HMS Argyll RFC v Grand Cayman RFC
HMS Argyll RFC v Cayman RFC
HMS Argyll followed on from their emphatic win in Mexico with a much anticipated match vs Grand Cayman. A lot of friendly banter between LPT Sam Sims and the Cayman committee had taken place in the build up to this game and the hosts were excited to welcome the Argyll boys to their home ground. Cayman have a great reputation as a Rugby Club and that was apparent on entering their ground. The staff were extremely friendly and the ground was in good repair, a far cry from some of the establishments Argyll had visited over the recent months. As in Mexico, the prospect of a competitive Rugby fixture from an overseas opponent, especially the Royal Navy, had the locals out in force, particularly after the game had been advertised on the local radio station for the few days beforehand. The Ship’s company also did their bit in supporting. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to enjoy a few cold beers in the sun they loaded themselves onto the transport with the team and headed off to the ground. Argyll arrived early and made the most of the facilities, the kit was laid out and the team relaxed by throwing a few balls around in the sun as the supporters went to the bar.
Sims and stand in Captain Lt Cdr Ian Bailey discussed the options of the starting line up and prepared the team for the game to come. Cayman provided a team of 3 officials and water/sports drinks for the duration of the game, which was a kind gesture from the club. The starting line up was named and Argyll were ready to face off under the evening Caribbean sun.
Argyll kicked the game off with Lt Cdr Grant Dalgleish playing at fly half in the absence of AB(WS) Blake Smith who was still back in England training with the RNRU U23's. Cayman were a good team and for such a small Island they boast at least 3 teams within their RFU. The team that faced off against Argyll was a mixture of all 3. They were strong in the centres and their full back was once a Fiji International 7s player. Their pack was strong and this made for a good battle with the Argyll forwards. As most of the games have started tentatively, so did this one with both teams feeling each other out. Early mistakes were made but also both teams showed each other what they were made of, with some big tackling and fast running play. Sims nearly intercepted a wayward pass aimed at their winger, but was judged to have knocked on. The Argyll defence were strong on more than one occasion to ensure their opponents didn’t break their line. The opportunity for first blood was given to Argyll when Cayman were penalised for offside and Dalgleish opted to go for the posts, giving the boys in green a breather. Re-living his days as 'Special Teams Field Goal Kicker' for his University American Football Team, Dalgleish lined it up but narrowly missed to the right. Cayman were a very experienced team - their national team regularly compete in the Dubai 7's - and always put up good competition. They had a couple of their international players in the squad for this fixture and it showed in key areas of the game. One of their prop's was one such player and a force to be reckoned with, making the scrums a great spectacle with both teams determined to win each encounter. LCH Matthew Roberts was on top form and did not let his opponents out do him during this game; he even used his right foot to good effect on more than one occasion, clearly remembering his junior days as a full back. Cayman's pressure was soon to pay off and they had won a lineout on the halfway line and started a maul. Driving forward they recycled the ball quickly and soon their centre was bearing down on the Argyll Red Zone only to be held up by CPO Jon Oliver. Cayman cleared Argyll out of the ruck and were on the move again, this time they stepped inside and ran in to put the ball down just outside the posts. It was a fantastic passage of play leading to a try by Cayman, which they converted and went 7-0 up. Argyll spent the majority of the remaining 10 minutes to go until half time in the Cayman half but could just not make the breakthrough that they had needed; the Cayman defence was strong and had an answer to every Argyll question. LS Adrian McFarlane and Oliver were relentless with their running, but it was like running into a wall of Red and White every time. Finally the half time whistle came and both teams retired to opposite sides of the field to re-group and plan the second half.
The Argyll players were happy with their first half performance having matched Cayman in most aspects of the game. As had been the theme throughout their matches whilst deployed, their tackling and last line of defence proved strong, with not a lot of tackles missed and every tackle made with a determination to win the ball and get points on the board. LT CDR Tim Grimley was a perfect example of this - a quiet natured man, but on the rugby field he hits like a steam train, with some of his tackles leaving the crowd wincing. A victim of his own success, he was replaced during the break due to a shoulder niggle, with LET Michael Monnington coming on in his place in the second row. The rest of the team remained unchanged and Captain for the day, LT CDR Ian Bailey, wanted much of the same and to try and get some points on the board.
The second half started with Argyll on the front foot again. They had no issues running at Cayman and if they had just a little bit more composure to either find that killer pass or step into the space to open Cayman up completely then they would have found the try line on a number of occasions. As it was, Cayman were holding firm and playing Argyll at their own game of stopping them short. PO David Sidebottam came close with his kamikaze style running, as did Oliver. The game stayed at 7-0 for about 25 minutes of the half, but not without incident or sheer grit from Argyll. On a few occasions Cayman broke the line only for Argyll to pick themselves up and stop them in their tracks. On one occasion Argyll had played the ball out well from the back and approaching the Cayman 22 the ball had been turned over. With Argyll committed up field Cayman counter attacked, breaking at pace and were deep into the Argyll half with ET(ME) Adam Townsend sprinting back in vain to stop what looked like an instant try. With about 15 yards to the try line Sims clattered into their attacker, taking him down, but not before he had offloaded to their winger who was clean through before Sims was onto him and swung him into touch to stop what seemed to be a definite try. With 15 minutes left on the clock Argyll rang the changes. 23 lads had turned up for a game, which was testament to the Argyll team and what it says about so many of the Ship’s Company giving up their own time and wanting to represent the Argyll at a competitive sports fixture. 7 changes were made in all and unfortunately for Argyll this changed the whole dynamic of the game. In the 15 minute period of the changes Cayman ran in 4 unanswered tries and converted one of them. All were similar in nature; Argyll pressed up the field looking for the equaliser and they would turn the ball over and charge through, moving the ball too quickly for the new look Argyll team to react to, putting the ball down over the line, much to the pleasure of the crowd. Not taking anything away from the Argyll replacements, but the Cayman team could smell blood and like a true predator they took it and took it in style. Argyll were still digging in and trying to stop their opponents but they proved just too strong and in the end the final score was 29 - 0.
Although on paper the score looked a washout the game itself was a different affair. Once again Argyll showed their true colours by fighting through in adversity, pushing their opponents back for the majority of the second half and almost keeping them at bay. Ultimately with regards to the result the changes came too late for them to make an impact and Cayman caught them cold and made the most of. It is always nice to win a Rugby match and especially in a fixture like the one that was played between these two competitive teams, but in a friendly fixture it is also important for the game to be enjoyed by everyone involved and that night it was. Everyone had game time; both Argyll and Cayman walked off the pitch with smiles on their faces and to applause and cheers from everyone watching as the teams walked through their respective tunnels.
Argyll walked off the pitch happy in the fact they had competed in another great fixture and look towards their next game in the Dominican Republic against 'The Red Dragons RFC'.
AB(SEA) Joshua Burdett (Rep LAC Robert Richardson)
LS(AWW) Jon Larson
PO(ETWE) David Sidebottam (Rep LT James Cooke)
LCH Matthew Roberts (Rep ET(WE) Ben Northcott)
LT CDR Tim Grimley (Rep LET(ME) Michael Monnington)
LT Anthony Kane (Rep AB(SEA) Michael Penney)
S/Lt Beau Hendrickson
LS(EW) Adrian McFarlane
ET(WE) Alex Jay (Rep AB(SEA) Tom Hardman)
LT CDR Grant Dalgleish ( VC )
ET(ME) Adam Townsend (Rep AB(WS) Jack Thompson)
CPO Jon Oliver
LT CDR Ian Bailey ( C )
LPT Sam Sims (AB(WS) Stan Matthews)
AB(WS) Kieran Dennis