Chiefs Show Navy Respect with Strong Selection

01 March 2023

19:30 @ Sandy Park

Senior Men XV


Exeter Chiefs

If your winning streak absolutely has to come to a halt, there might be a few things that would make it easier to accept. 1. Play against the former European and Premiership Champions on their home ground; 2. Litter the oppositon's strong squad with lots of big game experience and a smattering of international caps. 3. Put on a display which would allow you to hold your heads very high at the end.

And that’s exactly what the RN Senior Men’s team did last night in front of a 2000 strong crowd at the always immaculate Sandy Park, home of the Exeter Chiefs. The Premiership side showed the RN great respect by mixing in some established stars with some up and coming youngsters. In the past their squad would have been all Academy lads and some guest players from local clubs but the inclusion of established stars like Ollie Devoto, Facundo Cordero, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Marcus Street and Rus Tuima showed they were not taking the game lightly.

The wish of the RN coaching team was for their charges to ‘stay in the fight’ when they saw the Chiefs squad, and boy did they do that in spades. Although the home side got on the scoreboard early with the giant frame of Iosefa-Scott going over after the RN spilled the ball in midfield, the RN hit back almost immediately to score what would be the first of four catch and drive related scores on the night.

Considering the line out in the previous week’s game against Plymouth Albion was the only thing that didn’t go well the transformation was spectacular. Not only did the throwing of both Rhys Williams and Jack Wright hit their jumpers at the top of their jumps, the packs ability to drive back the huge Exeter forwards almost at will bodes very well for the fixtures ahead. Although he remained professional throughout, it's a certainty that forwards coach John Court will have been beaming on the inside.

With Rhys Williams try converted by Jordan Gott the RN held a 5 - 7 lead until the 20th minute. At that point the RN got a yellow card for a deliberate knock on in their own 22 and the Chiefs showed a ruthless streak to score tries through the emerging star that is Immanuel Feyi-Waboso on the left wing, England under 20’s star Rus Tuima and the ankle breaking side stepping of Argentinian International XV player Facundo Cordero. These tries somewhat put the RN efforts into the shade but nonetheless they went into the halftime break trailing 24 - 7.

The second half started in a similar vein to how the first one ended. The Chiefs scored 3 quick tries, the first of which was a 60m interception to lead 43-7 at the hour mark, however that was the end of the scoring for the home side. At this point it would have been easy for the RN teams heads to drop, but nothing could be further from the truth. They fought their way up field and following a kick to the corner and another huge catch and drive from just inside the 22 the referee awarded the Navy a penalty try and a yellow card to Tuima. This galvanised the RN team who had begun to empty the bench and they enjoyed the majority of possession and territory for the remainder of the match. The carrying and ruck speed of his forwards allowed Jerome Rudder in particular room to show off his own side stepping skills and defender beating runs. The result of disciplined ball retention, aggressive clear outs and patient build up forced the Chiefs into giving away more penalties and the Navy took full advantage. Two more catch and drives in the final 10 minutes, both scored by replacement hooker Wright and both converted by Gott made the final score 43-28.

Arty Shaw, Senior Men;s XV ADoR said, 'I could not be prouder, the energy showed by the lads was magnificent, the aggressive but controlled physicality was a joy to watch and a lot of the boys have put their marker down for selection’

Navy centre Jordan Gott, who had another great game, on facing England International Ollie Devoto, ‘It's not often we play against players like that, so it was an interesting learning experience. It shows the higher level but I think we shut him down fairly well.’

A typically modest assessment from the centre, but in truth he and his team were outstanding on the night. The confidence to try things, the heart in defence, the dominating catch and drive and in particular the fitness to compete in what was a high tempo game with the ball in play for long periods was encouraging for those watching and for those following the game on social media. The coaching team now have the enjoyably stressful task of selecting a squad to face the Marine Nationale for the seasons first capped game in 2 weeks’ time. Some will be elated and others disappointed, but on this games' showing whoever makes the final squad will have thoroughly deserved it.


Words by P Clark

Images by NAVYFit/ Lee Crabb and Jarrad Hulm