Blackpool Rocks to Mariners Beat

13 March 2024

14:30 @ Fylde RFC

Mariners- RN Vets


HM Prison Service

The Mariners travelled from the south of the country to play His Majesty’s Prison Service at Fylde RFC on a damp and dreary Wednesday in the middle of March. Blackpool is renowned for its Pleasure Beach and Tower, for the Mariners it was a pleasure to be invited to Lancashire to play.

The Prison Service drew players from their establishments in the north. They are expanding their player database and inviting new players and show casing what they are about, unfortunately like many clubs they have had to rebuild due to the pandemic.

With an early KO, the teams gathered and prepared, the drizzle was falling, the players were hoping for no more heavy rain as the pitch was soft but in great condition. With a full team of officials supplied by the Manchester Referees Society the stage was set, the crowd was buzzing, the whistle blew. Game on!

Energetic from the start, the Mariners set a high tempo with HMPS matching this fast start. Both teams were comfortable with ball in hand. Yes, the ball at times slipped from hand but both teams played in an open style, and it was on the 9-minute mark that Jimmy Elliot at 10 made a length of the field break to score under the posts with Saberton converting, 0 - 7. From the restart the Mariners attacked, picking off solo defenders and getting on the outside. From another Saberton break, Waryck in close support dived under the posts, conversion good, 0 - 14.

Points on the board allowed the Mariners to settle into the game. They defended well and even though HMPS had a sustained 5 minutes of pressure in the Mariners 22, they were unable to break through. Holding fast and turning the tables, it was Cox who was on the end of another great team break to score out wide, 0 - 19. Just before HT Kubara, broke down the wing surrounded by support. Saberton was the closest and he scored under the posts converting his own try 0 – 26 at HT.

The second half started as well as the first, HMPS got more physical and frustrated the Mariners, who responded with some great defence. Leading the tackle count was Carr, who had moved from the front row to back row giving him the freedom to play. On a soft pitch and in damp conditions it was surprising that set pieces were few and far between which is a credit to all players involved. The ability to play rugby with some islander-induced flare gave Cox on the 68 min to score his second. Using a rush defence, HMPS were caught out by a tasty little chip over the top and he dotted the ball down for Saberton to convert 0 - 33.

Both Teams emptied their benches. This kept the tempo of the game high, but the conditions and the soft pitch started to take it’s toll on some of the [older] players. Heavy legs gave HMPS the slightest of chances which they exploited out wide to score in the corner 5 - 33. With the game ending, it was the Mariners who had the last word. From a HMPS exit error, the ball was played quickly which gave Williams free space to score 5 - 40 FT.

This was a great game to watch with both teams giving their all. Effort and commitment were demonstrated throughout. It was a worthwhile experience and fantastic for an RN representative side to be seen playing in different part of the country.

Huge thanks to HMPS for the match and Fylde RFC for hosting.

The Mariners next game is against Torbay Sharks at Teignmouth RFC, TQ14 9DQ, on Wednesday 27 March, KO 1900.

Mariners: C Carr, E Gaught, K Norris: A Bodel, P Kewn; L John (C), S Hillman, P Manning; R Cox, J Elliott, D Waryck, J Parsons, M Southern, C Campbell, P Saberton.

Replacements: A John, P Erne, C Otway, P Price, D Price, A Kabara, D Williams.

Words by G Pallet; Images by Cinnabar Studios.

Words by Guy Pallet

Images by Cinnabar Studios