Cheltenham Civil Service Ladies fielded numbers aplenty in the South Gloucestershire clash on Sunday. With positive attitudes going into the game, Service were keen to capitalise on lessons learnt from the previous week’s encounter with Wellingborough. Narrowly missing a win, the Ladies bagged three tries, something they failed to do last season against Dursley with Elly Holliday, Tzara Marriott and Jacqs Haines all putting scores on the board.
The first try of the match arrived swiftly from the hosts, who came out of the starting blocks with vigour and pushed through the visitors defence just metres from the line after Service conceded an early penalty.
Shortly after the restart, Service were determined to hit back finding themselves in charge of the scrum in an advantageous position. Eager to pounce, captain Elly Holliday exploited a blindside opportunity and danced through the Dursley defence for an equalising try at the corner.
Evidently keen to counter attack, Dursley delivered the ball past the whitewash following a late call from the touch-judge. The referee stuck to the decision, letting the try stand, with the score frustratingly 12-5 at the break.
A series of knock-ons and turnovers proved costly for Service in the second half. Flora ‘DOTD’ Hodges blocked a scoring penalty opportunity and was sent to the bin having not even broken a sweat coming on as replacement. Reduced in pack numbers, a quick tap and go kept Dursley in check with their third try of the match.
Energy started to build however, as expansive backs play rewarded Service with an impressive try. Impeccable passing from scrum half Ali Jones floated the ball down the line to winger Tzara Marriott who blistered down the wing with assistance from centre Sarah Boyles putting the score at 17-10.
Pinning Service to their own 22, Dursley continued to push in the second half and after evading a number of tackles, secured their fourth try of the game. Unfazed, debutant Lucy Wood continued to cause havoc in midfield, driving the defensive line further back. Dursley’s desired pace was constantly brought to a halt with resilient tackles from Imogen Byrne, Amber Coxhill and Lucy Burnett whilst the second yellow of the game was shown to Dursley for a high tackle.
Drama continued as the Dursley defence narrowly pushed Tzara into touch following a strong 50m sprint downhill. Relentlessly, Ashlyn Steyn stole the opposition lineout deep in their 22; however, handling errors gave Dursley the scrum in mid-field. With the clock ticking, Service were victorious in the scrum and in textbook style, Ali delivered the ball into the safe hands of fly-half Jacqs Haines who ran a clinical line to deliver under the posts, further complimented by the boots of Hannah Smith. Final score: 22-17.
The 55-5 and 54-0 loss to Dursley last season seemed no more than a distant memory as the final whistle echoed. Cheltenham Civil Service Ladies look to build further momentum against Greyhounds in three weeks’ time with backing from a home crowd on Sunday 7th October.
A special mention to Lisa Lancett & Lucy Wood who came out fighting for the time first time in a Service jersey.
Forwards: Becky Parsons, Imogen Byrne, Sarah Bond, Helen Stanton, Salome Ash, Ashlyn Steyn, Amber Coxhill, Elly Holliday, Lucy Wood, Faye Walton, Flora Hodges, Jess Yeates
Backs: Hannah Smith, Tzara Marriott, Lisa Lancett, Sarah Boyles, Lucy Burnett, Georgie Keene, Jacqueline Haines, Ali Jones, Vicky Giles
Try scorers: Elly Holliday, Tzara Marriott, and Jacqs Haines
Forward of the Match: Ashlyn Steyn
Back of the Match: Ali Jones
Dursley MoM: Jacqs Haines