Seven Try Sizzler as Royal Navy Start on Front Foot


RN Senior XV


Cambridge University

Skipper and try scorer, Ben Priddey, led a much changed side in the first 2016 Inter Service preparation match
Jon Humphrey settled nerves with an early penalty before he added four conversions and helped the Royal Navy control the first half
Matt Tichias scored the first and last try of the first half. His second (shown) a fine solo effort
Greg Loydall replaced Humphrey at half time and was soon on the score sheet with this try under the posts
Eldon Myers celebrated his return to the Senior XV shirt with a well taken long range try
It wasn’t all about the attack and the Navy’s back five, including John Lamsin and Jarrard Hayler put a huge amount of work in to their defence

The Royal Navy started their 2016 Inter Service preparations in the best way possible with a seven try victory away at Cambridge University; 50-26.  With Matt Tichias scoring the first and Lewis Cooper grabbing the seventh it epitomised the blend of experience and youth that Ben Priddey led out in this opening game.  Cambridge University contributed fully to an enjoyable and exciting match with four tries of their own but the Royal Navy were never under scoreboard pressure despite including their now traditional period of playing with a man in the sin bin!

An early Jon Humphrey penalty settled any nerves that the Royal Navy might have had in this first Inter Service preparation match.  With both sides looking to move the ball at every opportunity it quickly became evident that the game was going to provide a good examination as to how quickly this new look Navy side would come together.   In the end though it was the established centre partnership of Sam Davies and Matt Tichias who created the opening score.  Sam Davies ran his customary hard line to create the initial opening before linking with Tichias to give him the easy run in for the try.  Jon Humphrey added the conversion and the Royal Navy had extended their lead to ten points.

A Cambridge University short range try seemed to get the home side back in to the match at 10-7 but merely prompted the Navy pack to up their game and take the match away from the Light Blues by half time.  With John Lamsin and Edd Pascoe ensuring a good supply of lineout ball and the backrow trio of Jarrard Hayler, Ben Fox and Lewis Cooper beginning to win the breakdown battle, the pack was establishing a degree of control that was to determine the game.  First skipper Ben Priddey drove over to re-establish the two score lead before Edd Pascoe added another to further extend their advantage.  With Jon Humphrey landing both conversions the Royal Navy approached half time in good shape.

By the time the half time whistle had sounded, they had further extended their lead when Matt Tichias added his second score of the night with an individual try.  A dominant tackle and good technique over the ball was rewarded with turnover possession and an unstructured defence in front of him.  Showing good pace, he was able to exploit a gap and beat the chasing defence for the try, leaving Humphrey with an easy conversion.

Half time saw wholesale changes to the Royal Navy side but what proved to be particularly impressive was that this did not disrupt the structure or flow of the game.  In the first half, half-backs Cory Moore and Jon Humphrey had been the controlling force of the match, exploiting space through some sound game management.  After the break there was a seamless transition and this role was taken on by Gareth John Rees and Greg Loydall. The changes were not all about youth and though Henry Hughes, James Griggs, Gareth Rees John, Rhys Dimmock-Williams, Ben Watson and Ollie Mason all joined Harrison Marsh, Chris Warner and Lewis Cooper in making their Senior XV debuts, the arrival at half time of Keith Lister from the Mariners ensured that both Royal Navy Inter Service winning sides had representation on the pitch 

Cambridge University knew that had to start the second half well, if they were to get back in to the match.  In some ways they achieved their aim with an early push over try followed by a well taken try, when they exploited some space down the Navy’s blindside flank.  However, their two scores were separated by a well taken Greg Loydall try, which he also converted, to ensure that the Royal Navy remained comfortably in front at 38-21.  During this period they had overcome the loss of Seta Raumakita to a Yellow Card, for obstruction, and it was his later departure that was to bring Eldon Myers back in to the game.

Myers made no mistake in making an impact at the second time of asking with a try followed by an assist.  The try was made by Loydall who took the ball to the tackle line before floating a well timed pass just out of reach of the Cambridge University defence.  The pass gave Myers time and space and there was no stopping him as he stretched his legs for the Royal Navy’s sixth try.  He also contributed to their seventh shortly afterwards.  Another break though this time he was unable to outstrip the defence but good technique at the tackle allowed the ball to be recycled through Loydall and young Number 8, Lewis Cooper, was on hand to score a well deserved try.  Having been unable to convert Myers’ try, Loydall was back on target to bring up the fifty points the Royal Navy.

A consolation try for Cambridge University was the final score of the match but in no way detracted from a good opening performance by the Royal Navy team and backed up the fifty-three points that the Women had scored in their victory last week.  With the Mariners due their first outing on Wednesday, 10 Feb, at the Rectory, the pressure is on for them to maintain the momentum.  For the Senior XV they have two weeks to reflect on their opening performance before they travel to Esher for the second game in their preparations as they head towards the capped games against Marine Nationale in Toulon, a home encounter with the Royal Air Force, at USSG Portsmouth and of course the season finale, the Army Navy match, where it looks as if there will be another sell out crowd at Twickenham.

Royal Navy Starting XV v Cambridge University:
Harrison Marsh, Ben Priddey * (Capt), Chris Warner, Edd Pascoe *, John Lamsin *, Ben Fox *, Jarrard Hayler *, Lewis Cooper, Cory Moore, Jon Humphrey *, Eldon Myers *, Matt Tichias *, Sam Davies *, Seta Raumakita *, Tom Davies *

Replacements: James Griggs for Sam Davies, Henry Hughes for Eldon Myers, Harry Collins * for Ben Priddey, Gareth John Rees for Cory Moore, Joe Burton for Chris Warner, Greg Loydall for Jon Humphrey, Ben Watson for Rhys Dimmock-Williams, Keith Lister for Harrison Marsh, Ollie Mason for Edd Pascoe, Eldon Myers for Seta Raumakita
* Denotes capped player
Points: Humphrey (1Pk, 4C), Tichias (2T), Priddey (T), Pascoe (T) , Loydall (T, 2C) , Myers(T) , Cooper (T)

Next Match 17 February 2016:
Esher RFC v Royal Navy, Molesey Road, Esher KO 19:15

Images by Alligin Photography / © John Walton