Newly appointed Captain Elly Holliday and Vice-Captain Tzara Marriott led a 19 strong Civil Service Ladies team away for the first game of the season to Northamptonshire’s Wellingborough.
News received halfway along the M5 that Service would be matching Wellingborough’s line-up of 10s did not seem to faze the Ladies, with all players keen to adapt quickly to new positions on the pitch despite the disrupted formation.
Sadly, despite Service’s best efforts to negotiate the wider space, Wellingborough quickly put the first points on the board within minutes. However, exploiting a gap, fly-half Jacqs Haines swerved the defence just shy of the halfway line and stormed up the field to secure Service their first try of the season between the sticks. Hannah Smith converted with ease to bring an equalising score of 7-7.
Following an even start, a series of frustrating missed tackles proved crucial as two consequential Wellingborough tries shortly followed. Eager to retaliate, Service reacted quickly, with powerful moves from Becky Parsons and Amber Coxhill that put the visitors just metres from the post. A quick ship out from Jacqs and a solid vision from centre Lucy Burnett popped the ball to winger Georgie Keene, securing Services’ second try of the game to bring the score to 19-12.
With a strong Wellingborough pack complimented by effective counter-rucking from their backs this led to Service conceding an additional try, bringing the score to 24-12 at the break.
Shortly into the second half a scrum in the Wellingborough 22 saw a blindside pass out to Georgie but she was captured just metres from the try-line. Some impressive pick-and-goes meant the ball was fed out to Ash Steyn who initiated an influential drive; agonisingly close, a secondary forward phase was introduced by Becky just inches from the whitewash, however savvy eyes from Ali Jones spotted Jacqs in prime position who proceeded to smash through the Wellingborough defence for her 2ndtry of the match: 24-17.
During a tense final quarter, Service found themselves in compromised positions deep inside their own 22. A series of exit kicks were successfully blocked by the attacking pack, leading to a spilled ball and as a result, Wellingborough driving home another try.
Both teams continued to threaten into the final minutes, with outstanding tackles from Tzara Marriott, Sarah Boyles and Hannah putting pressure on the attack. Wellingborough however continued to knock on the door of Services’ 22 and following a dominant push, the hosts put a final score on the board in the last minute of the game taking it to 34 – 17 at the whistle.
Despite the loss, Service left the pitch with heads held high, eager to face Dursley on Sunday 16thSeptember. A special mention to Sarah Boyles, Katie Lake and Flora Hodges who sported a Service jersey for the first time.
Forwards: Becky Parsons, Imogen Byrne, Sarah Bond, Helen Stanton, Salome Ash, Ashlyn Steyn, Amber Coxhill, Elly Holliday, Katie Lake, Faye Walton, Flora Hodges
Backs: Hannah Smith, Tzara Marriott, Cat Wallace, Lucy Burnett, Georgie Keene, Jacqueline Haines, Ali Jones