HMNB Portsmouth v HMS Sultan
HMNB Portsmouth came into the game against HMS Sultan after a lengthy spell without a match. As there have been many Ships away on deployment or work up, it was hard to obtain a team for the fixture.
After rustling up interest from 18 players for the match, HMNB Portsmouth was forced to start with only 13 players on the pitch. The hope of more arriving after finishing courses or being released from Ships was never more keenly felt by those 13. HMNB Portsmouth Rugby team arrived at HMS Temeraire on a still, cold evening in good time to start preparations for the match with an intensive warm up and stretching session.
All preparations were in place to front up against a reputedly strong and well drilled Sultan team. From the kick off Sultan ran the ball back hard, working the phases indicating intent to dominate territory and possession. HMNB Portsmouth worked hard in defence, time after time disrupting Sultan's cohesion and negating the effectiveness of their powerful pack; however something had to give and with Sultan continuing to find spaces, they worked the ball out wide and using the pace of their backs scored their first try with 8 minutes on the clock.
This was the first of many tries scored in this manner; HMNB Portsmouth worked tirelessly in defence but the numerical advantage began to tell making the difference in attack. Any space in open play was seized upon by Sultan's agile backs.
At half time Sultan had established an almost unassailable lead and with the second half underway HMNB Portsmouth were still 2 men down. They continued to make their tackles, working hard for each other. Sultan tried route one, jumper up jersey tactics with their forwards but failed to have the desired effect. To dominate the game they only had to use their backs who began to score tries freely.
As the match went on HMNB Portsmouth suffered some injuries reducing them further to 10
men. A gentlemen's agreement between the two captains was struck and the referee called time with 20 minutes remaining. The final score ended 60 points to nil in Sultan's favour but for the determined defence of those 13 it could have been more.