Admirable Victory - Mariners Prevail against Torbay Sharks

27 March 2024

19:00 @ Teignmouth RFC

Mariners- RN Vets


Torbay Sharks

On the back of 2 days training in the excellent facilities at HMS RALEIGH, the Royal Navy Mariners turned out at Keyham Rugby Ground, HMNB Devonport, on a very wet night to play a Torbay Sharks side noteworthy for its youthfulness, especially on the wings. A last minute change of venue, due to Teignmouth RFC being flooded, saw some of the older Sharks abstain from the 4G surface.

As the penultimate fixture before facing the RAF Vultures in the Inter-Service Championship at DSRFC on 19 April, the Mariners had set about refining their systems and processes in camp. Historically going into the match as underdogs, and with only one win against Torbay in recent memory, the Servicemen knew they would also have to front-up physically to what are consistently dynamic and aggressive opponents; just the test that is required ahead of meeting the other Services, and the Sharks did not disappoint.

After some early bruising encounters in utterly torrential rain, both sides knew they had a game on their hands. It took nearly 15 minutes for the deadlock, which had been centred around halfway, to be broken. A penalty to the Navy gave them their first opportunity, with Parsons kicking to touch about 10 metres out from the Shark’s line; a well worked line-out to the back saw Priddey (playing at 7 but throwing in) collect his own throw via Hillman (No.8) to drive over near the posts. Saberton comfortably sealed the extras.

It didn’t take long for the Shark’s to bite back. Some lack-lustre tackling by the Navy, with none of it low enough, saw several half-breaks make easy yards with Torbay bundling over to make the score 7 apiece. The second quarter saw the Mariners stick to their guns despite the awful weather, with some slick handling. Cox, playing at scrumhalf, was the first to capitalise after some good work by the forwards went wide for him to run over unopposed; 12 - 7. It was shortly after this that Cox was penalised and saw yellow for a 10 minute rest. Despite this, the Navy held firm and produced some free-flowing passing; and on the back of a 30 yard clean-break by captain, Lloyd John, the Navy were held up short on 5m. But sustained pressure led to Priddey burrowing his way over under the posts again! Half-Time; Navy Mariners 19 – 7 Torbay Sharks.

With the Navy having finished the first half in ascendency, it was time for the Sharks to settle and play to their strengths up front, with a quick score straight after the break. Both sides then traded tries with Priddey, having a whale of a time, getting his second to make it a tight third quarter as the score represented the closeness of the game; it remained 24 - 21 to the Navy right up to the final minutes of the game. Two quick scores in the 79th and 80th minutes sealed the result; Williams working nicely off his wing to find space followed by (yes, you’ve guessed it) Priddey to get his fourth! Several 80 minute performances were noteworthy; Blackburn at prop was immovable, John in the back row, and captain, led by example. And Cox at scrumhalf was outstanding, rightfully being awarded PoTM despite his card.

Final score Navy Mariners 36 – 21 Torbay Sharks. This was a very solid performance by the Mariners, from the set-piece to the shape, lines and good decision making in the backs. The coaches will be pleased that what they have been trying to achieve in training is now sticking, and with it the team brought physicality and desire to win. They will need this to beat the other Services in the coming weeks.

The Mariner’s last warm-up fixture before the Inter Service fixture against the RAF is at Fraser Rd versus Havant, Fri 5 Apr, KO 1930.

Mariners: P Manning, ⁠P Price, ⁠T Blackburn; ⁠P Kewn, ⁠A Ainscough; ⁠L John (C), ⁠B Priddey, ⁠S Hillman; ⁠R Cox, J Parsons, C Campbell, D Waryck, ⁠A Hunt, V Valender, P Saberton.

Replacements: C Otway, ⁠I Scovell, ⁠M Thurston, D Price, E Johnson, J Elliott, D Fraser, ⁠D Williams.

Words by A Riley

Images by C Sanders