QNLZ Edge Mariners in High Scoring Thriller

17 January 2024

19:00 @ USSG Portsmouth

Mariners- RN Vets


HMS Queen Elizabeth

Burnaby Road was the location for the RN Mariners first hit out of the season and what a fantastic and thrilling game it turned out to be. The opposition were from HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is now turning into a regular fixture for the Mariners. The carrier's team played a full part in the end to end encounter.

It was almost a contrast of differing styles with the Mariners playing with more emphasis on powerful forward drives and the QNLZ team playing a wider off-loading game, both of which were great to watch for the decent crowd that turned out on a crisp Wednesday evening in Pompey.

The scoring started on the 5 minute mark and would continue with an entertaining regularity for 80 minutes. Not ideal for the two coaching teams heart rates but very entertaining for those watching.

The first score of the night went to QNLZ, a missed tackle in midfield led to a line break from the centre who dotted down close to the posts, the conversion was added for a 0-7 start.

The first score for the Mariners on 15 mins started a theme for them, a hugely powerful scrum pushed its way over the try line from 10m out and this scrum dominance would be something they maintained throughout the game. The scorer was No8 Pete Manning and was followed by a superb conversion from out wide by the skipper Paul Saberton.

Despite the RN power game QNLZ were more than holding their own in the loose and they scored the next two tries in quick succession. The second one by GB rugby league under 23 Brodie Butler who was almost making yards at will and backing that up with some great offloading work. With 25 mins gone the score was RN 7 – 19 QNLZ.

The Mariners then showed they could play the off-loading and phase play game too and scored a fantastic try on the half hour. Steve Mahoney made the initial break and after some excellent phase play he was there to finish the move for a score.

The next try for the RN will live long in the memory, especially for the player involved. Peter ‘Scouse’ Kewn, who often turns out in the front row for his club side but this evening played in the engine room of the second row, scored the most amazing try from well inside his own half. Picking the ball up in one hand he burst through at least 5 would be tacklers, some of which were on the receiving end of a substantial hand-off and galloped his way between the posts having cut in from the left wing. The 60 plus metre effort brought the crowd to their feet and the broadest of smiles from Scouse. A fantastic way to bring the first half to a close marred only slightly by the missed conversion from right in front of the posts.

HT Mariners 17 – 19 QNLZ

After a few choice words from head coach Chris ‘Sumo’ Thompson at half time, particularly about first up tackling, the Mariners took heed and came out of the blocks fast in the second half. More forward powerplays saw two scores in the first five mins, the first being a huge driving maul from a lineout and the second being a combination of forward offloads. The tries were scored by Heffernan and Waryck respectively with Saberton adding both the extras. It looked like the game had been turned on its head with the score now Mariners 31 – 19 QNLZ.

Slightly against the run of play the Carrier got themselves back in the game, a spilt ball on halfway by the Mariners resulted in the QE winger sprinting down the touchline for their first score of the second period. The Mariners were next to keep the scoreboard operator busy with a powerful run by winger Mahoney coming off his wing to feed Saberton who then powered over and converted his own score.

With what was starting to look like a dominant display from the Mariners you would be forgiven for thinking QNLZ would let their heads drop. However the complete opposite happened, in the next 10 minutes they scored 2 tries by taking a leaf out of the Mariners book and using a mostly forward inspired power game to bring the score back to Mariners 38 – 36 QNLZ.

For a short period the game play became as tight as the scoreline with both teams looking for that bit of skill or luck that would allow them to win the game at the death.

It was the QNLZ that used both to get that winning score, after a mistake at the RN lineout the QNLZ forwards poured through to capture the ball and score the winner.

FT Mariners 38 – 41 QNLZ.

Huge congratulations must go to both teams for putting on an end to end display showing both power and skill to leave the crowd thoroughly entertained. Also a big shout out to Tom Evans-Jones and his team of officials who presided over a great game and who helped make it the spectacle of RN rugby that it was. BZ to all.

Mariners: A Johns, P Erne, P Price; K Heffernan, P Kewn; C Carns, C Hart, P Manning; R Cox, P Saberton (C), D Williams, M Southern, D Waryck, S Mahoney, D Fraser.

Replacements: T Blackburn,K Norrish, S Pearce, D Price, P Flowers, J Pickles.

Words by Paul Clark

Images by Cinnabar Studios