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Cheltenham Tigers 2s 5 – 49 CCSRFC

“Fiji Tame the Tigers”

Service made the short journey up to Newlands Park for a local derby against Cheltenham Tigers 2’s. Continuing injuries combined with last minute illness resulted in Service travelling with only 17 players.

After a tough game last weekend at Stroud, a strong performance was needed to put to bed the disappointment of the loss and get the boys back on track in their push for the league title.

Six minutes into the game and with the strong wind behind them the visitors fell off a couple of tackles and failed to clear their lines which resulted in the home side taking a deserved lead with an unconverted try. 5-0

Going behind and with Skipper Ross Ruck’s words ringing in their ears, Service upped the pace and started to play with tempo and power. Service started to assert themselves and began testing the Tigers defence across the whole of the park. The away side began to march up the pitch with the impressive Will Markey kicking well from hand and punishing Tigers persistent offside infringements. A resulting lineout on the opponents 22 saw Dan Bailey, in at 9, take the ball from the back of a driving maul and offload to the powerful running Tim Davies who broke through two attempted tackles and crashed over for Services first try of the afternoon. The try was well converted by Markey in the blustery conditions. 5-7

Although a windy afternoon, it was dry and conditions allowed for a game full of running rugby. Service started to gain confidence and take the game to the home side. Ollie Wilton returned to 8 and almost immediately began punching holes in the first line defence with his characteristic brash, punishing style of running really hurting the home side. Support runners were always expecting the ball and were regularly positioned just off his shoulder for potential offloads. The tempo that Service were starting to play with was something that Tigers failed to deal with and after 16 minutes CCSRFC extended their lead through Alex Richardson following some great hands that dragged the home defence one way then the other before an overlap was identified and utilised well to see the veteran Centre / Winger cross for a well worked try. 0-12.

On 22 minutes skipper Ruck, on a typically charging run, was taken out at ‘head height’ by the home sides prop. A ‘rugby reaction’ followed that once dealt with saw both players leave the field for 10 minutes. With the visitors skipper off the field would we see a change in the drive and tempo that Service were playing with? The CCSRFC pack were on top with Matt Baker, Andy Lees and Ollie Wilton consistently driving hard into the home side and making metres with every carry. Off the back of some great pod work from the forwards, Bailey fed Markey who, with a delightful kick through the advancing line, allowed blindside Tim Davies to chase through and outpace the defence for his second try of the afternoon with a great finish. 5-17.

Set piece was also strong for service with Isaac Lewis finding his jumpers in the lineout, Arron Hudson locking out the scrum well on his first start at tighthead and Mark Titley and Andrew Lees in the engine room supplying the power both in the tight and at set piece. With a couple of minutes of the first half remaining service finished the half strongly after a flowing move with great off-loads and support lines that saw Jack Gascoyne (returning from injury) go over for the 4th and secure the bonus point for the away side. 5-22 HT.

Playing into the strong wind in the second half CCSRFC kept the ball in hand with some champagne rugby being played by the visitors who looked dangerous every time they got the ball. Some great lines of running, aided by great support lines and quick hands, saw Service carve their way up the field much to the delight of the visiting supporters. It wasn’t long before the ever-impressive no.8 Ollie Wilton went over for the opening try of the second half on 49 mins taking his tally for the season up to an huge 22 tries. 5-27.

At this point the side-line would have been forgiven for thinking that Fiji were on the pitch with the skill of the offloads and running lines on display. The last 20 minutes allowed Service to “Jouer” with real swagger and conviction which saw one handed offloads, behind the back passes and a further three tries ran in by the visitors. In all honesty, every time Service attacked they looked like they could score. They were executing the game plan to perfection and playing with the Power, Patience, Pace and Precision that the coaching team expect from them which saw Jacob Hennessy, Ross Ruck and Sam Eastoe stroll over on 56, 60 and 63 minutes. 5-44.

In the final minutes Service looked to hit the 50 points total and the opportunity arose when Ross Ruck went over for his second try of the afternoon picking up the ball off the deck and stepping inside the last defender to cross the whitewash. The wind hampered the resulting conversion that meant the visitors had to be content with a 5-49 victory. 5-49 FT.

The only dampener to the afternoon was a serious looking knee injury to winger Jacob Hennessy that resulted in his evening celebrations being spent in Cheltenham A&E. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery. He’s in good company on the lengthening CCSRFC injury list.

An impressive league double against our local rivals with a combined score line of: CCSRFC 140 – 12 Tigers 2’s. Service are back in the mix for the league title race with a testing last four games coming up. Availability for both training and Saturdays are going to be key in deciding who wins this league.

MOTM – Even with 2 x double try scorers – Dan Bailey controlled the game superbly from minute 1 through to 80 at Scrumhalf. He bossed the forwards around, provided great ball to the 10 and knew exactly when to distribute and when to run. A fantastic performance.