Painswick RFC stops the rot with first win in 2 seasons

Painswick RFC took until November the 5th to produce any fireworks this year, but it was well worth the wait. Playing as much for the memory of long term player and club sponsor Billy Partridge, who died last week, as much as for their pride – Painswick finally laid the ghost of consistent defeat to rest, and won their first League game in 2 seasons, taking them out of the Gloucester Division 2 relegation zone for the first time this season.

Away at Bristol Aeroplane (BAC), Painswick took to the field in black armbands to salute their fallen comrade who had died last week in a vets’ game, and a 1 minute’s silence was followed by 80 screamingly loud minutes as the “dog” in the Painswick team came to life. For long periods it was not a pretty game, punctuated by tough, head-on hits, from both teams, and marred by penalties at the breakdown on both sides, as well as a string of handling errors, which denied BAC the early lead, and later denied them a foothold at the end of the game.

The first half was made up of a series of BAC attacks, as they played down a stiff hill, but all of their attacks broke on a firm Cherry and White line of defence. Two or three times centres Gidley-Smith and Williams, looked to go outside their opposite numbers, but each time the BAC scramble defence held and often as not the BAC flankers turned the ball over to add insult to injury. Two or three times it was the Painswick front five who the saved the day, turning over tight ball at the scrum strikes against the head. On one lineout on their 5-meter line Painswick stood off BAC, and were luckily awarded a technical infringement from an overeager BAC team, otherwise BAC would have bene on level terms.

On one Painswick thrust through the centres, the ball came back from a ruck to Fly Half Mayo on the halfway line, kicking cross field for right winger Marshall, who leaped into the air, taking the ball cleanly above the head of his opposing winger. He landed, rolled, threw off the covering tackle and took the ball to within meters of the opposition line. From the ensuing ruck BAC stole the ball, but walked it out on their 5-meter line, for a lineout to Painswick.

Hooker Coombs threw short, and Jeffries rose to secure the ball and set a driving maul. BAC tried in vain to pull it down and Painswick drove over the line for Coombs to score and for Mayo to add the conversion for a 7-point lead.

In the excitement of scoring first in a game, Painswick failed to concentrate at the kick off and on the stroke of half time, went offside at a ruck for BAC to kick 3 and turn around 3-7 to Painswick.

In the second half BAC failed to clear their lines from the kick off down the hill and a soft penalty to Painswick allowed Mayo to slot the kick to put 7 points between the teams once more at 3-10.

Complacency got into Painswick at this stage and they failed to put their hands on the ball for 15 minutes, losing 7 straight lineouts and were unable to threaten the opposition scrum any more. Coombs left the field with a head injury and BAC, playing up the hill, sat stubbornly in the Painswick half. One effort on the left saw the BAC winger go over the line unopposed, but he had put a foot into touch and was brought back. Sterling efforts by Neil Church on the left wing saw him take out the BAC scrum half man and ball at three consecutive rucks in Painswick’s 22, but the pressure had to tell in the end and BAC finally went over in the corner after a barrage of forward surges. They missed the kick for a tense 8-10 score line.

Painswick began to play themselves back into the game and with three scintillating clearance kicks Mayo took play down the hill into the BAC 22, and on one occasion three chasing Painswick backs were each forced to make scything low tackles to prevent BAC running the ball back out.

Now it was Painswick’s turn to sit on the opposition 22, and after several forward drives, the ball was spun wide against a depleted BAC defence, but it looked to be well defended when the final pass went behind winger Church.  But he went back for it, stepped inside his winger, accelerated away and reached out with one arm to dot down as the covering BAC centre tackled him, for the 8-15 final score line.