The game started with Dursley electing to play up the slope and the pressure was on Cirencester to put some points on the board early, as traditionally the home side pick up the pressure in the second period often coming from behind to win. Cirencester started the game at great pace and control dominating possession and territory. They were recycling the ball quicker than seen in previous games; their defence was outstanding with great line speed and positive tackles. The Ciren back row of Ryan Brookes, Joe Chambers and Jack Harrison were having a storming game making meters while carrying the ball, and defensively time and again knocking back their bigger opposition.
The Ciren platform enabled the team to sustain the pressure, spending much of the first half in the Dursley half. Ciren front row of Gareth Owens, Noah Newman and Scott Cannon operated at a level not seen this season, as did second row Doug Cooper who covered so much ground. Could the Ciren dominance be turned into points? This was answered when Ciren’s defensive line pressurised Dursley into a loose pass which was pounced upon by powerful winger Sean Pritchard-Nash who raced away 60m to score under the posts, and fly-half Mike Howell added the conversion 0-7.
This galvanised Ciren even further controlling the play between both forwards and backs, but they lacked the accuracy to turn their dominance into points. From a rare visit into the Ciren half, Dursley gained a penalty which they kicked with the last kick of the half; HT score 3-7.
Ciren knew they had to match their work rate in the second half to temper the home side’s onslaught down the slope. They responded with such bravery and skill. Ciren centres Rhys Owen and Zeb Waite marshalled the mid-field with great aggression, time and again thwarting the bulldozing runners. The Ciren halfbacks with upcoming scrum half Hugh Williams and Mike Howell marshalled the players around the pitch well, spreading the workload across the team. Still CIren lacked that second score to put distance between them and their opponents. Dursley’s penalty count was increasing with all the pressure applied by Ciren, but from penalty kicks to touch Ciren were guilty of not finding touch enabling them to gain the all-important field position up the hill.
The turning point of the game came when with eighteen minutes left, influential Ciren captain Oliver Gibson made a scrambled tackle and whilst on the floor took an accidental knee to the head, knocking him out for significant amount of time, meaning he left the field with the help of the paramedics.
The break in the game somewhat broke the Ciren rhythm. The game started once again and from a scrum with the home side’s number eight crashing over from 5m, to take the lead. This did not thwart Ciren’s enthusiasm to win the game, they once again applied pressure, with full back Dan Halpin, winger Eric Spink working hard out wide to create that elusive score. Disappointingly it never came and Dursley held on for the win, with Ciren having to settle for a losing bonus point; surely the hardest point they have gained all season.
Cirencester sits in 7th position with a game in hand and 11 points separating six clubs.