Navy U23s Face Double Defeat: Bristol University Sides Prove Too Strong

20 September 2023

18:20 @ Coombe Dingle Sports Complex

U23 XV


Bristol University RFC

Navy u23s returned this weekend, after their defeat at Havant, hoping to secure their first win of the season. In a game, played under unusual circumstances, which saw Bristol University putting out an entirely new squad at half time, the boys in blue didn’t shy away from the challenge.

The first half was a back and forth affair, with neither side getting the upper hand. The Navy u23s had clearly improved on their last outing, and seemed far more comfortable going through the phases. There were several attacking opportunities for the Navy u23s, deep in the opposition 22, however they kept coming up short.

The end of the first half was drawing near and it looked like the Navy would see out a draw with the first of the Bristol teams, but Bristol had other ideas. Having planted themselves on the Navy’s 5 metre line, some aggressive carries from the base of the ruck pushed Bristol’s loosehead prop over the line for the first try of the game. But that wasn’t it for Bristol who got back up the pitch with the clock in the red, and in a Déjà vu moment, the loose head prop was once again being pushed over the line from a pick and go. Both tries were converted and the first half ended 14 - 0 to Bristol.

The second half saw a new Bristol University team come onto the field in their alternative white kit, as opposed to the red home kit worn in the first half. The Navy u23s came back onto the field having been pushed physically in the first half , and unfortunately some tired legs started to show in the results.

Bristol University got an early lineout deep in the Navy’s 22, and a few phases of crashball from the back of the lineout, saw Bristol get the ball over the line and open up the second half scoring to 21 - 0, setting the tone for the rest of the half.

Navy u23s wanted to get straight back in it, with a quick burst of pace from Vice Captain Hussle, beating defenders, and offloading in the tackle. Navy u23s were back in Bristol's 22, but trying to keep the ball alive cost them dearly, when shipping the ball right to the wing allowed Bristol 10 to make a miracle interception, and ran the length of the pitch scoring Bristol's 4th try.

The sailors were up against fresh legs and it started to show as unforced handling errors and lack of discipline in defence started to creep into the game. The fresh Bristol team were able to take advantage of the errors and extended their lead to 42 - 0.

The Navy u23s were up against it in the second half, but they weren’t going to leave Coombe Dingle empty handed. A strong scrum from the Navy forced a penalty deep in the 22, and a quick tap from scrum half Criddle, put the team in a strong position on the 5 metre line. The Navy took advantage of Bristols stretched defence, and a quick pass from the ruck put replacement Josh Turnham in space to get over the line and finally get the Navy on the board late into the second half.

However the students boys had to have the last say and scored from a grubber resulting in a final score of 49 - 5. Certainly an improvement on the game at Havant, the squad seemed far more comfortable putting the ball through the phases, but when it came down to the finish, they struggled to get the ball over the line. The score certainly didn’t reflect the effort the Navy put into the game, with the majority of the tries being scored by the fresh legs of the second Bristol university team, pushing the boys to the limits.

The Navy moves onto Cardiff Metropoliton University on October 7th still hunting down that first win of the season. See you there.

Navy U23s: S Brittle, C Postle, C Davis; H Scutt, A Watson (c); T Oram, B Rees, A Hussle (vc); M Criddle, S Griffiths, J Davis, W Findlay, H Johnson, J Ryder, J Hoffman.

Replacements: J Wright, A Einchcomb, J Turnham, K Cuthbertson, H Johnson, G Jenkins.


Words by Archie Carter-Humphries

Images by Peter Smith