Navy U23s Put on a Show but Havant Emerges Victorious in Tight Contest




Havant RFC

A moment for reflection.
Maitland Criddle with the Navy's first try.
Somewhere under there lies Johnny Evans.
Will Scott was abrasive in attack.
Chris Warner's young charges were undaunted by Havant at the breakdown.
Fraser Road's own North/ Folau moment.
Lots and lots to be pleased about.

A poignant minute’s silence for SET Steffan Rees preceded the U23s kick off against Havant Select XV, in a show of solidarity to his friends and family through this tough time.

It was a tough game for the Navy u23s before it had even begun! With many key players flying off to a late invitation, one-off fixture in Canada, the coaching staff had to call in several favours to get a squad up and running. They managed to pull it altogether and although they entered the game with a limited amount of preparation, there was certainly no lack of grit, determination, and spirit. You’d expect no less from the Royal Navy’s up and comers.

It was a seemingly slow start to the game, both teams testing the waters putting the ball through the hands, and although Havant appeared more drilled and clinical in their attack, it was the Navy who struck first. Charlie Ransom carried hard putting Maitland Criddle into a one-on-one situation, to score at the end of the first quarter, 0 - 5 Navy u23s.

It wasn’t long however, before Havant got straight back into the game. After a dominant scrum, Havant were able to create space in the midfield exacerbated by a miss-tackle, giving the outside centre the opportunity to run it over the line, 5 - 5.

The game reached a stale mate for the next 10 or so minutes, due to both teams’ hard work in defence, shutting down attacking opportunities when they looked like kicking on; neither team was able to string the phases together.

It was only a matter of time until one of the sets of forwards got the upper hand, and unfortunately for the Navy u23s, with 5 minutes of the first half remaining, Havant were able to break the deadlock taking advantage of a stretched defence in open play. Havant dotted the ball down in the left-hand corner, scoring late into the first half. The momentum was starting to shift in Havant’s favour, 10 - 5 Havant.

The game appeared ready to go into half time with both teams, however a quick turn of pace from Havant put them straight back into scoring contention. With a three man overlap, Havant seemed certain to stretch their lead going into the second half, with the unopposed left wing dropping the ball over the line.

It didn’t take as long as the first half to get scores on the board, as Havant came out firing, maintaining the momentum of the first half. After 10 minutes of Havant pressure which kept the Navy u23s pinned in their own half, it was inevitable the dam was going to burst. Using their weight and size advantage effectively, Havant were able to get over the line in the 53rd minute. And finally, with some success from the tee, Havant took their lead out to 17 - 5.

Navy u23s, weren’t going down without a fight however, and after smashing it up the middle of the park, and a pick and go from Charlie Davis, Navy u23s were able to get the try under the posts. With the bonus of a successful conversion from Dan Palmer, Navy u23s were straight back in it, once again trailing by 5.

After another score a piece, with Havant running it out wide in the 66th minute, and Navy (Johnny Evans) opting for the pick and go approach in the 72nd, the score was 24 - 19 going into the final five minutes of the game. The tide seemed to be turning for Navy u23s. But after a few fumbled opportunities, and a stray lineout, Havant were able to close-down the Navy defence and force the

penalty with the clock in the red. One last kick into touch from the penalty and the ref blew his whistle to end the game in Havant’s favour.

An unfortunate result to what had been such a tight, back, and forth 80 minutes. The game could have gone either way, with moments where, if either team could have strung a few extra phases together, it would have been a very different score line.

However, with the difficulties facing squad selection and preparation, the Navy u23s can walk away with their heads held high, pushing the game right to the death, against a well-gelled Havant Select XV.

Navy u23s Coach Chris Warner had this to say about the game, “I was incredibly pleased with how the lads came together considering the lack of prep. The scrum was a major positive along with physicality of the side fronting up against a big well drilled side. The whole bench was used and there was no drop off in performance. It’s given the coaches much to ponder.”

The Navy u23s captain, Charlie Kerr, echoed these words, saying, “The game today was a good show of the potential we have as a squad. After only a few hours of meeting and playing together we’ve been able to put on a good show against a well drilled Havant side. For the first run out of the season it shows us in good light for the upcoming fixtures.”

A strong performance from the Navy u23s lads have put them in good spirits heading into their next fixture. They know there’s work to do, but with more preparation, it’s bound to be a blinder of a game as the travel up to Bristol on September 20th, to play Super BUCS rugby team, Bristol University, as they hunt for their first win of the season.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Steff.

Navy Rugby U23s: Alex Einchcomb, Ben Rees, Charlie Davis; Charlie Kerr (C), Dan McAdams; Will Scott, Josh Morrison, Cian Gold-Smith: Maitland Criddle, Wallace Findley (C), Lewis Warren, Dan Palmer, Lewis Roxby, Charlie Ransom, Golwyn Jenkins.

Replacements: Holloway, Postle, Evans, Callard, Horne, Thomas, Brittle, Hawkshaw, Ryder.

Words by Archie Carter-Humphries/ Images by Mark Deller and Callum Sanders.