With only Coleraine beneath and languishing in the bowels of Championship 3, both teams were desperate to untangle themselves from the unwelcome grip of the relegation zone.
Report and pictures by Richard Owens
The quality of the expansive pitch in the Stormont Estate should reflect the play but would either team match the landscape.
Holywood’s captain Jordy De’Pledge’s monster boot got us away and immediately forced an error from Service as they failed to cleanly catch the cloud bursting ball. With Service looking jumpy, Holywood pressed from the scrum, testing the defensive line which held until a typical flanker infringement yielded Holywood a penalty which De’Pledge slotted home. 3 – 0 to the visitors after 5 minutes.
Play moved within the 22s and it took a weaving run from Service’s full back Daniel Clarke to set up his lock Sovita Turagabeci, who burst over the line from 5 yards to move his team ahead. Conversion from captain Jack Duffin pushed the score to 7 – 3 on 15 minutes.
It was only a few minutes later before Service’s right wing James Murray had his own sprint to the line, only hauled to the turf by an excellent covering tackle from Holywood’s full back Hayden Maxwell who couldn’t quite manage to prevent Murray offloading to his scrum half Chris Magee who had an unopposed run in under the posts for Service’s second try. With the conversion a gimme Service were in a 14 – 3 lead after 20 minutes.
Holywood missed a penalty shot before they replied with their own well worked try, more conventionally moved through the back line, finally ending up with the left wing Adam Rodgers who drew the final defender before neatly passing inside to Maxwell who touched down at 37 minutes. Conversion missed the half time score remained at 14 – 8 to Service.
With a slender one score lead for the hosts, the second half had potential for an exciting conclusion.
Potential was all we got. No more scoring from either team.
There were opportunities but with waxing errors and waning fitness, the play fractured and faltered to a lethargic pace.
Both teams desire to win was clearly evident but Service’s thin cushion from the 1st half was just enough to bag the win. When one of the players declares the match as “not one for the purists”, you might think the game hadn’t been worth the time invested watching but what I saw was another hotly contested inter club championship contest between dedicated, determined groups of players who exhibited all the best reasons to play amateur sport.