Archers Pull the Strings against the RN u23s




Cardiff Metropolitan University

Good arrows from Ben Rees.
The scrum held its own against an adept Met pack.
Time to take stock as captain Dom Cleverly delivers his on field brief.

The Royal Navy u23s were delighted to be back in Wales again, playing a match against a tough team and regular opponent.  If bookies were involved and based on previous encounters this match, on form, was always going to be a close affair. Arriving with a larger than normal squad gave the coaches an opportunity to run out more combinations and give everyone a fair crack of the whip. Cardiff Met have a staggering 400 men registered to play so their strength in depth is considerable.

The RN started cold with Cardiff Met scoring from their first attack having quickly established continuity and go-forward. An inevitable tug-of-war attrition phase followed with neither team being able to change pressure into points.

The referee was clear with what he wanted to be shown at the breakdown; the u23 ‘jackalers’ didn’t do this, giving away penalties at the breakdown resulting in them being pinned down in their own half, only a monumental defensive set from the team but particularly Lewis Clayton managed to keep the Archers out.

Managing, finally, to get some well-deserved field position, the u23s dominated the gain line; after several tight phases of play, the ball was shipped wide to Eli Steinburg who went over in the corner.

A mistake from the restart saw the RN under immediate pressure, defending waves of Met attackers, the defence held firm but again the penalties started to be leaked. The referee began to tentatively reach for a team yellow card but fortunately held back.

With only a penalty given Cardiff Met took a shot at goal and walked away with an easy 3. By now the Met forwards were at gas mark 5, forcing the RN constantly onto the back foot. After several phases of Met attack on the RN line, and it was coming, Steinberg was sent to the bin for a culmination of team offences.

RN resolutely saw out the half, defending their line. A much-needed reset and encouraging words and direction from the coaches was required if the team was going to reverse its fortunes.

From the restart Met seized the initiative with a well worked try; the u23s replied with one of their own with Jordan O’Neil dotting down.

Both teams started to ring the changes, so as expected there was a loss of shape. The RN as they tried to re-establish combinations, immediately came under pressure again and added to their penalty count. The Archers were rewarded for their adventurism scoring a further 2 tries.

The RN played their part in an entertaining game, however their discipline let them down and prevented them getting a tangible hand hold on the game.

U23s Head Coach, Andy Vance said after getting feedback from his TSG, “It was a tough day at the office, partly due to the opposition but also largely down to us and our patience or lack of. Our discipline cost us a lot of possession and time with the ball in hand and ensured that our D was tested thoroughly for long periods. At the same time, we probably kicked the ball away when we were in areas to run and express ourselves. Overall, this game has identified some key work-ons which we can focus on before the next game against Cornwall U21s, the current County Champions. This will, once again, highlight aspects to improve as we move closer to Exeter Chiefs and Inter Services.”

The u23s next match is against Cornwall U21's at Hayle RFC on Sunday 23 October; KO 1400.

RNRU vs Cardiff Met: Dom Cleverley (C), Ben Rees, Harry Wright; Brodie Patterson, Charlie Kerr; Charlie Davis, Lewis Clayton, Jack Mills (VC); Bailey Angliss, Eli Steinburg; Charlie Penrose-Toms, Liam Rowsell, Ash Goodwin, Freddy Elliot, Freddy Marsden.

Jack Wright, Reece Vincent, James Wales, Oscar Sanders-Mortimer, Robbie Hawkshaw, Jordan O’Neil, Jay Gallagher, Yiannis Durrant, Cam Cumming, Chris Postle, Lewis Warren, Jack Davis.

Words by O Salmon
Images by Navy Rugby/ Rob Govier