Promising Start for President’s XV
Devonport Services RFC
A President’s XV, with a good mix of youth and experience, made a promising start to their 2015 campaign despite eventually succumbing 38-27 last night to Devonport Services. In a game of 11 tries the more settled Services team were always in front, but were pushed hard by a President’s XV side that took a while to find their feet but grew together as the match progressed. Captain Dane Smallbone will have been pleased with the overall performance and with more time together knows that his team can look forward to their next game away to CLOB with optimism.
Unsurprisingly it was Devonport Services who settled in to the game the quicker and soon had the President’s XV under pressure. Unforced errors, due mainly to lack of familiarity, prevented the President’s XV from maintaining any continuity when they had possession and the defence had to scramble on more than one occasion. Having created a number of half chances eventually DSRFC were able to work scrum half Jay Samuels in to the corner for the opening try of the evening after 15 minutes, converted by fly half Anstis.
The game was still going mainly DSRFC’s way but gradually the President’s XV began to find some cohesion and understanding in their play. From a penalty they were able to set up a lineout on the edge of the DSRFC 22. Securing their own possession they built through the phases before a sharply taken chance by winger Kyle Woods, converted by Dane Smallbone, gave them parity just before the half hour. While slightly against the balance of play, this was a good omen in terms of taking chances when they are presented.
Devonport Services soon regained the lead through their hooker before the half ended with both sides exchanging tries. On each occasion knock-ons in the In Goal seemed to have denied the try scoring opportunity although first Devonport and then the President’s XV were unable to clear their lines and profit from the error. For the President’s XV it was number 8, Joe Burton, who was driven over to once more tie the game at 12-12 before Wheal went over on the stroke of half time to regain the lead, 17-12 for Devonport Services.
The half time break saw a number of changes. Todd Croft was moved to scrum half with Smallbone coming to fly half, allowing Viv Wilmott to come on at full back. The pack was also freshened up with Jones, Humberson and Tooz-Hobson all taking the field.
A second try from Kyle Woods, once more brought the President’s XV level. Again it was the winger’s pace that allowed him to out flank the defence for the try. However, frustratingly, the lead was again short lived with Taylor responding almost immediately for Services. Taylor further extended the lead shortly afterwards with his second of the night and as the midpoint of the second half approached, DSRFC had a14 point lead, Anstis having converted both.
If Woods had shown that the President’s XV had the pace out wide their next try was one for the forwards and gave glimpses that with a little more time together the pack may well cause future opposition some problems. Having established a platform deep in the Services half the President’s pack were able to construct a solid maul that was driven towards the line for replacement Mark Humberson to drive over for the score. The missed conversion meant that the President’s XV were still two scores behind by at 31 – 22 and, with just under a quarter of an hour to go, the game was in the balance.
However it was Devonport’s time to show that they could also maul effectively and the President’s XV lack of playing time together was exposed as they tried to defend the DSRFC drive to the goal line. Eventually they were able to sack the maul, but illegally and the referee went under the posts for the penalty try and the game was in effect over, 38-22 with minutes to go.
Skipper Dane Smallbone will have been pleased with his team who battled all night and though the game was lost, they finished on the front foot. Again it was the maul that did the damage to the DSRFC defence and this time it was blindside flanker, Jarrod Hayler who finished it off with the President’s fifth try of the evening. 38 – 27 and a deserved win for Services but a very promising opening game from the President’s XV who can build on this performance.
RNRU Presidents XV: Chris Warner, Harry Collins *, John Court *, Andy Irvine, John Lamsin *, Jarrod Hayler, Leyshon, Joe Burton, Dave Coleman, Todd Crofts, Kyle Woods, Greg Loydall, James Shaw, Aaron Hunt *, Dane Smallbone * (Capt) Reps: Tom Jones for Warner 40mins, Hewitson for Court 60mins, Tooz-Hobson for Irvine 40 mins, Mark Humberson for Leyshon 40mins, Viv Wilmot for Coleman 40 mins, Luke Warrington for Loydall 60mins, Biko Satala * for Hunt 40mins
* - capped players
Next Match: Combined London Old Boys v RNRU President’s XV, Kings College School 11 February KO 19:30
Images Alligin Photography / © Mark Andrews