Experience and muscle of Royal Marines wins out over BRNC
1st round BRNC v 40 CDO RM
The opening match of the 2017/18 Royal Navy Rugby Union Navy Cup saw 40 Commando Royal Marines travel to Dartmouth to take on Britannia Royal Naval College. The teams appeared evenly matched to begin with but the defensive strength of the Royal Marines won them the game.
As is often the case, both sides in the build up to the game had issues with player availability, however happily both managed full teams and 2 replacements each.
Kick off arrived in bright sunshine, with BRNC receiving. The first period saw BRNC camped in their own half for a protracted period but they largely kept 40 Cdo out of their 22. This highlighted the strength of the of 40 Cdo's defensive structure which didn't allow BRNC time or space to break out and was ultimately the key to the success of the Royal Marines.
Towards the end of the first half 40 Cdo's patience began to tell, with 3 near misses, 2 of which went out to winger Rory East who inexplicably had put his hands on the wrong way round and fumbled, whilst the other saw the opposite winger Joe Lawson go over only to be pulled back for a forward pass, which saw the Marines' coach pleading for the Television Match Official.
With 5 minutes left of the first half Dartmouth broke out in their midfield only to see 40 Cdo's scramble defence reform, but at the same time giving away a penalty 10 metres from their line. Dartmouth went for a scrum and a blindside movement was thwarted by an under pressure knock on.
40 Cdo then moved back into their more familiar territory where a break in midfield supported by loose forwards saw 40 Cdo go over in the centre for the first score of the game. Unfortunately the try was not converted and the first half score was 0 - 5 to the Marines.
The second half saw a more open expansive game. Still 40 Cdo pressed in their defence but BRNC turned to a kicking option to relieve the pressure. 40 Cdo's pack began to gain an ascendency over their rivals consistently winning their own and Dartmouth's line out. This is where the next try came from with a long range driving maul going over for a try from 40 Cdo's hooker. Then came a multi-phase effort which saw 40 Cdo's man of the match, prop Ben Stridgeon, go over under the posts.
Dartmouth then put together a really strong period of determined play with lots of short ball movement and forward pick and gos which saw them awarded a scrum 15 metres out from the 40 Cdo line. Although the ball turned scrappy a speculative long range bounce pass from the fly half released the left winger who ran round a narrow 40 Cdo defence to score five points for the Dartmouth team.
Shortly after 40 Cdo put the game out of sight with a converted try after some great interplay between backs and forwards before the ball went through the hands to see Captain Si Smith go over.
In summary a closely contested game with both sides playing great competitive rugby. 40 Cdo pulled away in the second half due to their pack becoming more dominant. Of particular note performances from Lt Jones at 10, Lt Will Rogers at 9, Sgt Andy Thomas at 8 and man of the match open side, Cpl Ben Stridgeon. Final score BRNC 5 - 40 Cdo RM 24
40 Commando Royal Marines Team List
1. CPL BEN STRIDGEON
2. MNE JAMES LYTHGOE
3. MNE OLLIE BALE
4. CSGT MAT LOWE
5. CAPT SAM COX
6. CAPT AL AINSLEY
7. MNE TAYLOR BROWN
8. SGT ANDY THOMAS
9. LT WILL ROGERS
10. LT MARTIN JONES
12. MNE JOHN PARKER
13. CAPT SI SMITH (Team Captain)
11. CAPT JOE LAWSON
14. LT RORY EAST
15. MNE EWAN MURRAY
Words by Russell Taylor