On a hot and sunny day in Cheltenham, Captain Elly Holliday and Vice-Captain Tzara Marriott led an 18 strong Civil Service Ladies team at home for the much awaited first game of the season against recently relegated Witney Angels.
Due to the end of a long summer there were a few significant losses to both sides resulting in the game to start off as 13-a-side.
Receiving against the wind, the game started off slow with dropped balls and a solid Witney defence. Line speed was the greatest enemy with both forwards and backs putting in solid work to try and gain ground. With shortened numbers Ali Jones identified space out back for a chip and chase only thwarted by an unlucky bounce for Tzara Marriott. Witney with the ball proceeded to pick and go before being turned over. With numbers out wide and swift hands from Jaqs and Hannah, Lucy Burnett darted off around the corner of the Witney defence for the first score of the day. Conversion missed. After a long series of forward play from Witney the Cheltenham defence tried to patch the holes where they could. However, Witney’s offloads and strong supporting runs were to be too much. A line break was made and quickly stopped by Lisa Lancett, this was a similar story throughout the entire game. Witney however pressed on with their first score.
Spurred on Cheltenham came back on the counter with interlinking diamond formation attacks from Jaqs, Lucy, Sol (a newly converted back), Tzara and Lisa to put Lisa in for the home sides second try of the match (conversion made), not before Ali trying to dive for the line herself and realising it was the 5m line. Witney then answered with one of their own through excellent forward play from the scrum after initially being held up by Ali Jones’ heroics repenting for her earlier mistake. The half ended 12-10
The second half proved service has grown fitter over the summer. Tzara scoring a hattrick from consistent line breaks, Lucy also scoring a further two tries for her hattrick, including passing play between Jaqs, Lucy and Sol for Lucy to then slip 3 ankle tackles to dive and stretch for the line. Jess Yeates also decided to get in on the action after a stolen ball and 60m run by Lucy set Cheltenham up 5 metres short of the line and 5m away from the touchline with a penalty for a high tackle. Unnoticed Jess took a tap and go and ran the 5m and all the way under the posts before dotting the ball down and passing it to Hannah who kicked consecutive drop goal conversions to keep up the tempo of the game, benefitting the ladies in red and blue.
Witney cannot go unmentioned with 3 tries of their own in the second half running down the wing and hitting the weak points in the Cheltenham defence. The game finished with a first try for Rowan Dalglish after running a superb supporting line. Final score CCSRFC Ladies 53 – 25 Witney Angels.
With a first win in the bag, Service left the pitch with heads held high with their performance. A special mention to Faye Walton for helping the opposition and a well-deserved pint for those pulling on the service Jersey for the first time today: Caroline, Rowan and Lou.
Forwards: Jess Yeates, Lauren Dransfield, Helen Stanton, Hannah Smith, Katie Lake, Ash Steyn, Aine McGovern, Caroline Plant, Faye Walton, Elly Holliday
Backs: Jacqueline Haines, Ali Jones, Lucy Burnett, Tzara Marriott, Rowan Dalglish, Lisa Lancett, Sol Ash, Lou Price
Try scorers: Lucy Burnett x 3, Tzara Marriott x 3, Rowan Dalglish x 1, Lisa Lancett x 1, Jess Yeates x 1
Conversions: Hannah Smith x 4
Forward of the Match: Jess Yeates
Back of the Match: Lisa Lancett