RN Senior XV v Oxford University
RN Senior XV
Whilst the rest of the country were battening down the hatches and protecting themselves as best they could against Hurricane force winds and more rain, the Navy managed to host Oxford University at Burnaby Road in their first senior XV game of the season. The pitch was heavy but safe and the weather bordering on unplayable, however the crowd and yes there were a surprisingly high number given the conditions, were entertained by both sides who were keen to play as much rugby as possible, scoring six tries between them.
The wind made it a game of two halves, with the Navy taking advantage of the elements first. Early territorial advantage resulted in some encouraging continuity for the inexperienced side, with Mne Nathan Huntley (30 Cdo) at the heart of the Navy attack. After a missed penalty early on, an excellent passage of play followed, with deft passing and quick feet by Huntley and debutant S/Lt Matt Howden (HMS BULWARK) eventually saw second row stalwart, POAET Marsh Cormack (RNAS Yeovilton) crash over for a try, after Oxford managed to stop a flowing move just short of the line. A successful conversion by full back AET Jon Humphrey (RNAS CULDROSE) made the score 7-0 to the home team.
Despite battling against the elements in the first half, Oxford played a good tactical game. Slowing the Navy possession down well and keeping ball in hand, kept the Navy’s chances down to a minimum. The Navy did not help themselves with a high penalty count against and turning over possession at the breakdown, resulting in few chances. However, on the half hour a catch and drive form a 5 metre lineout saw Navy add to its score and who else but LA(AH) Ben Priddey (RNAS Culdrose) came up with the ball, Humphrey’s added the conversion for 14- 0 half time lead.
If anything the condition deteriorated in the second half, with the wind increasing and the rain getting heavier, resulting in total dominance of territory by Oxford and a long 40 mins for the Navy. Constant territorial pressure, continued infringements and turnover ball throughout saw Oxford run in 4 tries in the second half, 2 from replacement George Postlethwaite, one from the excellent and constantly dangerous Ed Doe and the final one, to seal the match, from Oxford man of the match Will Rowlands. Throughout the second half, the navy fully utilised its bench, giving game time to, in total, 9 players who pulled the senior shirt on for the first time. There were notable contributions from Mne Tom Cowley (42 Cdo), Mne Dave Fairbrother (45 Cdo) and AB Matt Harvey (HMS Trenchant) in their first outing. The Navy pack put a shift in, particularly in the second half, where both NA(AH) Kyle Mason and the Navy’s man of the match LET(ME) Mark Jones were stand out men.
Overall the Head Coach, POAET Owen Salmon, will have been pleased with the commitment, physicality and determination of his young squad but I am sure will be working on the discipline and contact skills in the days and weeks to come – hoping for a break in the weather so that rugby dominates the headlines.
The Navy take on Esher RFC, at Esher on 19th Feb, KO 1915.