“ A Crackling performance against the War Pigs”
Service took the short trip to Norton to take on a very different looking, strong home side in the Gloucester 2 North league.
Service, who were struggling with availability and needing to play forwards in the back line were going to require a disciplined performance to maintain their unbeaten run.From early on it was clear to see that the home side had intentions to front up to the service pack and with pace and power in the centres attempt to dominate the visitors.
It was going to be a tough physical encounter, and those that dominated the contact areas were coming out on top. The home side took the lead after 5 mins with an interception from an attempted wide pass in Services back line that saw the winger sprint 60 yards to be well tackled by fullback Joe Lucas, only for the resulting ruck ball to allow Norton to score in the corner, unconverted but the home side took the lead 5 – 0.
The strong Service pack started to dominate at set piece with the impressive Andrew Lees, with his first start for the Club, controlling line outs and the ever impressive Matt Baker’s power at scrum time causing the home side front 8 to be walked backwards on multiple occasions.
This set piece dominance gave the visitors a platform on which they tried to play some running rugby. Mistakes in handling from an inexperienced backline failed to make inroads into Norton’s well drilled defensive alignment that had good line speed in ‘D’ throughout.Forwards pressure was starting to tell and Norton were struggling to stop service getting quick ball from the breakdown. So much so that a penalty was conceded in front of the posts that Will Markey easily sent sailing through the uprights to make it 5 – 3. Service continued to attack narrow and took the home side on up front. Some big carries and power through contact resulted again in the home side being penalised at breakdown. Markey again slotted the resulting kick to give the visitors the lead 5 – 6.
Tackles were flying in in what was becoming a bruising, physical encounter. The home sides lack of discipline around tackle height led them to concede regular penalties which were expertly punished by Markey with some crackling touch finds and a further 3 points to take the score to 5 – 9.
Service, however, just couldn’t capitalise on the territory and when mistakes were made the home sides backs made ground which tested the resolve of the Service defence that was well organised by Rhys Ruck at 12.
Half time 5 – 9.
With Service playing up the hill in the 2nd half tactics were to keep the ball in hand and use the big ball carriers to test the home defence.
Ollie Wilton from Number 8 was immense and his power caused the fringe defence problems throughout, that gave the visitors a target to attack.5 minutes into the second half from a line out deep in the Norton 22 a perfect training ground move saw Dan Harvey go over the line unopposed for only his 2nd try ever for CCSRFC. That rare he wasn’t sure how to celebrate !!
Markey was again on target with the boot and slotted the conversion to give service an 11 point lead 5 – 16.Although the referee continued to penalise and warn the home side for the height of their tackles, they continued to target neck and head areas. The result was inevitable and after 18 mins of the second half the first of two home sides yellow cards was shown for repetitive offending. Service were dominating territory. Changes were made that saw a debut given to James Arnold on the wing, he certainly slotted in and carried well and from a resulting ruck saw the big hitting Ollie Wilton take out two defenders to score a well worked try in the corner. 5 – 21.
With a man down there were gaps starting to develop in the home sides defence that the impressive Service pack, excellently marshalled by VC Angus Guthrie, exploited time and time again. Driving around the fringes dragging in the home sides defence that allowed Louis Whitehead to stride over down the left flank following a long missed pass from flyhalf Markey. 5 – 28.
Services Leader / Captain Ross Ruck, having led throughout on the front foot, was forced to retire with cramp (thoroughly deserved as well with the work he had put in) that saw enforced changes in Service’s pack. Norton, who never gave up, pressurised the visitors line and following a late Yellow card for Services number 10 Markey the pressure told and they finished the game with a consolation try.Final score 12 – 28.The 17 players wearing the CCSRFC shirt should be proud of their individual and collective performances in what was a physical challenge against a very strong Norton team.