Mariners Regret Missed Opportunities

22 February 2023

18:30 @ Shrivenham

Mariners- RN Vets


JCSC Shrivenham

The Mariners management acknowledge they don’t have a lot of time but that they do have a lot of player resource. Putting out a significantly different team fortnight after fortnight is challenging but the team led out by Peter Kewn put on a show of determination and cohesion. A cynic would say they left three tries out on the field, but the Defence Academy were good for another two themselves.

The Navy side have a glut of good nines in Saberton, Cox and Kent with the latter quickly showing he has an eye for a break and turning defence into attack. In Jez Parsons they have a 10 who can accurately pass off both hands and a boot that brings reward. There were 10 minutes until half time when the Mariners suffered a terrible reversal of fortune. Parsons kicked a lauded 50-22 for the Navy. A loose lineout and a chance squandered as the Academy made 60 metres with a strong kick chase.

The Academy played with persistence and were unflustered in attack as the ball passed between lots of hands to score on the right. Their first try was pure training ground and the Mariners looked lost how to defend against it. Simple front ball lineout, miss pass as the centres ran dummy lines and the fullback sauntered through the gap.

The penalty count may cause some concern as the team looks to improve. The referee was of the ‘paint me a picture’ school and the Mariners did not do that enough for him. As the penalty count mounted it was surprising that a team yellow was issued to the Academy for back chat particularly given the timing as they were in the ascendency.

The Mariners will be pleased they ended the half with a try of their own. A dominant scrum won the penalty on the Academy's 5m. Quick tap from Cox, long pass from Parsons, tip back to Flowers and under the posts for Waryck. Gotta love it when a plan comes together!

A simple move broke through the Academy’s defence and but for a forward pass that failed to reach Naulago, the Mariners would have drawn even at the start of the second half. A period of Mariners dominance was not converted into points and the Academy earned themselves a 12-point buffer with another score in the corner.

In the final quarter neither side looked as enterprising as they did at the outset. There were plenty of big hits but there was also an abundance of space out wide as the players tired and the defence narrowed. The Academy competed well at the breakdown and typically won that aspect. Aware that even a slight slip up could lose the game, the Academy cautiously opted for a kick at goal. Fatefully it was the correct decision as the Mariners produced their best passage of play. Taking the ball three times down the blindside, Cox spun the ball wide to the opposite side and Full Back Plant crossed and Parsons converted.

Not willing to chance a miscalculation the Academy kicked the ball dead to end it 22 – 14.

Mariners ADoR and second row Aidan Riley said, “We worked very hard to put our game plan and structures in place. We also had a different squad once again as availability remains a challenge for those in managerial positions.

The structures didn’t quite click but showed promise. We are not far off and are coming together hopefully peaking at the end of March for the RAF. The TSG are pleased with the upward trajectory despite the result, especially against a young and fit side.

We felt we probably left 3 tries out there with a tendency to cut inside rather than exploit the space we are making. The Scrum was dominant, but we probably didn’t build on that dominance in the loose play away from the set piece.

Overall? Content, but with more to come as we get to know each other and our new structures better over the next few weeks.”

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin

Images by G Pallet