Home win against Hampshire
RN Senior XV
It was a cold, foggy night on the South Coast when the Royal Navy Senior XV treated the spectators at Burnaby Road to a convincing win over County Shield Champions, Hampshire RFU, 28 - 5, in their only home match of the season.
Following a day of brilliant sunshine with thermometers at the training camp in Fort Blockhouse, Gosport touching 18 degrees centigrade, the temperature plummeted and the mist rolled in. Fog sirens could be heard in the background as Royal Marine musician, Edd Pascoe, led the Navy team onto the pitch for this their first and only match at Burnaby Road in 2017.
There were some key players absent from the team sheet, with team captain and hooker, Ben Priddey still resting after an injury, and scrum half Gareth Rees doing likewise. However it was good to see some other players who have recently joined the camp, including Dave 'Fairy' Fairbrother and Scott Makepeace. Another face we have been more used to seeing on the touch line rather than on the pitch is Dave Pascoe, who came on in the second half to the delight of the crowd of loyal RNRU supporters.
Hampshire started strongly, keen to assert themselves, and had the greater share of the possession in the first quarter. The majority of the action took place in the middle of the field but on occasion the Navy defence were put under pressure and worked hard to clear the ball away from their 5 yard line. The set pieces were working well for both sides and it was clear that this was going to be a good night of Rugby.
Despite all the action in the first twenty five minutes, neither side managed to break through for a score. Hampshire optimistically opted to kick a penalty from within their half, which narrowly missed, and the scoreboard remained 0 - 0.
Then the Senior XV started to settle into their game and began to work through the phases. From a Navy scrum, Cadywould kicked to touch at the Hampshire 22. The following line out saw the Navy gain territory with a driving maul up to the opposition 5 yard line. Hampshire, now under pressure, defended well but the clearance only took them back to their own 22. The Navy were quick to reassert the pressure and regain territory. Hampshire had to defend a scrum in front of the posts and then they had a lineout at their own 5 yard line. The Navy pressure got the better of them and the Navy stole the ball and in Pascoe's capable hands it went over for the first try of the night, which was converted by Cadywould, for the Navy to take the lead 7 - 0.
Now off the mark, it wasn't long before the home side added to their tally. This time it was Fairbrother who crossed the line with ball, after some slick passing out of the back of a Navy scrum. Although it might have been difficult for some of those watching to see the posts through the descending fog, Cadywould had no problem with the second conversion, extending the lead 14 - 0.
From the re-start Hampshire were on the attack, keen to get some points before half time, but it was not to be. Navy prop, Jones, was injured and Robinson came on to replace him. Then a yellow card for Navy No 8 Fairbrother took the Navy team down to 14 men in to the break, with the score line 14 - 0.
As the teams returned to the pitch for the second half, Edd Pascoe was replaced by submariner Matt Harvey. With the Navy a man down this was always going to be Hampshire's best chance for a score and they rose to the challenge. Playing some nice running rugby they made their way into the Navy territory, looking for the gap or the overlap. After about 5 minutes, the pressure became too much for the Navy and the Hampshire team found a gap to touch down for a try. It was not converted and the scoreboard showed 14 - 5.
Fortunately for the Navy the clock was ticking down and Fairbrother returned from the sin bin to take the team back up to full strength. Then head coach, Ash Coates, began to ring the changes, wanting to give his bench the opportunity for some match time. In quick succession Basher, Bowden and Taylor came on to replace Buinimasi, Lloydall and Trehan. Then Dave Pascoe, Kava, Huntley, Mason, Cooper and Hughes came off the bench as Moore, Fox, Dimmock-Williams, Evans, Harvey and Collins took to the pitch. Cadywould shifted to full-back. Hampshire were similarly ringing the changes and this clearly disrupted the flow of play and it took both teams a while to settle.
But it was the Navy team who were the first to recover their composure, with an explosive try from the experienced Dave Pascoe, again converted by Cadywould, 21 - 5. With only a few minutes of the final quarter left to play, the fog appeared to get thicker, but both sides wanted another score. It seemed as if they would be beaten by the clock when out of nowhere, in the final minute, replacement winger, Bowden, found some space to make the break, running from deep within the Navy half to cross the line for the fourth Navy try of the night. And it was left to Cadywould to complete the action - with another successful conversion, and the final score was RNRU Senior XV 28 - 5 Hampshire RFU.
It was a great match between the current Inter Service Champions and the County Champions, but the Navy side definitely exploited their home advantage, and the team management will have been happy with the performance of their team, in the face of a competitive Hampshire side, bringing home the Wightlink trophy, for the second year in succession.
The Senior XV travel to the West Country to host the French Navy at the Plymouth Albion RFU ground on Wednesday 22 March KO 1800. Spectators are welcome and tickets are on sale at £5 via the Plymouth Albion website.
Team list: T Jones, H Collins, G Evans, E Pascoe (c), S Makepeace, B Fox, T Trehan, D Fairbrother, C Moore, R Cadywould, E Myers, G Loydall, S Buinimasi, T Notman, R Dimmock-Williams. Replacements: T Hughes, D Taylor, C Robinson, M Harvey, K mason, L cooper, J Basher, N Huntley, D Pascoe, M Bowden, T Kava.
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton and Keith Woodland