Navy U23s Ignite Burnaby Road with a Spectacular Win Over Portsmouth University – A Fireworks-Filled Victory!

03 November 2023

19:00 @ USSG Portsmouth

U23 XV


Portsmouth University U23

There was an eerie atmosphere in the build up to this match. Fireworks littered the skies around Portsmouth as the Navy U23s went through their final preparations for their first home game of the season. It was Friday Night under the lights, and the Uni boys didn’t just show up to play, but their crowd did too, as the steady flow of university supporters made good use of the open bar throughout the night.

The game kicked off, and the Navy didn’t waste any time putting their stamp on the game. Not even 10 minutes had passed before the Navy had put themselves into a scoring opportunity, having won a penalty on the 22 and opting for the line out, rather than the points. The gamble paid off, after a free play from a collapsed maul gave Charlie Davis the opportunity to pick and go, blasting through three opposition players, and throwing himself over the line for a try. 5 - 0 Navy.

It wasn’t long after the restart before the Navy re-established themselves back in the University's half. Jack Davis got his hands on the ball, and with a bit of individual brilliance and a hop, skip and a jump, he beat 3 defenders and dotted the ball down over the line, scoring the Navy's second try in under 10 minutes. The conversion from Harry Mayes meant the score was 12 - 0, giving the Navy U23s breathing room for the rest of the game.

Portsmouth University’s only real scoring opportunity came in the first half, as they planted themselves inside the Navy 22. Opting for scrum after scrum, an area the Uni boys found great success throughout the game, they were able to keep the pressure on. However, when the Navy’s lack of discipline began to creep in, and the Uni boys were offered free play, they just couldn’t find a way to make use of it. The screw kept turning, and unfortunately for the students, they were the first to lose their composure, conceding play to a forward pass, and giving the Navy an opportunity to relieve themselves of the persistent University attack.

Portsmouth had squandered their opportunity, but if they could go into the second half keeping the scores where they were, the game would still be all to play for. Unfortunately for them, the Navy had luck on their side that night. A quick attack from the Navy saw the ball go loose and bounce its way into the hands of scrum half Attwood right on the opposition's 5 metre line. Attwood offloaded the ball to Ben Callard, who scored in the corner to see out the first half.

The Navy made use of their home advantage, as it was back into the dugouts for half time. Although it may not have felt like home for the players, as more students made their way into the grounds. Portsmouth University certainly had the crowd on their side, the crowd who seemed to disagree with almost every decision made by the referee and his assistants. The energy from the crowd should’ve been just what the university needed to get themselves back into the game.

Unfortunately for the stuedents, it wasn’t enough of a boost, and the second half really boasted how far Navy U23’s have come since the start of the season. There were very few moments in the rest of the game that took place outside of Portsmouth University’s half, as the Navy were relentless in their defence, making turnovers at the breakdowns, and consequently turning those into points.

Ben Callard managed to bag himself a brace, and Captain Watson got himself a try, leaving the scores at 27 - 0. Portsmouth had their final chance at an attack, as full back Baden broke the line and made a great run, however the pass didn’t find the target, and the ball went into touch, calling time on the game.

Portsmouth University deserves a lot of credit, not just for their performance but for the atmosphere they brought with them. However, the game showed just how far the Navy have come this year, and they have put themselves in good stead, heading into the Inter Service fixtures.

To sum up, if the U23s want to take anything away from an amazing game, it’s that the Navy, playing at Burnaby Road on a Friday Night, doesn’t disappoint.

Team captain Andy Watson said, “Really Good [performance]. A few combos coming out in the back line. Thought they linked up well together. A couple of missed opportunities perhaps, but you know I think it was the point of this game to try them out and they came through in the end…the RAF gave us quite a good game last year and we're expecting them to turn up and really, really fight for it this year. So, very excited!”

Ben Priddey said, “Friday night was a good fixture for us and with 3 wins on the bounce has set us up nicely for Inter Service. I believe we are ready and in a really good place for RAF week and we can't wait to get started. I have about 70% of the team in my head but there will be a few discussions this week with the coaching staff to confirm what combinations to go with which will hopefully be enough to take down the RAF.”

Royal Navy U23s: A Einchcomb, C Goldsmith, C Davies; C Kerr, T Horne; A Watson (C), B Rees, AJ Hussell (VC); C Attwood, G Pentice, J Davis (VC), H Mayes, H Saunders, B Callard, J Slark.

Replacements: C Postle, S Brittle, A McMillian, J Turnham, T Oram, R Hawkshaw, A Duffield, M Criddle, W Findlay, H Johnson, M Cagilaba.

Words by Archie Carter-Humphries

Images by Cinnabar Studios