FAA Experience Field Conditions against the Marines


Royal Marines


Fleet Air Arm

On a bitterly cold day at Lympstone, those individuals who were brave enough to be on the open field that is the CTCRM pitch were treated to a fantastic game of rugby. The Royal Marines side welcomed their familiar foes from the Fleet Air Arm for an Inverdale Challenge match that did not disappoint.

In an interesting twist both sides played their best rugby when they were playing up the slope and against the wind which just goes to show that having the elements at your back isn’t always a huge advantage.

The RM started the first half with those elements and quickly got into their work, some multi-phase play in the face of some powerful first up tackles resulted in Rory O’Brian going over from the right wing for the first try of the match with only 4 minutes gone. A fantastic touchline conversion from Richard Cadywould saw the RM take a 7-0 lead.

The next 20 minutes saw a fascinating battle of attrition in the midfield areas with the Marines trying to break down the FAA defence as well as using the wind to control a bit of territory with tactical kicking. However, they were unable to get through some ferocious tackling by the men in green who then went on the attack themselves. Some concerted pressure in the RM 22 resulted in the second try down the right wing, scored by Jack Davies. With the difficult conversion missed the score was 7-5.

With the ol' warhorses that are Kye Beasley and Tom Blackburn to the fore, the FAA scrummage was securing some great go forward ball and after some disciplined pick and go action on the RM try line ‘Beaso’ went over for the score. With Jordan Gott slotting the extras the score was RM 7 – 12 FAA on the half hour mark and this is how it remained until halftime.

The RM team started the second half with the wind in their faces, going up the slope and behind on the scoreboard and things got worse after 7 minutes. A great turn over and resulting penalty allowed a kick to the corner by the FAA, a successful catch and drive saw hooker Jack Wright dot down for the try in the corner. The conversion was missed, score: RM 7-17 FAA.

With the sun now shining and the RM lineout functioning well the tide began to turn. After a number of penalties conceded by the FAA, some great ball retention and handling saw Freddy Elliot score in the corner on the hour mark. RM 12-17 FAA.

They were at it again 2 minutes later when a dropped ball in midfield saw Craig Duncan kick through and drop on the ball over the line for the try. It was good to see ‘Duncs’ back on the field after a long period out with injury. The comeback was on! RM 17-17 FAA

He then took the bull by the horns again and with 10 minutes to go he made a 40m break in midfield which ended with a second try of the game for Freddy Elliot, a successful Cadywould conversion saw the RM take a 24-17 lead.

With less than 5 minutes to go on the clock the FAA made their way up the field and after another hugely powerful shove in the scrum they were awarded a penalty try by the referee, an automatic 7 points to bring the teams level at 24-24.

The final whistle went shortly after the score, a thoroughly entertaining game saw the honours even and those neutrals in the crowd, which included Bath and England legend Graham Dawe, probably thought it was a fair result. It will remain to be seen if the same two sides make the final later in the season.

Senior Mens XV ADOR Cdr Arty Shaw picked out the FAA blindside Jack Ray and the RM’s Craig Duncan as his players of the match from each side saying, “Given the conditions the two teams faced, they played some fantastic rugby with huge commitment being shown. Congratulations to both sides for a great game.”

Words by P Clark; Images by Callum Sanders