HMS Seahawk Survive Late 40 Cdo Fight Back to Secure Fourth Navy Cup
40 Cdo RM
The 44th Royal Navy Rugby Union Cup final was played in atrocious conditions at Devonport Services’ Rectory ground. Constant heavy rain was swept across the ground by strong westerly winds as the pitch quickly cut up into a soup of liquid mud. It is to both sides’ credit that such a good game of rugby was produced but by the end the final had been decided through the strength of HMS Seahawk’s scrum, as they secured a deserved 19-12 victory over 40 Commando Royal Marines.
When Luke Warrington led 40 Cdo RM out he knew that the first half was going to be crucial having elected to play into the worsening conditions. And despite an early penalty goal set back from Seahawk’s fullback, Matt Horton, his team responded. Showing great composure on the ball the 40 Cdo RM pack’s driving game around the fringes ensured they monopolised possession and territory. Though the wind allowed Seahawk to frequently clear their lines, 40 Cdo RM kept running the ball back through their lively back three before their forwards made the hard yards in the final third. However even in this opening period they were struggling at the scrum where HMS Seahawk’s front row of loosehead prop, Chris Warner, hooker, Chris Ellor and tighthead prop, John Court, were, scrum by scrum, exerting their superiority.
Having had one good claim for a try ruled out as held up in In Goal, 40 Cdo RM kept their composure and kept the pressure on. Sustained driving saw play gradually drift right before scrum half Kyle Billam switched the play and skipper Luke Warrington arced around the narrow defence for the first try of the evening. With the conversion missed 40 Cdo RM held a slim 5-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The try seemed to galvanise HMS Seahawk, aided by too many mistakes by 40 Cdo RM at the tackle which saw a mounting tackle count against them. First kicking to the corner to gain field position, these penalties finally gave Matt Horton further chances for kicks at goal and, having landed two from three, HMS Seahawk approached half time back in front, 9-5.
It was clear that 40 Cdo RM were looking to hold out until half time but were struggling to get out of their own half. A long Horton kick to the corner brought Seahawk within rolling maul distance of 40 Cdo’s goal line. With the ball secured by Hayden Wilkinson at the lineout Seahawk’s maul was driven to the goal line but excellent 40 Cdo defence held them out, but could their scrum do the same? The first scrum was driven before 40 Cdo RM put it to ground, the resulting penalty saw skipper John Lamsin elect for the scrum. Another drive, another collapse but this time the referee went under the posts to award a penalty try which Horton converted. A hammer blow to 40 Cdo RMs’ hopes of securing a first Navy Cup win just before half time and HMS Seahawk headed to the warmth of the changing rooms 16-5 in front at the midway break.
It didn’t seem possible but by the second half the conditions had worsened and scoring was always going to be difficult. HMS Seahawk started more brightly and soon extended their lead with a fourth Matt Horton penalty. Even at this early stage it looked as if 19-5 would be enough and, as the half unfurled, HMS Seahawk’s scrum again and again came to their rescue as they either drove 40 Cdo RM back to turn over possession or gave impressive number 8, Jim Kava, a rock steady platform to drive the ball at the heart of the 40 Cdo RM defence.
However, with the match deep in to its final ten minutes 40 Cdo RM finally got the break through they needed. A clean break by centre Louis Pentelow gave them momentum which was continued by a strong, surging run from lock forward Tom O’Keeffe. Though HMS Seahawk seemed to have contained the attack, for once they were unable to dislodge possession and eventually the hard working flanker, Ben Fox, drove over for 40 Cdo’s second try. A successful conversion brought them back to within a single score of drawing level and made for an extremely anxious last five minutes for HMS Seahawk.
Despite a couple of half chances to 40 Cdo RM, Seahawk were able to close out the game through, once more, the security of their scrum. First a turnover gave them control of the possession before a scrum of their own allowed Kava one final drive up field. Though possession was eventually regained by Luke Warrington’s side they were unable to breech a solid HMS Seahawk guard defence, where man of the match, Chris Warner had been outstanding all evening. In desperation to keep the move alive 40 Cdo RM infringed at the tackle and another penalty to Seahawk allowed Horton to kick the ball in to touch for the final whistle to sound and the celebrations to begin. 19-12, the final score, and HMS Seahawk had bounced back from the cup final defeat last season, to secure their fourth Navy Cup Final.
HMS Seahawk: Chris Warner, Chris Ellor, John Court, Gav Harmer, Hayden Wilkinson, John Lamsin (Capt), Guy Pallett, Jim Kava, Ryan Cox, Sam Carter, Bobby Conroy-Smith, Greg Loydall, Matthew Holland, Richard Binns, Matt Horton Reps: Chris Olliffe, Rob Lockhead, Paddy Marsh, Jack Grady, Toby Horwood, Nasiko Iffy Kava, Dan Cockin
40 Cdo RM: Dain Norman, Chris Stanton, Zandar Youngman, Tom O’Keeffe, Steve Atkins, Ben Fox, Henry Loilt, Jo Bennett, Kyle Billam , Luke Warrington, Rob Hayes, Louis Pentelow, Nick Pinniger, Sam Mitchell, Mike Edmundson
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones and © Mark Andrews