Mariners Pile on the Points against Torpoint
Royal Navy Mariners
Torpoint RFC Veterans
The Mariners needed a fillip after they were unable to close out the game against the stalwarts of Devonport Services the previous week. The performance against Torpoint RFC exceeded expectations particularly as the coaches were willing to risk cohesion and continuity by rotating the squad to try out different combinations.
Mariners’ team captain, Stan Mortensen, when asked what the team took from the match, said, “I think we can take confidence in our progress from the previous game especially in our defensive systems. There are always things that we can work on but looking forward to the next game we are in a strong position. Also, with the amount of new players that are turning up week in week out, it’s showing that competition for places in the Inter Service campaign is going to be fierce!”
A strong starting line-up flew out of the blocks with the clear intention of working the offload and breaking the game line. Strong running by the forwards, including newcomer Matt Smith and the steadfast England close in and Boyce and Satala, pairing up for the first time in the centres. Darting through the emerging gaps highlighted the flair and expression that was prominent throughout. Where the team stumbled was in their over-exuberance and in their decision making – an extra two yards was often chosen instead of using the overlap created by the incisive lines of running.
Tries came thick and fast in the first half with it ending 33-0 to the Navy; the first was scored by fullback Andy Vance after a prolonged period keeping Torpoint in their own half. The coaches pushed for line speed in defence and they were not disappointed though some tackles fell off against the Torpoint strike runners at 8 and inside centre. Boyce quickly followed up with a try of his own after a training paddock backs move paid off.
Incentivised, the Torpoint pack drove the ball up the middle of the park sucking in defenders and with a rare bit of space, capitalised on an overlap. But for a try line tackle from Matt Phillips they certainly would have scored. After clearing the bodies out from the breakdown the referee determined that Phillips didn’t do enough to roll and he was rewarded with a 10 minute rest in the bin.
Coming on in the centre Val and Fentum stamped their mark on proceedings with Val scoring the first of his three tries throwing off would be tacklers. Running like a centre Smith took the ball off fly-half Mardle to crash through the 10 channel to score under the posts. To add insult to injury with half time fast approaching, Val added one more sparking the imagination that a cricket score could be in the offing.
The Mariners made further changes for the second half. Seizing the initiative and testament to a resolute Torpoint, they took their opportunities when they arose and either side of Val’s third try they posted two scores with well worked phase play as the forwards produced clean off loads and strong ground work. To the Mariners’ credit it was difficult to defend (though Stokes with his 13 tackle count did try his utmost) against the momentum that Torpoint generated and they dug deep to keep them out for so long.
Three unanswered Navy tries followed with Phillips cutting inside after shrugging off two choke tackles; Croft showed a clean pair of heels after a round the back pass from Boyce and then Croft turned provider to give Sayer, having his first run out at scrum half for the Mariners, a relatively straight forward run in. Sharing the kicking duties, conversions were added by Satala and Fentum throughout. The match finished 57-10 with clinical finishing and strong defensive patterns on show.
Keen to exercise an out-plan in their own 22, the Mariners only achieved this accurately twice as there was comparatively little pressure and space beckoned across the park. Against a better drilled side the team will have to make sure that that part of the game plan is adhered to.
Paul Clark, Head Coach for the Mariners, described the match as “…a very satisfying win from a coach's point of view as there was a great deal of things that went well for us and a number of things still to work on. It was great to secure such a good win after last week’s narrow defeat in the last few minutes against Devonport Services. We have now managed to see the majority of players who have put their hands up for selection and it is a nice but tough problem to see the strength in depth we have to choose from.”
He went on to say, “The game was played at a higher tempo than the last game mainly due to the 4G surface and it was pleasing to see that we can play an open game as well as a forward oriented battle to suit both the playing conditions and the opposition. We have some tough games to come but the season is looking good if we can keep all the lads both healthy and available.”
Team List: Geldard, England, Jones; Smith, Pollard; Mortensen (c), Hillman, Seraki; Melhuish, Mardle; Dax, Satala, Boyce, Phillips, Vance.
Replacements: Milford, Stokes, Bainitabaua, Taubale, Fentum, Sayer, Campbell-Baldwin, Val, Croft.
Officials (Royal Navy): Dunx McClement (Referee), Dave Prentice and Martyn Walker (Assistant Referees)
Words by J Campbell-Baldwin
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Andrews