1st XV - Report
|Birmingham C.S.||8||vs||3||Manor Park|
Civil Service serve up punishing defeat
ONE moment of opportunism ultimately decided this otherwise featureless encounter – and unfortunately for Manor Park it came from the home side.
Service had given themselves a 3-0 head start after 11 minutes when pressure finally told on the visitors and a penalty was awarded under the posts, and duly converted.
On a suspiciously narrow pitch most players wouldn’t have experienced since their junior rugby days, Park struggled to make the ball stick and spilled numerous balls when trying to make inroads through the clustered heart of their hosts.
Manor did have an opportunity to pull level a minute after the first score of the match, but Dan Joyce clipped his 30 metre penalty effort just wide.
Service were holding the upper-hand at scrum-time turning over two such setpieces and suffocating their opposition’s chances of building attacks.
Breaks from Andy Checkley and Sam Haslam did set pulses racing and defenders back-tracking, but it was all in vain as support wasn’t there to build any spells of pressure.
After stern words at half-time Manor came out firing with their best spell of the match.
Joe Reynolds collected an awkward pass to bust through a tackler but his offload to Lee Walker ten metres from the line was slightly behind the winger’s run.
Haslam went close from a blindside break but was prevented by a smartly placed Service defender who dived in at the side uncovered by the referee.
A lack of speedy ball recycled often left Manor’s backs flat-footed an under intense pressure from blitz defence – which again smartly poured forward over the offside line when the referee’s back was in view.
But credit to the hosts, this match was always going to be decided by fine margins and perhaps one moment of inspiration.
Led by a powerful inside centre often standing at first receiver, their chips and punts downfield were seldom returned with much territory gained – reducing Manor’s platforms for counter-attacks.
A penalty kick from Joyce with 15 minutes to go but Park within a converted try of victory – and within the seven point losing bonus point territory.
Joyce again had a penalty attempt on 70 minutes which drifted agonisingly wide.
The final ten minutes saw Service use all of their experience and the confines of their tight pitch to grind out a victory which they deserved, seeing them leapfrog Manor into third position.
Park will perhaps pinpoint not having two of their most consistent performers; Aaron Willis and Luke Powell at their disposal – but deep down will know this kind of team should not be earning victories at their expense.
mprfc.co.uk player of the match; Joe Reynolds - for a fierce defensive effort.