Inverdale Challenge Round 1 - RN West v RN North
RN West v RN North
The first match of the Inverdale Challenge Cup saw a clash between the Royal Navy’s Northern Region and Western Region teams at the Rectory in Devonport, some 510 miles from the Scottish based team's home. The aim of the Inverdale Challenge is to provide a competitive Rugby competition at a Regional level exposing players to a higher standard of rugby than is played at Unit level, thus creating a players’ playing pathway from the community to the representative level. This also provides an opportunity for representative team management to look at players in a competitive environment for possible selection for the Royal Navy Rugby Union representative teams.
The match began on an overcast yet warm afternoon. RN West elected to kick and sent the opening kick high and short. RN North caught the kick and the match was underway. There was some excitement early on as RN North gave away a penalty in the 4th minute on their 22 metre line. RN West decided to attempt a penalty kick. Unfortunately the kick went wide.
After a line-out in the West half, North were back in the game with some momentum behind them. Quick decisions (and quicker feet!) from the North Team Captain Marine ‘Jez’ Parsons lead to the first try of the match. The kick was converted bringing the score to 0 - 7. RN North were hunting for a second try with several breakthroughs of the Western defence. However, a knock-on quickly slowed their progress. After some good defending and attacking by RN West their first try of the match was scored (however not converted) bringing the score to a close 5 - 7. From the restart the Western Region were soon awarded a penalty near the Northern Region's 22. They decided to go for the penalty kick but it went wide. RN North then received a penalty in the RN West half and it was now their turn to kick for points. The ball was expertly slotted between the posts and the RN North lead stretched to 5 - 10. It now appeared that the Northern side had dominance. RN West attempted to overturn this dominance with various aggressive drives for the try line. The first was expertly held up. However, after several more efforts RN West managed to break the RN North’ s battered defence and were able to cross the line and score a try; which was swiftly converted. The home side took the lead 12 - 10 as the referee blew the whistle for half time.
As the second half began the Royal Navy Northern Region were beginning to feel the pressure of the Western region’s slight but important 2 point lead. The first phase of the second half can be described as well-matched play which saw a vast array of penalties being awarded against either side. RN West eventually ended this deadlock with a break on the Northern Region’s 22 which ended in a try and a subsequent conversion. RN West had extended their lead 19 - 10. RN North then looked to claw back their lead after a scrum and a turnover on the opposition's 22. However, a knock-on on the 5 metre-line soon ended their chances of a try. RN West responded and progressed into the Northern Region's half culminating in a line-out on their opposition's 22.
An aggressive maul pushed the ball over the try line and with that the RN West team had scored their third try. With the conversion RN North faced a daunting score of 26 - 10 to try to get back in the game. However the final whistle soon ended all hopes for the away team to reclaim their early lead.
The Royal Navy Northern team played admirably securing an early lead against a proficient opposition. However, a few basic technical errors and a distinct away disadvantage led to the ultimate loss of the match. The RN North team is looking forward to their next match determined to improve on the areas highlighted by the game against Royal Navy Western team, and this time they will have the home advantage. Their next game is against the Royal Marines on Wed 1 Nov at Helensburgh RFC.
Words by W Dawson
Images RNRU © Mark Andrews