Burnaby Road Faithful Roar Navy U23s to Success
22 November 2023
19:00 @ USSG Portsmouth
Army Senior XV
The Royal Navy have won a feisty Inter Services clash against the British Army U23s in Portsmouth. This served as the opening match of the Inter Service tournament after an electrical fire at Witney RFC saw the previous week's RAF vs Navy clash postponed.
Supporters came out in force to see the Navy take on the Army on home soil. Crowds not only filled the stand but littered the side of the pitch more than 500 strong. The atmosphere was powerful and showed the importance of this historic fixture.
The Army made a great start and led through Ryan Eastley’s converted try. The early burst of pace from the Army 15 put the Navy on the back foot, but they weren’t going to be dragged into the Army’s game plan. The Navy came straight back out and secured territory beyond the Army 22.
Keeping composed, the Royal Navy showed confidence in their game plan, opting to kick for touch from penalties, rather than take points. The Army lacked discipline when they were put under pressure, a theme that would shape the entire match.
However, lack of success at the set piece left the Navy with nothing to show, and after 20 minutes, they needed to start the chase. They opted for the points and kicked a penalty through Jack Davis to start closing the gap.
The match was a tightly contested battle throughout, and the pressure of the moment saw a couple of brawls unfold as emotions ran high. The lack of discipline from the Army squad, however, saw the referee reaching for the pocket on more than one occasion. In the end there were six yellow cards and one red during the match, with the navy only picking up one of those yellows.
With the Army down to 13 men, the Navy were able to capitalise on the space in the field. Jack Davis was able to compete and gather a huge cross field kick. He had the space and the speed to beat the opposition and score a try in the corner. Converting his own try Davis put his team into the lead, scoring all of the Navy points in the first half.
Much like the first half the Army came out strong and got the first points on the board, making the game 10 a piece.
The second half saw more penalties, more handbags, and more cards. And in the dying minutes of the game the Army found themselves down to 12 men. An opportunity the Navy weren’t going to let go astray, and with one big push, Harry Saunders was able to drive through 2 defenders and score the match winning try.
Captain Andy Watson described the game as ‘one of the most physical he’s ever been involved in’ and gave credit to his team for ‘enjoying the moment and getting stuck in’.
Next up for the Navy is their final rescheduled Inter Services game against the RAF on December 6th, as our service men hunt to become back-to-back Inter Service Champions.
Navy U23s: A Einchcomb, B Rees, C Davis; T Horne, C Kerr; A Duffield, A Watson (C), AJ Hussell (VC); M Criddle, G Prentice, F Elliott, J Hoffman (VC), H Johnson, J Davis, A Goodwin.
Replacements: C Goldsmith, A Brittle, J Turnham, J Donaldson, T Oram, H Mayes, W Findlay. H Saunders.
Words by Archie Carter-HumphriesImages by Cinnabar Studios