLS!