Army Masters Win Inter Services with 47-20 Victory Over Navy Mariners
The Navy Mariners started the match brightly pressuring the Army Masters into giving up some early penalties. The Mariners kicked to the corner going for the try but instead produced a handling error, allowing the Army Masters the opportunity to clear from their own 22. The Mariners came back with some clever kicking from inside centre Dean Fentum who put the ball in behind the dangerous Masters’ winger Tuvita Tamatawale. Under pressure the Masters gave away another penalty, this time the Mariners opted to kick for goal but narrowly missed giving up the opportunity to score the opening points.
The Mariners continued to pressure the Masters in defence but lacked the clinical edge to turn the pressure into points. When the Masters scrum half, Gareth Slade-Jones, was given a yellow card for a high tackle, it seemed inevitable that the Mariners would open the scoring. The first score of the game soon followed but not for the Mariners. The Masters earned themselves a line out in the Mariners 22 for the first time in the match. The forwards secured a well worked line out before spreading the ball out to the backs for the influential outside centre, Ifereimi Vukinavanau, to slice his way through the Mariners defence to score the opening try. Following a successful conversion by full back Robert Smart the Army Masters led 7-0.
It was clear that the Masters had stepped it up a gear taking the kick off and setting off on a dangerous attack. Ifereimi Vukinavanau was again the creator, this time he busted his way through the Mariners defence. The ball made its way to winger, Tuvita Tamatawale, who was judged to be in touch despite his acrobatic dive to dot the ball down in the corner. The Masters soon extended their lead when a well worked attack was finished off by winger Sikeli Ratu. Again the conversion was successful, extending the Masters’ lead to 14-0 with just over 20 minutes played.
The Mariners came back but were unlucky when goal kicker Dean Fentum’s penalty attempt hit the post bouncing back into play. Minutes later the Mariners forced their way onto the scoreboard with a successful penalty kick following more poor discipline from the Masters.
The Mariners would have taken the 14-3 scoreline at halftime but the Masters scored a decisive try just before the break when the winger Sikeli Ratu crashed over from short range to score his second try. However Ratu was not content with his brace of tries and he earned himself a 10 minute rest just before the half time whistle for persistent team infringements around the ruck.
Half Time - Army Masters 21 Navy Mariners 3
The Mariners started the second half poorly as the Masters scrum half Gareth Slade-Jones exploited an acre of space left around the ruck to dart over the line to put the Army Masters 28-3 ahead. The match looked dead and buried.
However the Mariners did rally, showcasing some excellent forwards play. Setting up a controlled rolling maul the pack drove for the line, lock Paul Mortensen detached himself and burrowed his way to the try line reaching through the Masters’ defence to dot the ball over the line.
With the score now 28-8 the Mariners upped their intensity and were rewarded minutes later with another try. This time full back Russell Sayer, the Royal Navy’s Mike Connolly Award winner for 2016, finished off a well worked backs move taking the score to 28-13 after another missed conversion.
The Mariners number 8 Tomasi Matanatabu worked tirelessly throughout the match and played an influential role in the Mariners next try. Powerful ball carrying from Matanatabu drove the ball into the Masters 22 before quickly moving the ball to Fentum to crash over the line. This time the conversion was successful taking the score to 28-20.
Any thoughts of a comeback were squashed when the Masters key player Ifereimi Vukinavanau again cut through the Mariners defence to set up replacement scrum half Seresio Masikau to score. Moments later Ifereimi Vukinavanau showcased some clever footwork and a chip kick which saw replacement Garth Williamson touch down under the post. The score 40-20 which was further exteneded when flanker Andy Jackson completed the excellent performance scoring the final try of the match to seal the victory. The final score 47-20.
Article and Images by Army Navy Match / © Nick Flexman