RN U23 9 - 24 Army U23

The Royal Navy U23s played their second and final match of the 2011 Inter Services Championship on Friday night against an Army Academy XV, at the United Services Portsmouth RFC Ground, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth. With the Army having narrowly beaten the RAF, and the Navy losing to their Light blue opponents by a slim margin (10-9) only the week before, the scene was set for a struggle of titanic proportions.

From the whistle, both sides thundered into each other determined to make a dent in their opponent's defence. With the Navy coming under periods of sustained pressure, the Army soon had a first attempt at points on the board after only 7 minutes on the clock but without success, the Army Fly half failing to find his target.

Photo by Paul McCabe

The Army, determined to make an impact in the forward exchanges, attacked the Navy scrum and applied pressure through some strong scrummaging which was resisted solidly by the Navy 8. After a further couple of minutes this pressure told when having been awarded a penalty, the Army took a quick tap and catching the Navy off guard crossed over for a try moving into the lead 0-7 in the process. Following Army indiscipline at the breakdown, the Navy quickly evened the score with a penalty being kicked by Fly Half AB (Aaron) Lewis (HMS Vigilant). With the score now 3 -7, the Army knew they were in for a match and after a long period of determined attacks by both sides, the Army backs ran the ball from their own 10m line and managed to squeeze over in the corner for a try. With this being subsequently converted, the score was now 3 -14 to the Army, but the Navy struck right back with a penalty by Lewis, reducing the deficit to 6 -14.  With a further successful Navy penalty by Lewis, both sides departed the pitch for the half time break with the score at 9-14.

The second half started with a promise of much to play for, and a re-invigorated Navy team took the field determined to redress the balance on the scoreboard.  Taking the game to their opponents, the pressure soon told with the award of two penalties to the Navy in as many minutes.  However, the Navy were unable to turn these penalties into points, and with the Army getting another penalty under their belts the score now lay at 9 -17.

Photo by Paul McCabe

Despite finding themselves down to 14 men for a transgression at the ruck, the Army weathered the last quarter Navy storm as their opponents sought to get some further points under their belts. With only minutes remaining until Full Time, the Army crossed for a try, subsequently converted which took the Final score to 9 - 24.

Following the match, Marine Vakalutukali (40 Cdo RM) was presented with the Brian Weeks Memorial Trophy  as the Royal Navy U23 Player of the season by the Chairman of the Royal Navy Rugby Union, Captain Chris Alcock OBE RN. This trophy is a fitting reward for the young Marine for a series of outstanding displays in an U23 shirt this season.

Although disappointed to lose their crown as Interservices Champions, the Royal Navy U23s have accomplished a significant amount over the last 2 months in what has been a short season. Several players have showed real promise and we look forward to some of the U23s wearing the coveted the Senior XV shirt after Christmas, and indeed against the Army at Twickenham on 28 April. We would like finally like to take this opportunity to thank all those individuals and units that have supported the Royal Navy U23s this season; without whose help the season would have been infinitely more challenging to support.

RN U23 Squad List:

NA (AH)Barnashone (MASF Culdrose), AET K Beasley (824 Sqn), AET A Benton (849 Sqn), Mne J Blackburn (CTCRM), Mne J Brett (ASG Yeovil), Mne K Bridgen (40 Cdo RM), AET R Champion (846 Sqn), AET B Clarke (848 Sqn), AET J Clay (CHF), Mne L Davies (42 Cdo RM), Mne J Foster (40 Cdo RM), Mne M Harrison (RMSoM Portsmouth), ET (ME) M Jones (HMS St Albans), AB M Kali (HMS Dragon), AB Kurusasa (HMS Dragon), MA S Laird (HMS Collingwood), AB A Lewis (HMS Vigilant), Mne W McLaren (CLR), ET (ME) J Parry (HMS Monmouth), Mne J Pearson (42 Cdo RM), ET (WE) Richardson (HMS Kent), MID T Smart (HMS Daring), Mne D Taylor (42 Cdo RM), Mne R Vakalutukali (40 Cdo RM), MA S Winfield (UK Med Gp), NA L Witts (HMS Heron),  AB (D) B Wood (Northern Diving Group)