Cheltenham Civil Service RFC win against Stroud

CCSRFC 40 – 24 Stroud


The final home game of the season saw Stroud visit Tewkesbury Rd for what promised to be a great game of rugby. The home side were looking for a bonus point win and maybe, depending on other results, secure the league title on home turf.

However, Stroud had other ideas and were aiming to secure a league double over Civil Service. Weather conditions were perfect for open, running rugby and both sides able to field strong squads with 5 subs. This had the makings of a cracking game. A big crowd on the touchlines, both teams were ready, let the battle commence.The home side, determined to start well, were caught cold by Strouds’ impressive fly half who glided through a gap to touchdown after only two mins. A try he duly converted to give the visitors the perfect start. 0–7.

Would this effect the confidence of the home side? The leadership among the group saw Service start to assert some control up front with some powerful runs that tested the visitors pack and fringe defence. The scrums were equally matched and neither side dominated all afternoon. Nothing was asked for and nothing was given. Service however, were starting to get the better of the close quarters encounters, making the ‘hard yards’ down the middle with some great leg drives in contact and ball retention at the breakdowns. When support runners were not there Stroud took advantage and turned over the ball with great effect.13 minutes into the half, following a period of sustained pressure by the home side, an Ollie Wilton ‘pick and go’ from the back of a ruck allowed him to utilise his size and power to take him over the whitewash for his and Services first score of the afternoon. Converted by Markey to level the scores. Service were in the match. 7-7.

Both sides were throwing everything at each other. Some big carries by the Stroud skipper at 13 were met well by the defensive power of Paul Bartlett and Jack Gascoyne in the midfield for Civil Service who were equally running hard and good lines into and through the visitors. 27 mins in and deep in the Stroud 22, Service executed a perfectly worked training ground lineout move that saw Wilton power over for his and services 2nd of the afternoon in the corner. The touchline conversion was missed but Service had the lead. 12-7.

Stroud carried hard and continued to test the resilience of the home sides defensive structure. They forced the home side to get narrow and at one point had a three man overlap from only 5 meters out but unbelievably cut back in to the awaiting defensive players. The continued pressure eventually told on the home side line and with three minutes of the half remaining Stroud scored to level the scores. The resulting conversion struck the upright which meant it was all square at half time. HT 12–12.

The half time team talk was filled with confidence in the game plan and talk of the attacking ability the home side possessed. They now just needed to put it into action. It took Service just 7 minutes to strike the first blow of the second half when Jack Gascoyne burst through the visitors defence with a powerful run that saw him finish well under the posts after a last ditch tackle from the Stroud fullback. The conversion was sweetly struck again by Will Markey who was having a great afternoon with the boot. 19-12.

The accuracy of the throws from Skipper Ross Ruck at the lineouts and the aerial dominance from both Ed Cooke and Andy Lees were giving Service the edge in attack all over the pitch as well as being equally disruptive on the Stroud throw ins. Service were in the ascendancy. Rhys Ruck at scrum half was getting the big ball carriers running into the heart of the Stroud defence. Powerful displays from Matt Baker, Jordan Mayes, Tim Davies and Ollie Wilton were punishing the Stroud defence. Well supported by Liam Stretton and Ross Ruck, the home side gained dominance at the breakdown that secured ‘quick ball’ that they used well in mid field and then out wide with powerful running that gained good metres and territory. Service were looking impressive and playing to their strengths. Stroud struggled to cope with the Pace, Power and Patience the home side were playing with. Game Plan and Execution of, was giving dominance to the home side. Ollie Wilton, who was proving to be too powerful for the visitors, went over after 54 mins to give the home side a cushion and secure the ‘all important’ try bonus point. The try again converted by the faultless tee kicking from Will Markey. 26-12.

Stroud weren’t done and after Service failed to deal with the kick off the visitors went through the phases and found space out wide to score a converted try within two minutes to bring the game back to within one score. 26-19.

When Stroud kicked to relieve pressure Full back Joey Jones was faultless under the high ball and with lightening speed and quick feet he punished the gaps left in the first line of defence. One exception was following a kick chase that saw the high ball being taken by the full back only to be crunched by a perfectly timed tackle from the Stroud Skipper. Ouch! 20 minutes to go and it was a one score game…. this was tense.

Civil Service, with strong finishers on the touchline, started to use the bench to freshen up the tempo.Sam Townsend and Fran Cole came on to replace Joey Jones and Ed Cooke and Liam who were off due to various knocks and injuries. The experienced Dan Bailey also replaced Rhys Ruck at Scrum half. The on coming players all bringing something to the performance.The home side had a formula that was working and they maintained disciplined to focus on delivery. The tempo was good, the intensity was high and the power relentless. The Coach had asked for a performance and that was what the squad were giving.Another home score would surely see the game safe.

MOTM and triple try scorer Ollie Wilton duly obliged with his fourth and Services 5th, again converted by the pumped Will Markey to give Civil Service a 33 – 19 lead with 15 mins left.Stroud were now chasing the game and threw everything they had at the home side and straight from the kick off saw them take man and ball to bundle Ross Ruck into touch for an attacking lineout. Were they beaten? No, not yet. On 70 mins Stroud again playing some powerful rugby found space out wide and managed to go over the home sides line for an unconverted try.33-24.With 10 minutes still on the clock the next score was going to be crucial. Service emptied the bench that saw Max Widmer, returning from a shoulder injury, and Isaac Lewis join the battle.

Fresh legs and energy brought even more tempo to the Service carrying game. An exit, pick and go, and pod work from deep in their 22 saw Service drive the ball up to the Stroud 10 metre line. Continuity and ball retention that Stroud had no answer to saw Service narrow up the defence and then go wide to allow the impressive Paul Bartlett to drive through a tackle and score touch down in the corner. Another try sweetly converted by Will Markey. 40-24.

Five minutes left and Service played controlled, tactical rugby to see out the game. The best performance from a Civil Service Team in many a year against a strong, powerful and skilful Stroud side that never gave up, but on the day can have no complaints being beaten by the better side.

With Tewkesbury RFC failing to gain the bonus point win away at local rivals Bredon Star, these 5 points secured by CCSRFC guaranteed them the Gloucestershire 2 North league title 2021/22#VLS … CHAMPIONS … WHAT A SEASON . WHAT A PERFORMANCE … WHAT A TEAM…Full Time 40–24.

CCSRFC Crowned League Champions G2N 2021/22MOTM. Ollie Wilton – powerful carries x 4 tries DOTD – Tim Davies deciding to drop the ball rather than putting it down to score (But forgiven)

Special Mention to; All squad members this season, All club spectators, All Committee members and especially Jim McGeough CCSRFC Chairman.

This title is for everyone.