If you are to believe the sensor on my car, as we pulled up outside Devonport Services RFC’s refurbished ground, it was 24C at 2.15pm. This was going to be a hot one on a pitch that looked amazing on this late summer day.
The game kicked off and within a minute the Saints were given an early opportunity to test their pack in a scrum, and it held firm. Prop Ethan Pearce-Cowley picked up an injury just before that scrum and after realised he couldn’t continue, giving front row sub Brandon Haque an early debut. A penalty kicked to the corner put Saints on Services 5m line. The line out worked well and after an initial catch and drive the maul slowed to a stop. CJ Boyce spun the ball out and Matt Shepherd cut into the line and just reached the ball over 6m in from the touch. The subsequent conversion was missed by Shepherd. 0-5 after 5’.
The next close to 15 minutes consisted of services starting to find their feet and testing the Saints. No.10 Richard Goldsby-West tried a chip over and chase only for Bullen to safely watch the ball go dead. A collapsed scrum gave Services opportunity to kick to midway in the Saints twenty-two, only for the Saints to steal it and clear. With services having more possession in this period it allowed them to show their intent, which was to spin wide when possible and this they did, to either wing, at speed, but the Saints defence held strong, although Services looked very capable when they did move the ball.
Eventually Shepherd And Cavan Boyer run the ball out of the Saints half to the Services 10m line and give the team a breather but not for long! A fumble on the half-way line opens the gate for Services No.5 Micheal Rikard to have a run, getting as far the Saints twenty-two before being pulled down. From the ruck its quickly spun out to No.13 Harrison Reburn who finds a gap to score under the posts. Goldsby-West converts. 7-5 after 18’.
From the restart, Services pin the Saints in their twenty-two, recycling and spinning wide, testing and stretching the Saints defence. The Saints squad work hard to defend in the heat of the day until No.10 Goldsby-West decides the time is right and pulls off a 10/12 crash ball, putting Tom Richards through to score. Goldsby-West converts. 14-5 after 23’.
Saints spend a little time in the Services half, probing down the middle with Kellow, Marriott and Inch taking turns to find holes but Services defend well. Saints get themselves to a 5m line out but it comes to nothing as Services start to suss out the Saints calls. Saints kept up the pressure around the Services twenty-two but some handling errors kept them from converting the opportunity into points. Half Time 14-5.
Saints kept the team the same whilst Services swapped out one of their front row for the second half which started with Saints having the wind advantage at their backs. Saints are penalised at the scrum and Services kick to touch in the twenty-two where they win the line out and Saints knock on. From the scrum Services continue with their policy of width, moving the ball out left then back right, eventually finding a gap for No.14 Keane Whittaker to run through to score. Conversion was missed. 19-5 after 46’.
Services smartly gather our re-start and go route one down the middle, looking likely to score, only to be thwarted by Shephard who wins a penalty after Services do not release the ball.
Saints fight their way down the field, earning a line out on the Services 5m line. They catch and drive, only to be held up over the line, allowing, under the new law, Services to then drop-kick their way out of danger. Saints now enjoy a period of pressure in the Services twenty-two. Wave after wave of surging runs from the pack are successfully repelled, until its fumbled and Services clear up field.
Services increasingly put the Saints line out under pressure. They appear to change tactics, kicking to touch in the Saints half out of hand, seemingly growing in confidence that they can steal at the lineout. On such an occasion they do steal and spin it Richards who chips over, gathers, and runs under the posts to score. Goldsby-West converts. 26-5 after 58’.
CJ Boyce is brought off a minute later with Dan Tyrrell his replacement. Services kick to touch in Saints twenty-two and steal it. They spin out to the 10 who attempts a drop kick that was so far off the mark that the ref doesn’t consider it an actual attempt and brings them back for a Saints scrum from where he kicked it. Saints 10 Chris Ashwin now needs to be replaced so CJ Boyce goes back on.
A occasion of note at the 70’ point was the debut of Joe Maunder for Saints, as he replaces Rory Jogo at no.6. Saints have another pink period where they have plenty of possession, giving winger Frazer Nottle some ball time and Tyrrell nearly getting through, but for a fumble that gave Services the ball and a gap to run through. Maunder made an excellent try-saving tackle.
Time for one more attack by Saints but possession is turned over on halfway and Richards gathers to run it in to score just left of the posts. Goldsby-West adds another 2 to make the final score 33-5.
The score line does not paint the whole picture. The Saints scrum held well on the whole, against a bigger pack and the defence in such temperatures against a well drilled Services unit intent on playing a wide game was commendable. Of course there are lessons to take back to the training ground next week but also elements to feel pleased about.
We go again next Saturday at 3pm when we welcome Keynsham to Tregorrick Park. Let’s make sure the stands are packed and we strongly get behind the Saints!
Few Things for you:
Ladies Day - ‘Ladies Day’ returns to St Austell Rugby Club on Saturday 11th September 21! All our ladies are invited to reach for the posh frocks, get glamorous and join us for a great event tailored just for you. A high tea luncheon created by our catering partner ‘Salty Bay’, a complimentary glass of Prosecco (then reduced price by the bottle thereafter), live rugby as the saints take on Keynsham then ‘The Tregony Teachers’ live on stage for you to get your groove on with. More details are HERE. It’d be great to sell out this event early so please do chat amongst friends and get some posse’s up for this!
Pre-Match Lunches – The process of booking a pre-match lunch, due to volunteer resource adjustments, had to change. I fretted over the new process for some time as I was concerned people wouldn’t like it. I was wrong and a lesson has been learned. After putting out the first 4 pre-match lunches for sale, the pace of bookings has been phenomenal. There are only, as I type this, 14 seats left out of 328. There are 5 for the 25th September ‘Roast’ Lunch and 9 for the 27th November ‘Taste of the South’ lunch. Whilst we will be releasing the next batch of lunches for the post-Xmas period in mid-October, please do grab these few remaining seats left right now. More details on how to book and the menu’s are HERE.
Senior Players Award Scheme (SPAS) – Some have already received their cap and/or tie to recognise their senior playing efforts. If you are an ex-senior St Austell RFC players and don’t know what we are talking about, please click HERE and have a read.
We will be holding the next awards ceremony on Saturday 25th September at 5pm, straight after the Saints v Newent game. The article listing all those who have awards to pick up is HERE. If you are on the list but can’t make it, please let me or any of the Exec, or Miles/Kyle know. We will be having another one a bit later in the season so you can get yours then.
Non-playing membership – Become a VP, Cardinal or ‘Supporter’ member and enjoy a raft of newly defined benefits, such as, for VP and Cardinal, your first couple of pints on us, entry into a free prize draw for a bottle of spirits at each Saints home game, function room discounts, discounted bar events, access to international tickets and more. Something exclusive to the VP package is a superb new ‘VP’ tie, in the new senior players award scheme colours. It really is worth becoming a member this season! Have a read for yourself by clicking HERE
The ‘Buy a Brick’ 2021/22 Campaign - An exciting new opportunity to become, literally, part of the club for the 2021-2022 season. The new Saints supporters board is now in place on the walls that wrap pour main staircase, for everyone who enters the club to see, smile at and admire the humour and outright affection at this fantastic club! It’s just £25 for a single brick (if you join as a VP member then you get a brick as part of the fee), or £100 for a 4xbrick for businesses to use to show their support whilst highlighting their brand and presence. Bags of room for humour in this, with up to 4 lines per brick to get that message out there. More details HERE .
Walking Rugby - Everyone is welcome to come throw the egg-shaped ball around at a walking pace. Very simple rules with lots of laughs so it suits the complete and utter novice as much as the seasoned player. Fridays they meet at 6.20pm by the stand to get sorted to start at 6.30pm. Just wear something you can move easily around in and some trainers. More Details HERE
The 100 Club is an amazing and simple way to support the club. For just £5 a month you get to enter and win one of 3 cash prizes. It’s easy to enter so to find out more please click HERE