5 Tries as Royal Navy Senior XV Too Strong for Exeter Braves


RN Senior XV


Exeter Braves

Aaron Wilman was one of a number of forwards who grafted hard in wet conditions.
Edd Pascoe, playing at blindside, was quickly in amongst the action.
Another good controlling display from Gareth Rees at half back and 3 excellent conversions.
Henry Hughes crosses for the Royal Navy’s fourth try.
Strong in attack and defence, Timoci Kava, deserved his try late in the game.
Job well done. 80 minutes of mainly unseen work it was play from John Kirwan and the pack which were the foundations for the win.

After last years single point win, secured in the dying minutes, this well-earned victory for the Royal Navy Senior XV was never in doubt after Ben Chambers put his team ahead with the first of his two tries.  By the break a trademark Ben Priddey score, from a rolling maul, along with Chambers second try and some superb kicking from Gareth Rees had extended the Navy’s lead to a comfortable 21-3.  The second period was more even as the number of replacements meant the Navy, and to a lesser extent the Braves, lost some of their continuity.  Both sides crossed for two tries, but a home team comeback never looked likely.  By the final whistle the Navy had extended their lead to 31-13 and they will travel to Richmond full of confidence having taken another step forward in terms of performance.

The Royal Navy were forced in to a change before kick off with Dan Rutter replacing Nathan Hughes, who was nursing a sore knee.  This brought the number of uncapped players starting to four with another eleven uncapped players used from the replacements bench.  This is a lot of fresh faces in an Inter Service squad although it did not show in the team’s play which on the whole was assured, controlled and cohesive.  The early exchanges were shaded by Exeter Braves who enjoyed the better of the field position and possession as both sides came to terms with a greasy ball in the wet conditions, though the pitch itself was firm.

For the opening fifteen minutes Exeter Braves probed the Navy’s defences and it was clear that the Navy team were having to do a lot of defending.  But their first up tackles proved to be the match of anything that Exeter Braves could manage in attack which must have been pleasing for the coaches looking on from the side.  So, it was disappointing that a loss of concentration gifted the Braves a simple penalty in front of the posts, which they kicked, to open the scoring and take a 3-0 lead.

Conceding the penalty was clearly the jolt the Royal Navy needed as from the restart they gradually began to assert themselves and keep control of the ball.  With the pack working hard at producing quick possession at the tackle and ruck, scrum half Gareth Rees was able to manage the tempo of the game and he and Dan Rutter combined to ensure the Exeter Braves defence was kept guessing as to the next point of attack.  A half break down the right by Rees was the first clear chance of the night and this was followed shortly afterwards by a deft kick from Rees which fell perfectly into Ben Chambers grasp who crossed for the score?  However, the celebration was short lived as the referee blew for Chambers being offside.  It proved to be a short stay of execution for the Braves as a couple of minutes later they were once again exposed on their right flank and this time Chambers made sure of the points as he crossed for the game’s first try.  Though the score was wide out, Rees made no mistake with the conversion and from being three points down the Navy were now leading 7-3.

7-3 became 21-3 by half time as the Navy team kept the pressure on.  Forcing mistakes at the breakdown the Navy regularly turned over possession or won penalties and were then able to gain valuable territory through kicks to touch.  From a midfield penalty Rutter found touch to win a 5m lineout.  The rest was a familiar routine to Navy Rugby followers as Priddey hit his mark, the maul was formed and trundled towards Exeter’s goal line before Priddey went over for yet another try from a rolling maul.  With Rees adding the extra points 7-3 was now 14-3 and before long it was further extended to 21-3 as Ben Chambers scored an ugly try in the 2nd quarter.  The play had broken down but Chambers showed composure as he looked to rectify the situation with a deft grubber kick into In Goal.  Rounding the defender, he was comfortably first to the ball and dotted down for the try as half time neared.  From the restart the Braves looked as if they would mount a concerted attack but they were undone by the Navy defence which again forced the error and allowed the referee to blow for halt time with the Royal Navy good value for their 21-3 lead.

Half time saw the first of the many changes that both sides were to make.  Henry Hughes replaced Ben Chambers on the wing.   For the first couple of minutes he had to watch as the Navy probed the Braves defence on the opposite side of the pitch but eventually the play was switched and as the Braves defence was stretched Hughes was on hand to cross for the Royal Navy’s fourth try of the night with his first touch of the game.  Having nailed three difficult kicks from the far left touchline, Gareth Rees was wide with the effort from the far right.  26 -3 and baring a significant loss of concentration the match was all but sown up.

Further changes did cause a shift in momentum and Scott Makepeace had to rally his team as Exeter Braves hit straight back with a try of their own.  The team responded but had lost their edge.  A couple of half chances were missed and field position squandered as silly errors crept into the Navy’s performance.  An attacking 5m lineout was the perfect platform for Ben Priddey to get a second try but poor execution saw the Braves steal the ball and clear their lines.  Eventually the fifth try did come and again it was from close range and through the forwards.  As another maul headed towards the try line, the small but vociferous Navy support lifted the noise levels and strained to see if it was Priddey who was controlling the ball.  It wasn’t but instead it was the Navy’s gentle giant, Timoci Kava, who touched down.  A deserved reward for an evening where he had grafted all night in both defence and attack.  Replaced immediately afterwards he could put his feet up and watch the last minutes of the game unfold from the dry of the sidelines satisfied with a job well done.

It was a job well done for all of the team despite the conceding of a second try as the game slightly fizzled out towards the end.  The early match had seen some sound defence from Scott Makepeace’s team where the desire from the side to work hard for each other was evident.  The team’s attacking play visibly grew after the first twenty minutes and they controlled the middle part of the game either side of half time with simple, and largely error free rugby, that took the match away from the home side.  The final fifteen minutes were not the best and the inevitable changes broke the flow of the match for both sides but by then the result was secure.  The review will show areas where this side full of youthful promise can still clearly improve but it is always easier to look for these improvements on the back of a well earned and comprehensive away win.  Final score Exeter Braves 13 Royal Navy Senior XV 31.

Senior XV:, 1 ETME Richard Ives, 2 LPT Ben Priddey *, 3 LCpl Aaron Wilman *, 4 LS(HM) John Kirwan *, 5 AET Scott Makepeace * (Capt), 6 LCpl Edd Pascoe *, 7 SLt RN Mitchell Spencer *, 8 AB Timoci Kava *, 9 AB Gareth Rees *, 10 AET Dan Rutter, 11 LAET Ben Chambers *, 12 Mne Setareki Raumakita *, 13 AET Brad Janes *, 14 LCpl Troy Gobey, 15 AET Jordan Gott

Replacements from: 16 Mne Kai Baker for Brad Janes, 17 LA(AH) Ethan Barnaschone for Ben Priddey, 18 SLt RN Scott Bentley for Richie Ives, 19 Mne Rory Bonnick for Mitchell Spencer, 20 LAET Sam Carter for Gareth Rees, 21 ET(ME) Dom Cleverley for Aaron Wilman, 22 AB Jake Hanley for Dan Rutter, 23 Surg Lt RN Henry Hughes for Ben Chambers, 24 SLt RN Declan Johnson * for Timoci Kava, 25 Mne Toby Papp for Edd Pascoe, 26 Mne Alex Peterson for Troy Gobey, 27, AB(Sea) Kai Allton for Scott Bentley 28 NA(AH) Ben Watson * for Scott Makepeace

* - -Denotes capped player

Next match for the Royal Navy Senior XV is Wednesday 11 March 2020 v Richmond at the Richmond Athletic Ground.
Next match for the Royal Navy Rugby Union is Sunday when the Women’s XV are away to Devon at Topsham RFC, 8 March, KO: 14:30.

By line: Geraint Ashton Jones
Images credit: © Alligin Photography