Vultures Fall Fowl of Mariners

24 March 2023

19:00 @ Devonport Services RFC

Mariners- RN Vets


RAF Vultures

The Mariners and Vultures came together the night before the Brickfields double header. The opening match of the Veterans’ Rugby Union Inter Service series ended in jubilation for the Royal Navy as they racked up a half century against the Royal Air Force at Devonport Services.

The Navy dominated the early exchanges with Saberton running into the line to create a player advantage. The attacking threat of Naulago was immediately evident as he deftly offloading while riding a huge hit. Parsons was in support to score. Cadywould failed to convert. His only slip up on a night where his influence would be key to Navy success.

The RAF were awarded a penalty kick for crossing in midfield, successfully taken with 15 minutes played; the innocent bystander would think this was destined to be a close game…

Tries followed for Veresa, Naulago, Hunt and James. The first half ended with the Mariners leading by an imposing 31 – 3. The tries were both creative and well executed with the set piece and the flare of the backs allowing the players to attack from deep and with confidence.

There will have been two different toned team talks in the changing rooms with the Mariners asking for much of the same of their players and the Vultures asking for a lot more. The Navy continued the second half as they ended the first, scoring two tries in quick succession firstly from Cadywould who ripped the ball from an unsuspecting RAF forward and a clever kick ahead from Kent that ended up with Followell.

The crowd then had time to draw breath as a relatively unspectacular period followed which would have come as a tonic for the RAF. Normal business resumed when Saberton seized on a speculative kick. The Mariners showed cohesion and a togetherness as the ball passed through many pairs of hands for Veresa to score his second to bring up the half century.

The Mariners’ coaches emptied the bench and the RAF scored. The aviators dominated the sailors’ pack narrowing the defence after multiple close-range phases. Space out wide gave them the chance they desperately needed.

The final score went to Veresa after a huge defensive set that stopped the RAF leaving their 10m. Replacement back row Hart provided the inside ball to Waryck, Saberton stepped in at first receiver and the ball was quickly spread wide to Veresa for a simple run in.

Player coach Olly James said, “We were excellent on Friday; it’s been getting better and better for weeks and finally all the pieces lined up allowing us to display an entertaining brand of rugby against the RAF.

The influx of new players is really driving the environment now, they are grabbing hold of it and that made the week at Raleigh go smoothly as they are making it more competitive. The whole squad is driving towards becoming Inter Service Champions, part one is done. We will continue to work hard on our systems and plan to execute against Avon and Somerset Police in 4 weeks and more importantly against the Army on 12th May.”

Saberton added, "That performance is something we owed to ourselves, the coaches and every individual in the squad. We knew that if we clicked we would be too much for the RAF.

Taking nothing away from them, they were a very good physical team who were well drilled. The speed of our ruck, I feel was one of main factors for such a dominant performance. Once our forwards made the hard yards and sucked in their defence our backline, which had talent and pace everywhere, finished them off.

Obviously we know going forward to face the army they will be a different beast to try and overcome. Even with the score line how it was we still feel we could have had a few more scores and tightened up a few areas we would of had the complete performance."

The Mariners had belief coming into the game but winning by 57 points to 8 will have dented the RAF’s spirit and put the Army on high alert. The next Inter Service fixture is Army v RAF in Gloucester. The Mariners play the Army Masters at Rosslyn Park.

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin

Images by Cat Goryn and Callum Sanders