HMS OCEAN takes on Bahrain RFC during Operational Standoff
HMS Ocean v Bahrain RFC
HMS OCEAN is nearing the end of her second month of deployment East of Suez, in Command of the Combined Task Force responsible for co-ordinating multi-national maritime assets on behalf of the United States in the Gulf region. A standoff to Bahrain provided the first opportunity for the Ship's rugby team to take to the field and de-stress from duty. It was also the first time many of the players had come together in the same team, so as they took to the field to play under the spotlights no one really knew what to expect.
Ocean started well, from the kick off the forwards kept the ball within the pack and after some strong runs, rucking, and slick offloads, found themselves only five metres out from the Bahrain try line. However it was clear to see the tell-tale signs of being onboard a ship for too long, by the fact that the forwards could not finish off - knocking the ball on, on three separate attacking occasions.
So the visitors shifted to Plan B and let the backs play, with some pleasing results. Quick hands, sharp running lines and the speed of the wingers left the Bahrain backs helpless in defence. Their saving grace was a number of infringements the referee identified. From this point on the rest of the game was very start/stop and the referee was busy with his whistle!
After a smooth Ocean line-out in Ocean’s own half and lightning fast hands from the backs, the ball was passed to the wing. The Bahrain winger was sold a very large dummy and Ocean’s attack found themselves ten metres out, with only the Bahrain full back to beat. A simple two on one was delivered and Ocean’s team captain NA(AH) Tom Matanatabu ran in the first try of the game, with ET(ME) Sammy Davis scoring the conversion, making the score 0-7 to Ocean.
In response Bahrain upped their efforts and the countless penalties given away by Ocean allowed the home side to push forward and attack the Ocean try line for the rest of the half. The Ocean defence refused to break. With only a minute before half time Ocean were awarded the put in at the scrum. Disappointingly the clearance kick was charged down and Bahrain opened their score board, the half ended 7-7.
The second half continued in a similar vein to the first with the referee's whistle sounding a number of times. Although Ocean battled on and were rewarded with a second try on one of their very few opportunities in the Bahrain 22 in the second half. Marine Dom Taylor blasted over the line, and once again Sammy was on hand to add the two points making the score 7-14 to Ocean.
This game was always an uphill battle for the naval side and after the re-start Bahrain camped on the Ocean try line again for the remainder of the match. Their second try came from one of many penalties that were given to the home side, five metres out. After twenty minutes of being held back by Ocean's solid defence Bahrain RFC final found a way through and touched down in the corner. With the clock showing that only a few minutes play remained, the game's result rested on the conversion, which the Bahrain fly-half coolly knocked through the middle of the posts. As the clock ticked down neither side could break through and the game ended 14-14. It was a great first outing for the HMS Ocean Rugby Team and they would like to thank Bahrain RFC for hosting them in what will hopefully be the first of many rugby matches played during the deployment.
Words by Chris Ellor
Images Crown Copyright 2016/LPhot Hall