A welcome deluge of rain in the hours before kick off softened the ground at Tewkesbury Road for Service’s third league game of the season against Westbury RFC.
The boys kicked off to Westbury and immediately put them under pressure with some good defensive line speed forcing the first of many knock-ons in the game. Westbury looked to have a powerful pack but it was the boys in Navy and Red who were dominant at scrum time with Matt “Toby” Baker having the measure of his opponent right from the off. Despite Services dominance at scrum time it was Westbury who struck first with a line out in the Home 22 which was caught and mauled further forward. A pop off to their supporting crash ball runner allowed him to cross over the line and score. Conversion missed 0-5.
Undeterred by the early score Service hit back with Jack “you’re a wizard Harry” Simpson magical as always under the high ball which created a great platform from kick offs. This led to some good pod work from the forwards with the boys consistently crossing the gain line and putting the Westbury defence to the test. With the opposition defence sucked into the numerous breakdowns a returning Jonathan “teetotal” Stickler called for the ball to be spread to the backs. Some slick hands from Will “you ginger t**t” Markey and Joe “the mountain” Lucas brought fullback Paul“planes” Bartlett into the game with a mazy run from the 10m to the tryline to get services first of the afternoon. A really impressive try with Bartlett unlocking doors all over the pitch and walking in unchallenged. Sticks with the conversion, 7-5.
Spurred on by their first score Service again took it to Westbury and continued to dominate in the scrums which were now becoming a real weapon in attack. No. 8 Laurent “Bastereaud” Camps looked to smash into anyone and everyone from the back of the scrums and consistently made hard yards to drive service up the pitch. It was at this time that Westbury called it a day at scrum time and were forced to go uncontested due to their three props being injured. A big blow for Service who were using the scrums to win both their own and the opponents ball and create a real platform for the backs.
However, undeterred by the lack of contested scrums it was service who scored again with Laurent powering through the defence via an inside pass from 10 to touch down under the posts. Stickler again stepped up and nailed the conversion. 14-5.
Westbury exerted a small spell of pressure before the halftime whistle with some precise kicking from their 10 but it was service who had the ascendancy and went into halftime with the lead.
Westbury started the second half brightly, some missed tackles from service allowed Westbury to camp in the 22 with attack after attack. Some silly penalties really didn’t help the cause and the boys had to deal with 10 minutes of sustained pressure from the opposition. Some fantastic defence from Francis, Henry and Lloyd seemed to drain Westbury of their energy and led to them giving away a penalty which was thumped clear by Markey.
Some more great podwork around the breakdowns marched service further up the pitch. A kick through from Bartlett allowed Lucas to turn on the burners and chase down the opposition forcing them to touch the ball down in their own in goal area to give service a 5m scrum. Laurent picked up from the back of the scrum and again powered through numerous defenders to get his second of the game. The ever reliable Stickler slotted the conversion and there was now daylight between the two sides, 21-5.
Things then turned a bit sour, with Westbury seemingly through to score their second of the game Lloyd “Chris Froome” White flew across the pitch to tackle their winger and drag him into touch. The Westbury 5 deemed this to be a high tackle so slid in and landed a punch which was missed by the ref. Dan “likes to make friends” Harvey however did not miss this and decided to exact his revenge in the next play with a strong tackle. Another scuffle ensued with the Westbury 5 sent off for Eye Gouging. Not to be outdone Service were also down to 14 men (for 10 minutes) with Laurent being sin binned for not releasing at the breakdown one to many times.
With 5 minutes left on the clock service grabbed their Bonus Point try after some good pod play orchestrated by Simon “evergreen” Bellamy. Some slick hands from Stickler and Markey freed up Harvey to take a crash ball a few metres out. Bellamy then released the ball early to Ross“Wheels” Ruck to slither across the line for his first of the season. The conversion was missed and the score finished CCSRFC 26 – 5 Westbury RFC.
An ugly win for Service but one that was definitely needed and a really competitive game from Westbury. A third straight bonus point win however which puts the boys at the top of the table in Gloucester 2 North.
MOTM – Dan Harvey for putting himself about the park, hitting tackles and some great support play.
DOTD – Jonny “late” Dale for hitting the 9 so late the ref didn’t even see it as she was looking two phases ahead where the ball actually was.