U23s Put the Archers to the Sword

01 October 2023

15:00 @ Cardiff Metropolitan University

U23 XV


Cardiff Metropolitan University

A large crowd of students gathered at 'Fortress' Cyncoed in Cardiff this weekend to watch their team, the 'Archers' challenge the Navy u23s as they continue to fight for their first big win of the season. The Super BUCS rugby university, Cardiff Met, regularly field a tough team this time featuring a mixed 3s and 4s team.

Unlike previous weeks, the Navy hit the ground running, getting an early scrum penalty; the influence of fowards coach Warner would continue to shine throughout as the Navy set piece stood up well to the students. The Navy U23s wanted to prove a point and were reluctant to kick at goal throughout the day. They made the right choice however, as the phases built from the penalty allowed Navy Number 8, Vice Captain AJ Hussell, to break the line and step the defender to get a try under the posts in only the 4th minute, converted by Wallace.

Cardiff Met weren’t going to stay cowed, and after retaining the ball from the kick off, they were deep in the red zone putting pressure on Navy U23s, looking for some points of their own. It wasn’t long before the duress got too much, and Cardiff drove over the line in the 7th minute to get their first score on the board.

Cardiff maintained the momentum they’d found, and started forcing penalties with some top class jackaling at the rucks. They kept tightening the noose until finally the Navy were caught in no-man's land, as a quick tap from the penalty lead to another try for Met in the 17th minute. 12-7 Cardiff Met.

Navy U23s needed to find a way to arrest the momentum, and a 50 - 22 from fullback Davis did the trick. Some fast hands from the back of the lineout, put Davis in space on the opposite side of the pitch, and there was only one way it was going to go, as he dotted the ball down in the corner for the try. Back to an even 12 all.

There were 10 minutes left, and Navy U23s were keen to take an advantage into the second half. They thought they’d found it after a scrum, when scrum half Attwood popped the ball to Hussell, who created space and ran half the length of the pitch to score on the right. However Cardiff Met hadn’t shown all their cards, when they made a blindside break from the line out, with a minute of the half remaining, keeping the scores level: 17 - 17.

The second half got underway, and much like the first Navy U23s came out all guns blazing, winning a lineout deep in the Cardiff Met half. The Navy forwards set up a rolling maul from the line out, allowing hooker Ben Rees to break off and dive at the try line, getting the first points of half in only the 43rd minute.

This time Navy U23s used the phases well, retaining the ball,  without giving Met an inch. A touch of individual brilliance from centre Jamin Hoffman, with a dummy, a show and a go, opened up space for him to score, and Navy U23s started to pull away: 17 - 29.

Cardiff Met tried to close the gap with a score of their own after a successful scrum with twenty left to play, bringing them within 5 points, but they couldn’t hold on for long as the Navy began to stretch their defence. Another two tries for the U23s from Ben Rees and Hussell, who earned himself a hatrick (and a fine), opened the gap once again. Cardiff Met were getting frustrated, giving away multiple penalties, and a Cardiff Met yellow card for too many infringements, was the final nail in the coffin.

Cardiff Met 24 - 41 Royal Navy u23s.

After a patchy start to the season, Navy U23s finally got the all-important first win, and Captain Watson had this to say after the match, “We had new players who slotted in nicely today, and some adjustments to our attacking play meant we improved massively from Bristol, it’s a great first win of the season.”

Navy U23s next travel to Ivybridge RFC, Wednesday 11th October, KO 1930.

Navy U23s: A Einchcomb, B Rees, C Davies; C Kerr, A Watson (c); A Duffield, J Donaldson, AJ Hussell (vc); C Attwood, S Griffiths, B Callard, J Hoffman, W Findley, J Ryder, J Davis

Replacements: S Brittle, C Postle, L Clayton, T Oram, H Johnson, L Warren, H Johnston, M Criddle.

Words by Archie Carter-Humphries

Images by J Campbell-Baldwin