Mariners continue good form against Heron
The Royal Navy Rugby Union Mariners continued their Inter Service 2018 campaign with a game against a younger, well drilled HMS Heron RFC, on a damp, blustery afternoon at RNAS Yeovilton. A strong turnout from forwards wanting to cement their place in the squad allowed the Forwards' coach to make a few changes throughout the game to test his squad.
HMS Heron showed they meant business from the kick off. A poor scrum by the Mariners allowed Heron number 12 (Bill Evans) to chip through and score within the first 2 minutes. The conversion was added whilst the Mariners' Captain regrouped his men.
The Mariners came back with more determination, settled and having taken on board the Captain's words. They were awarded a penalty and decided to kick to the corner. The resulting lineout was lost and during some intense tackling Matt Thurston (5) was injured and replaced by Pederby. Heron tested the Mariners' defence continually, however, line speed, something the team have worked on, worked well and disrupted Heron's play.
It took until just before the half hour for the Mariners to break through the Heron defence and after a period of sustained pressure and good hands, a team try was finished off in the left hand corner by Nige West.(6). The conversion went wide. Score Heron 7 - 5 Mariners
A full change to the front row at 30 mins saw Mickey Lister, Rob Jones and JC replaced by Taff Moult, Richie England and Jan Geldard. With the Mariners playing into the wind, they kept the ball in hand which allowed Ollie James (12) and Sabs Saberton (15) to show pace and line breaks running the ball back. However last ditch tackling from the Heron team made it hard for the Mariners to get out of their own half.
Whilst jogging backwards and repositioning on the right wing, clear of any action, Dave Wilcocks, (11) appeared to be shot by a hidden sniper and fell backwards (much to the amusement of the spectators). This was the result of a tweak to the hamstring and at 35 minutes he was replaced by Dan Lockey.
After contesting play in the middle of park by both teams, Heron kicked down field straight into the hands of a well-positioned Saberton (15) who returned the kick. This was followed up with Mariners' pressure and resulted in Dean Fentum (14) scoring in the left corner, again the conversion was missed. Going into the break the scoreboard read Heron 7 - Mariners 10.
Early pressure from the kick off resulted in a penalty to the Mariners. Kicking into the corner and some following hard work eventually saw Taff Moult (1) rumble over the line from 5 metres to score. The third conversion also went wide.
The Mariners were gaining momentum and began to dominate in attack with breaks by Mardle (10), Thompson (8) and James (12) however knock-ons and errors in the final passes killed many of the attacks. At 51 minutes a change in the backs saw Mel Melhuish (9) given a break and Sabs Saberton move to scrum half. Andy Vance, returning from injury, came on at full back and he quickly started directing things. With the Mariners pressing forward a missed pass was picked up by Heron's winger and a good break was made, only stopped by some hard working defence.
As the final quarter commenced the final change to the front row occurred with Rob Cozens, Knocker White and Dixie Dean entering the fray and Scouse Kewn replaced Nige West in the back row.
Heron pushed forward testing the Mariners defence; this held Heron under their posts for a sustained period with excellent resolve and good discipline from the Mariners. Then a resulting error by Heron allowed James to make a break from inside his 22 and a good off load to Saberton made extras yards down field. Further interplay and good lines allowed Vance to get on the score sheet three minutes before the final whistle.
There was still time for another Mariner's scrum inside Heron's half and Fentum made a good break down the wing but was stopped just short of the line. The final score was Heron 7 - Mariners 20.
Reflecting on the game, Head Coach, Paul Clark, said he was pleased with the result and the commitment of the squad. There some areas for the team to work on, including kicking the conversion, but on the whole some real positives to take away from the game.
The Mariners will be in action again on 21 February at United Services Sport Ground, Portsmouth when they take on Havant RFC. Kick off 1915. Entry is free and all are welcome.
1. John Court
2. Rob Jones
3. Mickey Lister
4. Stan Mortensen
5. Matt Thurston
6. Nige West
7. Brian Stokes
9. Mel Melhuish
10. Ben Mardle
11. Dave Wilcocks
12. Ollie James
14. Dean Fentum
Dan Lockey, Al Pederby, Taff Moult, Richie England, Jan Geldard, Mel Melhish, Scouse Kewn, Andy Vance, Rob Cozens, Knocker White, Dixie Deane.