Eastern League HMS Heron v RAF Odiham
HMS Heron v RAF Odiham
Boosted by talented Army players from the Army Air Corps, HMS Heron became a more diverse team to face the RAF team. Could the Army and Navy play well in a combined team to beat their RAF counterparts?
It didn't take long for the first points to be scored. The Heron team worked the possession well from the kick off to reach Odiham's 22 and were awarded with a penalty. Team captain John Clay slotted the easy 3 points to take the lead 3 - 0. From the restart Heron held possession once again and worked up the slope to gain yet another 3 points, extending their lead further 6 - 0.
Could Heron make it third time lucky? Once again good passages of play took Heron up to the green zone and quick ball across the backs saw winger Vince Richardson go over in the corner. John Clay added the extra points to maintain his kicking form of 3 from 3, 13 - 0.
With a comfortable lead Heron relaxed a little too much and allowed a re-grouped Odiham side to bag a try of their own making the score 13 - 5.
Then strong running from centre Aaron Hunt broke the line 50m out and he found support out wide with a huge pass. The covering defence blocked the path of fullback Josh Oakley who returned a pass back inside to Hunt 5 metres from the tryline to see him cross the line unopposed. An easy conversion for Clay was successful to make the score 20 - 5.
Just before the halftime whistle a kick from the Odiham full back saw a footrace to the bouncing ball at the Heron 22m line. With both players tracking the ball a controversial penalty try was awarded after the Heron player had allegedly changed his running line to block the Odiham full back. Going into half time the score was 20 - 12.
The start of the second half saw Heron quickly heading down the slope. Camped at the Odiham tryline Heron sucked in the defence and 3 long passes saw wing Tyus Sargeant go over in the corner. John Clay was once again successful with the boot to extend Heron's lead 27 - 12.
This is where the Odiham half time team talk came in to play. A focus on counter rucking saw Odiham stealing Heron ball at every opportunity and this was the catalyst for what would be a good half of rugby from the visiting team. Was a comeback on the cards?
Claiming possession back from a clearance kick Odiham scored a well-deserved converted try in front of the posts to close the gap 27 - 19. Soon after and with Heron defending their tryline Odiham utilised the size of their players and from the base of the ruck claimed another 5 points, 27 - 24.
Then Heron's lack of discipline allowed Odiham once again to get up the slope and with their inside centre causing havoc to the Heron defence he got his team yet another try to take the lead with 15 minutes left to play, 27 - 31.
However great work from giants 'Lank' and Makepeace and strong defending by veteran Rob Lochhead saw Heron pin Odiham back in their half and the effort put in to the visitors counter rucking seemed to have exhausted the Odiham players. Multiple infringements crept in and a penalty awarded to Heron 20m out saw a quick tap and a pass to put Hunt under the sticks untouched and John Clay maintained his 100% kicking accuracy, 34 - 31. Heron piled on the pressure in the last 5 minutes and looked like scoring again but RNRU Senior XV player Scott Makepeace was unable to maintain control of the ball over the try line in the last play of the game.
The final score 34 - 31 reflected the energy and enthusiasm of both sides - a great effort from all and a good display of rugby for the crowd.
Words by H Saunders