Seahawk battle in grim conditions against Hayle

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Hayle RFC v HMS Seahawk

On a typical winter’s evening in Cornwall, HMS Seahawk continued their preparation for the Navy Cup with a fixture against Hayle RFC under the floodlights. The conditions were inauspicious as the wind was blowing and the rain was heavy; so not so different from the Navy Cup final 2015 when a composed Seahawk side beat 40 Commando in similar circumstances. Following a limited but sharp and crisp warm up due to the conditions, Sam Carter led his team onto the pitch to face a much changed Hayle side from the last encounter.

From the kick off indications were that it was going to be testing; Ben Lenderyou and James McInnis were making metres in midfield but the final pass was never reaching its intended target. So at the 10 minute mark the Seahawk pack decided to keep the ball close home and control the game. Chris Warner backed up by John Lamsin were putting in the hard work, creeping up the pitch metre by metre before the ball was snapped away by Josh Belcher to the back line. The conditions never let up. The ball was spilled in contact on many occasions by both sides and whereas before Hayle dominated the set piece, this time there was parity at scrum time. Seahawk were in control of the game pinning the Hayle defence back but the score never came; Ben Lenderyou sliced through the midfield but found himself isolated with the ball being turned over due to lack of support. A fantastic break down the wing by Rob McIntyre failed to gain momentum because of lack of support (a constant theme). Sam Carter at 10 moved the ball wide with some great vision but the ball was knocked on or turned over.  Then at 35 minutes played the Hayle side attacked, moving the ball through the phases to finally release their inside centre who ran in from the 22, untouched, to score, conversion missed, Hayle led 5-0. From the restart Seahawk showed self-control but were unable to make headway and as expected after a couple of phases the ball was knocked on. From the resultant scrum, Hayle cleared their lines to end the half  with a five point lead.

Ringing the changes at the break, the second half started a little slowly with neither side enjoying the weather nor making progress with the ball in hand - a lot of mistakes were made. Hayle were starting to become dominant in the line outs taking a few balls from the Seahawk throw-ins and forming a maul they were able to drive the Seahawk pack just short of the line before Seahawk conceded the penalty. Rather than kick for touch, Hayle chose the scrum option. The Seahawk pack was tight and with a less than solid platform the Hayle pack was driven off its own ball. An accurate and sharp flat pass to Carter meant the ball could be cleared down field. Hayle attacked again from the line out but this time the ball was shifted to the opposite wing to try and stretch the Seahawk defence. Reacting to the threat, winger Cameron Oldridge and full back Colin Campbell were solid in defence as they drove the attacking player back and turned the ball over; the supporting players soon arrived and hit the Hayle defence down the 10 channel to gain 30 metres but again the ball went loose and Hayle were able to clear their line.

The half had become unsettled with the heavy rain to the detriment of both teams. An uncontrollable, greasy ball was mishandled by both sides, however there were glimpses of some fantastic line breaks and ball movement and even some structured phases. The fixture finished as grey as the weather with the home side failing to add to their first half lead.

In these conditions it sometimes feels hard to think that anything is being achieved on the field, but as history shows the side that adapts the best to the elements wins the fixture. Seahawk can take a lot of positives away from the game and they can identify areas which need strengthening, but it’s great to see new players getting exposure and experience (of Cornish weather).

Team: Chris Olliffe, Dan Lowe, Chris Warner, Liam Stephen, John Lamsin, Ben Welby, Gareth Bence, Luke Kitson, Josh Belcher, Sam Carter (c), Josh Tora, James McInnis, Ben Lenderyou, Rob Macintyre, Colin Campbell, Cameron Oldridge, Josh Warburton.

Words by Guy Pallet