The RAF Hawks redeemed themselves after the Navy Academy beat them 33 - 3 at Newark RFC. Claiming the spoils on this occasion with a 13 - 0 victory, the Hawks' ability to manage the foul weather was key to their success, with strong defensive work helping to hold out the Navy's advances. Penalty count and balls dropped were roughly even but the RAF asserted their dominance in the scrums and at the breakdown. Vice Captain Hope was the standout performer for the Navy with Cador, Hume and Elliott all making good yardage for the Academy. It was the lack of a clinical edge and an accurate final pass that handed the RAF the victory.
The match between the Royal Navy and the RAF Rugby Union Academies was played out in terrible conditions, with heavy rain and biting winds throughout. It was the RAF who started the brighter, scoring the first points of the game at the eighteen minute mark with a training ground back of the lineout move. The Royal Navy struggled to get going in the first half, and despite a few promising breaks, they were unable to make any of them count. The RAF went into the break with the score at 0-10 having won over the referee with better displays of what he wanted to see.
The second half was a scrappy affair with the conditions continuing to play a major part in the game. Both sides put in a lot of hard work, but it was the RAF who were more precise when it mattered, extending their lead with a penalty kick in the sixty-fifth minute. The likes of Manson (retired injured), Rees and Teear-Bourge never really got to show what they are about as it was a forward orientated game. The Royal Navy were unable to get back into the game though Hume and Ray fell agonisingly short. The final score ended Royal Navy 0 - 13 RAF.
The referee Stew Kilby praised both sides for their hard work and discipline in terrible conditions, saying it was the worst conditions he'd refereed in in twenty years. Ultimately, it was the RAF who came out on top, denying the Royal Navy the clean sweep.
Head Coach Loz Salisbury said, "I thought yesterday was the perfect storm, literally and figuratively. The weather didn't allow us to play the style of rugby we like to play. We struggled to read the referee and didn't adjust our game, which continually put us on the back foot. That being said, we had 33 players available, which just shows how quickly the Academy set up has grown since its 'Presidents' days. It was a shame we couldn't finish the season with a double win but it doesn't define our season and I am immensely proud of all of the players and staff who have started the Academy on such a great footing."
The Academy season may be over but a number of players have enhanced their reputations. The TSG is confident of a fuller fixture list next season which will help individuals more effectively bridge the gap between the community and representative games.
Words by J Campbell-Baldwin; Images by Mark Deller.