London Scottish too strong for Royal Navy U23s
A thoroughly entertaining game of rugby played at United Services Ground in Portsmouth saw the Royal Navy Under 23 team face London Scottish Academy. The game was played at a fast pace and it was the Royal Navy U23s who dominated the territory in the first 20 mins. Poor discipline from the London Scottish team allowed the pressure to build however the Royal Navy U23 were unable to create an opening and turn the territory and possession into points.
The opening score went against the play. London Scottish Academy, having won a scrum on the half way line, followed up with some tidy phases of running rugby, forcing the Royal Navy to concede a penalty at the break down. London Scottish kicked to the corner, won their line out and scored from a driving maul to lead 0-7 after 25 minutes.
The Royal Navy regrouped and once again dominated the territory. They won the ball from the kick off, played some tidy phases utilising their strong forward pack to get over the gain line and Gareth Rees playing at scrum half maintained the pressure with some accurate kicking, pinning the London Scottish in their 22. Frustratingly for the Royal Navy, unforced errors at crucial times handed the possession back to their opponents and London Scottish were able to clear their lines. Just before the half time whistle, London Scottish attacked deep into the Royal Navy territory, kept the ball close and started to apply pressure of their own. However an unforced handling error by London Scottish led to a respite for the Royal Navy. The respite was short lived as a knock-on by the Royal Navy at the back of the scrum led to a London Scottish feed and the Royal Navy conceded a kickable penalty on the stroke of half time. The scoreboard showed 0-10 to the visitors.
The 2nd half started extremely well for the Royal Navy U23s. They regained possession from the kick off, drove forward which resulted in London Scottish being penalized for an infringement at the breakdown. Pleasingly the line out functioned well and a straight forward catch and drive saw the Royal Navy finally force their way over the opposition try line, Ben Watson the scorer. Unfortunately the resulting conversion hit the post but the Royal Navy were on the score card and very much back in the game, 5-10. Straight from the kick off substitute Toby Papp collected the ball and made a 50 metre break, however more unforced handling errors let the opponents off the hook and the Royal Navy were penalised at the set piece. From the penalty, London Scottish pushed the Royal Navy U23 back deep into their 22 and the Royal Navy were unable to stop the catch and drive from the line out and conceded a converted try to trail 5-17.
The U23s quickly regrouped and applied pressure on London Scottish by playing close rugby around the fringes of the breakdown, tying in the defence. Poor discipline at the breakdown led to London Scottish being penalised and the Royal Navy opted to kick to touch. More ill-discipline followed at the line out and some quick thinking and quick feet allowed Rees to take a quick tap from the penalty. London Scottish were too slow to react and Rees went over for the try to make the score 10-17. With 15 minutes to play, London Scottish secured possession and after some neat interplay between their winger and full back, the Royal Navy found themselves having to defend on their own try line. The Royal Navy's defence was solid and after a great turnover by Scott Makepeace, the U23s cleared their lines and took play back into the London Scottish half. With only a few minutes remaining the home side were again on the front foot, looking to level the scores. Their dominance in possession in the London Scottish half was beginning to show as defences tired and more gaps opened up. The U23s tried to capitalise and use the speed they have out wide. Unfortunately London Scottish read a miss pass and intercepted, running in a try under the posts from their own half. Score 10-24. In many teams, heads would have dropped but the Royal Navy U23s showed real mettle. They regained possession from the kick off, applied pressure which paid off, with Joe Burton touching down. The conversion was kicked and the U23s, trailing by 7 points, rushed back to receive the kick off. A tense few minutes followed but the U23s were unable to hold on to possession and ran out of time, the final score was 17-24 to London Scottish Academy.
A close, exciting game of rugby in which the Royal Navy U23 side dominated both possession and territory but were unable to convert it into points. Unfortunately there were too many unforced errors at critical times which ultimately allowed their opponents to clear and regroup.
Team List: Ash Miller, Isaac Salt, Tom Hughes,Hayden Wilkinson, Ben Watson (C), Ben Roberts, Dan Mason, Scott Makepeace, Gareth Rees, Nick Burgess, Gerran Smith, Craig Jones, Corey Pulman, Chris Mills, Rory Penfold, Rory Bonnick, Sam Vernon, Joe Burton, Toby Papp, Harrison Marsh, James Rutherford, Brad Janes, Jack Power.
Army v Navy - Babcock trophy - Twickenham Stadium - Saturday 29th April 2017
Tickets for the 2017 Army v Navy match will go on sale on Tuesday 1st November 2016. The 2017 match will be the 100th Army v Navy match since the formation of the Royal Navy Rugby Union and the Army Rugby Union in 1906. Tickets can be purchased from the 1st November 2016 through the Royal Navy Rugby Union #GoNavy
Words by Tom Westwood
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union/© John Walton