2016 Season’s Round 1 of the Navy Cup Begins with a Deluge of Points

32

BRNC Dartmouth

22

HMS Heron

The 2016 Navy Cup tournament kicked off across the corners of the land, from Scotland to the West of England to Hampshire. The points were in abundance as was the rain during the bruising encounter between HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH (QNLZ) and HMNB Clyde. The match between BRNC and HMS Heron was no less abrasive but certainly closer and finally the match between HMS Collingwood (CWD) against HMS WESTMINSTER (WSTR), which was more white wash than wash out. Unfortunately two matches resulted in byes however all the teams moved onto the next round of either the Cup or the Plate regardless.

Up north, QNLZ, having played Clyde the previous week in a close game, losing by only 6 points, were relatively confident they had the strength and depth to take the game to Clyde. As their rugby pitch was missing a set of posts, the game was held at the attractive Fife Southern RFC ground to the benefit of all.

In the loose the experienced Clyde backrow were quicker to the breakdown and were able to jackal turnover ball and unleash a strong set of backs. Ultimately the flow of the game was a reflection of who had the ball and Clyde's strength at the breakdown meant they dominated the possession stats for much of the fixture. With a final score of 0-54 QNLZ can feel hard done by given their work rate; for the Clyde team they can feel satisfied that they didn’t let up, outplaying the opposition for the full 80 minutes.

From a Northern Region Rugby perspective this looks to be a strong year and based on the talent on show, it could be a very different pair of hands on the Inverdale Cup.

To the south, Collingwood with home advantage took on the T23 team. Conceding before the match was played due a lack of players, the WSTR team still wanted to lock horns against the training establishment but it proved to be too much of a task as CWD strolled to a win after an avalanche of points saw them win 70 – 5. Not to be disheartened WSTR (with their CWD ringers) held their shape and showed strong resolve but were ultimately outdone by the more clinical and rugby savvy CWD team. WSTR can now look forward to playing HMS Sultan in the next round of the Navy Shield.

Meeting for their first fixtures of the season both BRNC and HMS Heron had little time to ensure their processes were in place. BRNC started the stronger with an early penalty but missed two try scoring opportunities out wide during the initial encounters. Finally crossing the line, the Cadets were 10-0 up inciting Heron to dominate their smaller opponents by using their physical advantage to batter their way to a first try. Unhinged by the increased physicality, the BRNC game plan went astray allowing Heron to set up camp in the red zone. Ill-discipline cost the BRNC team a player as a flurry of penalties built up with Heron using the man advantage to take the lead with a converted try making the scores 12-10 at half time.

With the wind behind them BRNC made a flying start to the second half to quickly regain the lead with some clever footballing skills. Heron answered swiftly to level the scores at 17-17. BRNC kept calm and stuck to their patterns adding a penalty and a try to take the score to 25-17 with 20 minutes to go.

Capitalizing on further ill-discipline, Heron narrowed the gap with an unconverted try to make it 25-22. BRNC had the final word with a further converted try suggesting, following a year-long hiatus, the Cadets could again be contenders for the Cup.

A mixed bag of results, from the close match in the west, to the two landslide victories at the poles leaves the rugby spectator wondering who will lift the cup. As several teams enter the mix at the next round by dint of a bye the interest levels will exponentially grow as the likes of HMS Seahawk and 45 Cdo take the field. One thing is for certain (apologies for the cliché) it is all very much to play for!

Article by J Campbell-Baldwin.
Images by RNRU © Mark Deller
Crown Copyright © Craig Keating and © Keith Woodland