United Services strong enough to stay up

United Services' Rich Neil. Picture: Neil Marshall
United Services' Rich Neil. Picture: Neil Marshall
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Player-coach Rich Neil insists United Services are in London Three South West to stay.

Services head to Old Whitgiftians targeting a third successive win.

After winning promotion from the Hampshire League last season, Services are determined to consolidate their position at a higher level - and can move into the top three this Saturday.

Neil is confident there won't be a repeat of what happened the last time Services moved up.

On that occasion they endured a miserable campaign and found themselves making an immediate return to local rugby.

Neil believes the club are better equipped to deal with it this time.

'We are far more ready for this league this time around,' said Neil.

'When we went down the last time a number of things had gone awry and were not dealt with.

'The club has rebuilt since then. New people, coaches and volunteers have come in

'We feel that we are now far better equipped.

'The systems and coaching structure put in place should stand us in good stead.

'The playing personnel isn't too dissimilar but they have bought into the system we have installed.

'A lot of work has been done on improving how we attack and defend.'

The hard work seems to be paying off with Services winning two of their opening three games.

After losing their opener at home against Winchester, they have bounced back with wins against Petersfield and Trojans.

They have scored 109 points emphasising their attacking prowess.

At Petersfield they powered to a 50-26 win after scoring 33 points against current league leaders Winchester.

Services make one change for this weekend with Alex Smith replacing injured prop forward Billy Rolfe.

The consistency in the line-up is proving a positive factor.

Neil is adamant the team are now playing at the level they deserve and need to be at.

'This is a terrific league with lots of local games,' said Neil. 'It is the one we want to be in.

'Apart from the local derbies already played we still have Andover and Portsmouth to play.

'The difference now is that we have lots of knowledgeable players in the squad.

'We now have a better understanding of how to win league games.

'The players realise that sometimes you need to be patient and not trying to make things happen all the time.'

The side have also been boosted by the arrival of outside half Owen Herbert from the Isle of Wight.

He has shown the quality to exploit gaps when they appear and added to Services' attacking options.

'Owen has great pace and is good at spotting gaps,' said Neil.

'He brings other players into the game and gives us another attacking foil.'