Fleet Air Arm Power Through the Gales and RN East
Fleet Air Arm
Neither the atrocious weather conditions nor RN East could knock the Fleet Air Arm of course, at Ivel Barbarians RFC yesterday, as they recorded a fifth win from five in the round robin stages of the Inverdale Challenge Trophy. Though the deteriorating conditions did cause the referee to call ‘No Side’ at 63 minutes the Fleet Air Arm already had eight tries without reply for a comfortable 40-0 win.
All season it has been the Fleet Air Arm pack that has provided the platform for their victories. Their final match, at home to winless RN East, was no different although the torrential rain, driven across the pitch in gale force winds, was always going to make deft back play tricky.
It was with the conditions behind them in the first half that the Fleet Air Arm set about their task in hand. It was soon evident that their forwards were too strong for a determined but lighter ‘Pompey’ pack. The opening try was scored by Number 8 ‘Sumo’ Thompson who dotted down as the FAA pack drove a 5m scrum over the Goal Line. As was the case all night, the try was not converted.
With the best of conditions still in their favour the Fleet Air Arm did try to play some enterprising rugby with the ball going beyond the fly half when possible and it was through a rare enterprising move that they outflanked the RN East defence for the second try, inside centre Ritchie Metcalf being the one who finally claimed the score in the corner.
The conditions made it increasing difficult for RN East to get any territory and the FAA pack ensured that possession was also at a premium. It wasn’t long before their defence was again under pressure and first it was lock Mark Pollard who scored the Fleet Air Arm’s third from a driven lineout before Thompson grabbed his second as he picked and drove over from a scrum 10m out.
20-0 as the game was approaching half time was a testament to the resolute defensive play from RN East who continued to harass and tackle for all their worth. However, they were unable to prevent the Fleet Air Arm scoring their fifth as once more their backline was released and managed to get the slippery ball through the hands to give winger Sean Houghton space to squeeze over in the corner for the final score of the half.
It was Houghton who opened the scoring in the second half when he capitalised on a great break from Royal Navy prop, Kye Beasley. Having split the defence Beasley made good ground before some skilful inter play from the supporting FAA pack continued the move up field. Scrum half Cory Moore eventually found Houghton who had the simplest of second scores.
From the restart RN East was able to use the wind to gets some field position deep in the Fleet Air half. Nonetheless, despite now playing into the driving rain, the FAA pack were playing their best rugby and showing good skill with their off loading game. The seventh try was one of beauty for those who appreciate the art of the short passing game. Strong running, good driving positions in contact and the ball being popped up to the supporting player always on the shoulder. RN East kept putting the man to ground, but the ball remained alive as the Fleet Air Arm pack powered their way up field before releasing sniping scrum half Moore to scamper in from twenty metres and claim his second try, which no doubt will be remembered as ‘the forwards’ try.
There was only time for one more score before referee Phil Ware brought matters to a premature end. Once more it was close driving play from the lineout that proved unstoppable from the tiring RN East pack and Pollard was the man with the ball as they crossed the line for their eighth try.
40-0 was a fair reflection of the Fleet Air Arm dominance and they will travel to Portsmouth for the final on the 28th full of confidence as they seek to regain the Inverdale Challenge Trophy.
28 January 2015 – Inverdale Challenge Trophy Final
Images by Alligin Photography / © Darren Bell