HMS Duncan faces the Sao Miguel Bulldogs


HMS Duncan


Sao Miguel 'Bulldogs'

Duncan strong in the set piece
PO 'Sticky' Green on the attack
Forwards working hard
LS 'Taff' Bowen crosses the try line
LS 'Taff' Bowen kicks to clear the line

On a cool evening in Portugal, Duncan arrived at the Sao Miguel Stadium, home of the Sao Miguel Bulldogs, for their last game of their NATO Deployment. It was also the last game for coach CPO “Smudge” Smith who is leaving on draft once the Ship returns to the UK. The home side won the toss and elected to kick off the ball which was gathered by PO “Sticky” Green who immediately mounted an attack with LREG “Nath” Holtum in support. Duncan were keen to stamp their authority on the game with some strong work in both the ruck and maul which saw quality phase ball for the scrum half, LS “Taff” Bowen, who made several sniping runs from the fringes. The first forced substitution occurred at 3 minutes when Logs “Billy” Prideaux took a large hit in the tackle and for his safety he retired from the game for an early shower. During this phase of play the Bulldogs recovered the ball, and with Duncan down to 14, ran in the first score of the game through their scrum half. The conversion attempt failed and the score was 5 - 0. Both sides continued to probe the respective defensive structure however strong team play saw forwards and backs interlinking at 14 mins for LS ”Taff” Bowen to score for Duncan with Lt “Jimmy” Carr slotting the conversion: 5 - 7 and Duncan took the lead. A confident Duncan received the restart with winger LET Josh Butler storming towards the Bulldog defence with PO “Sticky” Green hot on his heels. The forwards linked well and broke the gain-line but failed to break the Bulldogs strong defence. A turn over saw the Bulldogs on the attack passing the ball quickly through the backs with the winger seemingly in for a try, he inexplicably placed the ball on the 5m line allowing Duncan fullback ET James Burton to spot the error and hack the ball deep in to the opposition 22. The Bulldogs were quick to recover and again charged up field into Duncan’s strong defence. Both sides were evenly matched in defence with no sign of the lines being broken. It took some excellent play to break the deadlock with Bulldogs breaking through Duncan’s defence on 27 minutes for a converted try: Bulldogs nudged ahead 12- 7. The Bulldogs retained momentum following the restart and with a good attack through the centre of the park scored again on 34 Minute: the try was not converted 17 - 7. Duncan attacked again through the forwards but were unable to break the home side's strong defence.

At half time the score was 17-7.

The second half saw both teams strong in attack and battling to breakdown the even stronger defence. Duncan remained powerful in the lineout with good phases of play, and the home team looked to spin the ball wide and use the pace of their backs. Eventually the Bulldogs broke through and at 52 minutes score the first try (unconverted) of the second half to extend their lead 22 - 7. Duncan, quick on the restart, saw the forwards linking well with pick and go ball maintaining the drive. The final drive resulted in a knock on 1 metre short of the try line. The Bulldogs opted to kick deep ball to clear their lines. The ball gathered by CPO “Dolly” Partoon but a good chase saw him bundled into touch. Bulldogs opted to run the ball wide from the lineout and using the speed of their backs and unfortunately, too many missed tackles from Duncan, saw the home team score a converted try (61 minutes) 29 - 7. Not letting their heads drop Duncan again attacked the Bulldog defence using the strength of the forwards to barrel through the line but again were held up and again Duncan walked away from the opposition 22 without any points. Both teams continued the battle in the middle of the field when the Bulldogs span the ball wide to the winger who simply outpaced Duncan’s backs scoring a converted try at 71 minutes 36 - 7. With now only pride at stake Duncan gritted their teeth and recovered the restart with forwards and backs interlinking well leading to a penalty infringement from the home team. Duncan kicked for touch but failed to make the line, MA “Nath” Potts demonstrates his blistering speed on the wing, and in only his second game of rugby, charged down the ball bundling his man in to touch. Duncan won the line out and quality play followed, seeing the backs let loose at the home defence. Good rucking saw the pack take up the charge and from 2 metres out the scrum half LS “Taff” Bowen snipped around the fringe and scored his second try of the match (74 minutes); LET “Steph” Howells converting: 36 - 14. A rejuvenated Duncan took the attack back to the Bulldogs and the last minutes of the game were played at a frantic pace. MA “Nath” Potts intercepted a pass out wide and with exceptional pace took off up the wing and left the opposition in his wake to score (78 minutes converted) in the corner 36 - 21. In the final play of the match the Bulldogs took the fight back to Duncan and were rewarded with a last minute unconverted try. The final score was 41 - 21

Following a hard fought well contested game the supporters voted LS “Taff” Bowen as Duncan’s Man of the Match with a special mention for MA “Nath” Potts who in his second competitive game of rugby not only scored but demonstrated his pace and commitment.

Following the match CPO “Smudge” Smith commented “This is a young team with a lot of potential and they should look to build on the games they have played thus far. This time last year Duncan’s Rugby team were non-existent and to now have a squad of 28 players is a testament to the team ethos and commitment they have”.

Team List:
1. PO(ET)(WE) Rich Green, 2. Lt Cdr James Smith, 3. LREG Nathan Holtum, 4. CPO(ET)(WE) Ian Woods, 5. ET(CIS) Nathan Greenhaigh, 6. ET(ME) Nathan Griggs, 7. Lt Tim Dunning, 8. Capt Callum Bridger, 9. LS(UW) Aled Bowen, 10. Lt Steve Carr. 11. Logs(SC) Ben Prideaux, 12. LET(WE) Steffan Howells, 13. LS(AWW) Adam Hamilton, 14. LET(WE) Josh Butler, 15. ET(WE) James Burton.

Replacements: 16. SLt Joseph Cox, 17. AB(SEA) Andrew Linburn, 18. PO(SEA) Alan Paxton, 19. MA Nathan Potts, 20. ET(CIS) Kieran Gill, 21. CPO (AE) Gavin Partoon, 22. ET(WE) Joseph Stevenson, 23. PO(AWT) Stuart Collins, 24. AB(UW) Daradh Brand

Match Report by: CPO(AWT) Chris Smith
Images: Crown Copyright 2018 © LPhot Hall