Back to winning form ahead of IS competition
RN Senior XV
The RNRU Senior team kicked off their preparations for this year's Inter Services competition way back on the 3rd February with a convincing 50-26 win over Cambridge University. Fast forward 3 months, 5 more wins, 2 losses and a positive points difference of 81 points they lined up for their last warm up game against Devon RFU on Wednesday 13th April at Brickfields, the home of Plymouth Albion.
With numerous players missing through injury and suspension the team was shuffled to face a Devon side coached by former Bath Rugby prop and RNRU Captain Mr Daniel Parkes. With selection problems of their own the Devon side provided a good platform for the final preparation game of the year and asked a lot of questions of the RN side, but ultimately they did not have the strength in depth to take away anything from the game, with the RN winning 12-28.
The first half was both frantic and erratic at times, both teams flew out of the blocks and neither side could take positive control of the game, Kava and Hayler saw a lot of the ball in the opening passages of play and ran hard to try and carve an opening. Both teams were guilty of silly mistakes which made for scrappy play in places, between all the knock ons and penalties it was Devon that drew first blood with a well-worked try that saw them run from the back of a scrum and accurately work the ball wide for their No. 12 to overlap on the outside, receive the ball and run in for a try in the corner. A good team try but the RN will be unhappy about the quality of defence leading up to the score with numerous tackles being missed. With the conversion missed Devon sat on a 5 point lead until half way through the first half. After going a score down the RN regrouped and battled but could not find the breakthrough, Dimmock-Williams made a promising run from Full Back after collecting the high ball but could not gather his kick through and the attack amounted to nothing. It took just over 20 minutes for the RN to chalk their first points on the board, after numerous penalties and getting no luck kicking to the corner Captain, Ben Priddey, pointed to the posts for Number 10 Huntley to have a go. He scored his first kick and brought the score to 5-3. Fortunately for the RN, Huntley had his best kicking boots on that night and in the last 5 minutes of the half he kicked 2 more penalties to take the score to 5-9 at half time.
The first half lacked composure from both teams, it needed someone to grab the bull by the horns and take control. Unfortunately though every time it looked like one of the teams were starting to a mistake was made and the opportunities were squandered.
The half time team talk must have done the job for the RN because within 5 mins of the restart the Devon Hooker had been sin-binned for stopping a quick tap and go penalty and they had added a converted try to the scoreboard to take a 5-16 lead. However, not to be outdone by the boys in blue, the Devon team instantly replied with their own converted try to narrow the score to 12-16 and we had a game on our hands. After the initial burst of life the game slumped into the same quality as the first half, the penalty count began to mount and for the majority of the half the Devon team were on top and enjoying the lion’s share of possession. With the scores remaining the same for the duration of the second half the RN rang in the changes and with fresh legs came a new pressure and they turned the game on its head. The last phase of the game belonged to the RN with a disallowed try kicking off their dominance. They managed 2 more tries with Huntley converting one of them and making the score to 12-28.
It was clear that the boys had one eye on the start of their Inter Service Campaign, there were both positives and negatives to take from the game and head coach, Ash Coates, was just happy to come through the fixture with no fresh injury concerns and of course another win for his team.
The RN start their competition against the RAF at Burnaby Road in Portsmouth on Wednesday 20th April 2016, with everything to play for after the Airmen recorded their second victory in as many years over the Army.
Article by Sam Sims
Images by Alligin Photography/© Mark Andrews