Is the Tide Turning for RN North?
Inverdale Challenge Round 2
RN North v RN East
From dreich to downpour this match was played in incessant rain on a pitch whose lush grass obscured the amount of surface water that was standing. That the two teams produced so much rugby was a credit to both sides. RN North’s all round game saw them ease out to a 23 – 3 lead but with RN East’s pack dominating most of the second half the game was on a knife edge until Sam Tyrer’s second try secured the game for the home side, 28-18.
Apart from a couple of forays by RN East’s backline the first quarter was controlled by RN North. Time and time again their hard working forwards punched the ball up as the rain dictated a limited game plan. However, they were also happy, when appropriate to move the ball a little wider and it was on one such occasion that their lively right-winger, ET Sam Tyrer (HMS Victorious), was set free for the opening score. Diver Wood (Northern Diving Group) missed the conversion but was successful shortly afterwards with a more difficult penalty, awarded following a high tackle. RN North 8 RN East 0.
Pressing home their advantage RN North kept on the attack and the weather meant that the game was being punctuated by scrums. It was from a seemingly innocuous scrum near the half way line that RN North Number 8, Lt Jack Tindle (HMS Astute), was given far too much room and burst clear for a 40m gallop. Though RN East’s cover defence halted him short of the line, a simple inside ball found scrum half Mne Southgate (43 Cdo RM), backing up, and he crossed for the simplest of touch downs.
RN East needed to score next to get a toe hold in the game and they mounted a number of promising attacks. However, with the ball spilled in midfield RN North were able to turnover possession and their left wing broke clear and should have scored in the corner. Fearing he was going to be caught he checked inside and unselfishly gave the simple pass for Tindle to cross for the third try. With neither converted RN North had extended their lead 18-0.
A midfield offside finally gave RN East the opportunity to get on the score board and HMS Diamond’s SLt Gray didn’t disappoint as he sent this kick through the centre of the posts. The score lifted RN East and they finished the half the more strongly including working centre AB Ratucoko (HMNB) in for the try right on half time. RN East regrouped for half time and must have regretted the earlier lapse that had allowed Wood to break free from another mid field scrum for the bonus point try and allowed RN North a healthy 23-10 half time lead.
The second half was a much more dogged affair as the water laden pitched was sapping the energy out of the legs of both teams. With neither side able to easily get the ball out beyond their fly halves it was down to the RN East pack to seize the initiative. Now clearly dominant in the scrum they were also punishing RN North with an effective mauling game that regularly took them 15 or 20m up field. It was from one such maul that the Royal Marines School of Music’s George Gissing broke clear to cross for the try from 5m out. Though the conversion was missed another successful Gray penalty had brought the game back to a single score with RN East trailing 23-18.
Again RN East were on the attack and looking to squeeze the will from the RN North side. In the past RN North may well have crumbled but having deservedly opened up their first half lead they were determined to defend it. Bodies were thrown in to the defence and despite conceding a number of penalties RN East were unable to get the important score.
With time running out RN East redoubled their efforts and were making few mistakes in what were now atrocious conditions. However eventually they did mishandle and a long downfield kick allowed RN North a rare foray in to RN East’s half. A RN East scrum was secure but the ball back to flyhalf Gissing was miss directed and suddenly RN North had a 5m scrum. Though they could not get the push over they remained patient and after a number of drives released the ball where Tyrer crossed for his second and the match winning score.
Overall a cracking game of Inverdale Challenge rugby played in the most testing of conditions. RN East probably thought, with 15 minutes to go, that they would be able to overhaul RN North. However, RN North showed resilience and no little skill that may well make them troublesome opponents in this year’s competition. Final score RN North 28 RN East 8
RN North: Chesney, Hughes, Peacock, Lasley, Bolam, Williams, Henty, Tindle, Southgate, Stannard, Tyrer, Wood, Smith, Wain, Jones Reps: Cartwright-Taylor, Osbourne, Summerfield, Milne, Flynn, Johnston, Boyle
RN East: Sproston, Peace, Seci, Hodgson, Veale, Locke, Kerry, Frogley, Dawson, Gissing, Hardy, Gray, Ratucoko, Danuibau, Benzie. Reps Eynon, Murphy, Ratcliffe, Turner
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones