Marine Nationale Rock Royal Navy with Second Half Onslaught
RN Senior XV
A pulsating first half saw the Royal Navy reach half time 19-13 up through a Ben Priddey try and four Jon Humphrey penalties. However a nervy start to the second half gave Marine Nationale fly half, Anon, the opportunity to put them ahead through kicks at goal before the win was secured through Perez’s late try.
For the opening minutes of this game the defence by both sides was intense and there was little space to move. The Royal Navy started the game the brighter, playing with the wind, and forced the Marine Nationale to concede penalties. Jon Humphrey was as accurate as ever and put the home side in to an early 6-0 lead.
At this stage it was the Royal Navy pack that was on top but Marine Nationale were showing glimpses of their threat around the fringes with captain Magnoni always looking to snipe through a gap. It was just one such break that put the Royal Navy under pressure. Then, from a French lineout, the maul was collapsed and suddenly for the first time in the game the Royal Navy were under a little pressure. Another penalty and another lineout gave them the platform and from a couple of close range drives it was eventually their tight head prop Michelle who crossed for the opening try. Fly half Anon landed the conversion and Marine Nationale, playing in to the wind was 7-6 in front.
The Royal Navy were soon back on the front foot. They had established a degree of superiority at the scrum and Johnny Stephen and Nathan Huntley were providing good attacking variations to keep the Marine Nationale on the back foot. They probably deserved more than the solitary penalty but the lead was regained 9-7. However, as is so often the case, a soft penalty from the restart meant the lead was short liven as Anon made it two from two to once more put the visitors ahead, 10-9.
The set back galvanised the Royal Navy and for the remaining fifteen minutes of the half they played their best rugby. Their driving maul was causing the Marine Nationale all sorts of problems and Tichias and Davies were making strong runs through the middle. As they kept the Marine Nationale penned in their own twenty two the pressure kept mounting and it was eventually from a free kick that Matt Harvey powered towards the line. Held just short, Stephen brought the play back and Ben Priddey was driven over by Kyle Mason to regain the lead. Jon Humphrey was successful with a tricky conversion and once more the home team were in front 16-9.
This time there were no mistakes from the restart and Nathan Huntley kicked for territory and put the pressure back on the Marine Nationale. They did well to work their way back up field but could not hold on to possession and the Royal Navy had the ball with half time approaching. With the final play of the half the Marine Nationale were forced to concede yet another penalty and Jon Humphrey landed a 50m effort from half way to give his side a 19-13 half time lead.
What ever was said in the French changing room at half time certainly worked. From the restart they lifted the pace of their game and seemed to catch the Royal Navy napping. With some lack of composure from the home team defence the Marine Nationale visibly grew in confidence. It was now the turn of the Royal Navy to concede the penalties and in short order Anon had landed three kicks at goal to regain the lead 22-19 with twenty five minutes still to go.
At long last a Royal Navy response and they were soon back on the front foot pressing for another score. The Marine Nationale infringed, the RN kicked to the corner, another infringement. Again the kick to the corner. Next time the referee despatched the Marine Nationale replacement flanker, Ravenello, to the sin bin and again the Royal Navy went to the corner. A felt like a pivotal moment of the game. A score could give the momentum back to the Royal Navy and possibly break the French bravado. However the ball was lost in the middle of the line. Magnoni cleared his lines and from a subsequent penalty Anon kicked the ball long down field. On such small margins games are often won or lost. A couple more penalties conceded by the Royal Navy allowed Anon to extend the lead to 28-19 meaning that the Royal Navy had to score twice.
The Royal Navy certainly gave it a good shot but with the ability to clear down field with long kicks it was always going to be a tall order. Jon Humphrey countered well from the back and the forwards kept their work rate high right to the final whistle. That they got to within 5m of the Marine Nationale goal line was a credit to their resolve but the turnover gave the Marine Nationale the opportunity to counter attack. Plazy was set free down the right wing, and from the resulting recycled ball Perez was on hand to score the cruellest of tires and take the game beyond the home team 33-19.
For the Marine Nationale a first away win and one that they will undoubtedly celebrate late in to the night. For the Royal Navy a harsh lesson to be learnt before they travel to RAF Halton. For much of this game they were the equal of the Marine Nationale and could have been in a position to win the game. However a lack of composure for fifteen minutes after half time was probably the difference. The loss of Marsh Cormack, early on, may have contributed, as sometimes you just need the older head to steady the ship, ride out the Marine Nationale storm and get back on track. A couple of weeks time it is the start of the Inter Services and an opening away fixture against the Royal Air Force. The Royal Navy will no doubt regroup quickly and face the challenge head on.
Royal Navy: Mason *, Priddey (Capt) *, Terry *, Harvey *, Cormack *, Puleston, Raumakita *, Fairbrother *, Stephen *, Huntley *, Welling *, Tichias *, S Davies *, Marlin *, Humphrey *
Reps: Collins *, Beasley *, Blackburn *, Pascoe, Cowley *, Jones, Buinimasi *, T Davies *,
Marine Nationale: Robin, Bouchlagem, Michelle, Fernandes, Braendlin, Somnica, Kornath, Garcia, Magnani, Anon, Peachaud, Larrant, Etcheveny, Plazy, Benassis
Reps: Gallego, Perez, Sardella, Guyonnet, Ravanello, Houcade, Peckre, Haouas
Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & © Lee Crabb