There were many who though the Friday night's game between the Army U23 and the Royal Navy U23 would have been cancelled as the horrendous weather of the previous days would see many of the weekend's games cancelled. However, the Army RFU home ground at Aldershot looked in excellent condition.

Having seen-off the RAF the week before in a thrilling game in Portsmouth, the Royal Navy hoped tonight's fixture would be the deciding game of the 2012 U23 Inter Service Championship.

The Navy looked in good form from the kick off and soon took the lead with a penalty from skipper ET (WE) (Tom) Davies (HMS Illustrious). The Army always looked dangerous on the attack and only some good defensive play kept them at bay. However, it didn't take long for the Army to take the lead as they scored a try wide out to the right of the posts 5-3.

The Army discipline let them down and Davies returned the lead to the Navy, 5-6.

What became apparent early on was the domination of the scrum by the Navy front row Mne (Josh) Terry (RM Poole), ET(WE) (Lee) Mellor (HMNB Portsmouth) and AB (Chris) Davies (HMS Somerset) who set about destroying the Army front row. The Army however, did counter with some good ‘catch and drive' from the lineout which the Navy struggled to contain on occasions.

The Navy continued to pressure the Army and kept them in their own half for long periods, but there we caught out several times by quick Army counter attacks which were only stopped by either a good Navy defence from wingers of Mne (Mo) Andrews (43 Cdo (FPGRM) and AET (Rob) Conroy-Smith (RNAS Yeovilton) and Fullback AET (Matt) Horton (RNAS Culdrose) or the slippery ball being knocked-on.

The Army found themselves in front of the kicker at a 22m drop-out which gave the Navy another 3 points and extend their lead to 5-9 by half time.

The Navy coaching team made 2 changes at the break to bring on Mne (Josh) Blackburn (DST Leconsfield) for ET(ME) (Sam) Davies (HMS Sultan) and MacDonald on for L/Cpl (John) Barnett (45 Cdo RM).

The Army manage to secure lineout ball close to the Navy line and a good and well managed ‘catch and drive' gave them a second unconverted try. 10-9, (48 mins). However, from the restart the Army gave the Navy an opportunity to regain the lead with another penalty this time from full back Horton 10-12.

The penalties started to go against the Army and the ref eventually had, had enough and reduced them to 14 men for 10 mins. The Navy didn't take the extra man advantage as the Army against the run of play score close in to the posts following some good inter passing play 17-12 (61 mins).

ET (Villiame) Talemasimaiveya (HMS Ocean) replaced ET (ME) (SM) (Dylan) Woods (HMS Torbay) and a quick reshuffle of the pack didn't seem to lessen the Navy's dominance in this area.

A good passage of play from the Navy led to new cap ET(ME) (Josh) Jones (HMS Sultan) provide an excellent cross kick to right wing Conroy-Smith and only an illegal action by the Army stopped his progress towards the line and resulted in the Army being down to 13 men for a few minutes. 

The Navy attacked the Army line from a good scrum with last weeks ‘Man of the Match' ET(WE) (SM) (John) Henty (HMS Collingwood) well supported by the hard working Mne (Scotty) Puleston (30 Cdo IX Gp) was only stopped by a last ditch tackle by the Army wing and fullback.

ET (ME) (Peter) Fowler (HMS Somerset) replaces fellow ship mate Chris Davies in the front row and ET (ME) (Sam) Tyrer (HMS Sultan) replaced starting scrum half ET (ME) (Samuel) (HMS Raleigh) who had been outstanding in every facet of play this evening. However, it was be Tyrer who drew the Navy level from a Navy lineout which was stolen by the Army, but good Navy pressure turned the ball over and Tyrer dived in for an unconverted try, (17-17). 

Despite both team having chances in the final few minutes neither could take the points and so the game trophy was shared and the Navy will now have to wait the outcome of the RAF U23 v Army U23 on the 2 Dec at RAF Halton.    

Following the game RNRU Director of Operations Colonel (Ewen) Murchison DSO MBE presented the tie's to the new capped players and L/Cpl (John) Barnett (45 Cdo RM) was presented with the Brian Weeks Memorial Trophy  as the Royal Navy U23 ‘Player of the Season' by Vice President Commodore (Keith) Beckett RN.

L/Cpl (John) Barnett