Muscat Pirates Vs HMS Ocean RFC
Muscat Pirates v HMS Ocean RFC
This was Ocean’s last game in the Middle East and the team wanted to leave on a high before the Ship’s final two games in waters a little closer to home. The team bus arrived to an empty pitch and no club house thirty minutes before kick off, which did not give OCEAN the feeling the game was going to happen at all. However within a blink of an eye, cars and people appeared from everywhere and it wasn’t long before both sides were ready to go.
Ocean kicked off playing from left to right to a Muscat team, playing all in green, who were undefeated this year in their league. The game was extremely fast in the opening twenty minutes with both sides keen to play quick ball at the rucks and play attacking rugby, looking for big ball carriers to punch holes into each others defensive lines. It was Ocean who had the upper hand in this though, with the Muscat back line missing more tackles then they could make and the Muscat back row having to make try-saving tackles to keep Ocean from scoring. Nevertheless it was not long before a quick ball to Ocean’s back line in open play saw fullback LA(AH) Tom Scott link well on the over lap and out pace all covering tackles to slide over in the corner to open the score board with his fourth try of the season for Ocean. This would also be Tom’s last game for the Ship so he stepped up to take his own kick. Unfortunately his kicking boots had already left on draft and his kick went wide of the posts. Muscat 0 - 5 Ocean.
Muscat restarted and made the game very difficult for Ocean’s pack from the first tackle being quicker on the ball than the forwards could clear out, trying to stop the Ocean back line from playing wide, showing the Ocean team that they were not going to let any more tries come from quick ball, fast hands and faster feet. This resulted in a lot of turnovers for the men in green, but still they were unable to break the Ocean line. Ocean regrouped and started to compete at break downs and won a few turnovers themselves. However Muscat were still able to disrupt the pass just enough to stop the quick ball Ocean wanted.
Ocean now decided to take the game to Muscat through the forwards using pods of 3 and ‘pick and gos’ around the break downs. This seem to disrupt the Muscat defence more than quick ball, with the Muscat forwards not quick enough to set guards around the rucks to stop the Ocean pods from making good yards towards the Muscat try line. It wasn’t long before Ocean scrum half LET(ME) Lou Fecci sniped from the line only for the referee to be in a poor view to see if the ball was grounded or not. Cheers of “try” and “no try” from both sides followed and the ball popped up to LA(AH) “Barny” Barnaschone who clearly grounded the ball for Ocean’s second try (also his fourth try for the ship on this deployment). This time ET (ME) Joe Coughlin stepped up to take the kick and coolly sent the ball between the sticks, increasing Ocean’s lead 0- 12.
This display had shown Muscat that Ocean were happy to play the ball through the back line or up the middle with the forwards which clearly unsettled the side in green. It seemed that this Muscat team had not played a team that could match them in the forwards before and did not know what to do next. The game then opened up with Ocean playing a mix of forward and backs rugby interchangeably around the park and the Muscat defence were unable to defend it. Ocean’s next try came from a little bit of individual magic. Fly-half Joe Coughlin took a pass off the back of a ruck in open play and after showing a dummy to the on-coming tackle and skipping around the next tackle, he found himself behind the Muscat line with only the full back to beat. He backed himself and handed the tackle off to dot down over the Muscat line. However his kick hit the posts. 0 - 17 Ocean.
Ocean were now rolling on waves and the Pirates looked dead in the water; with only a few minutes to half time Muscat were making mistake after mistake. In one such error the Muscat scrum-half misjudged a pass to a waiting pod of forwards for it to go behind to the fly-half who was not expecting the ball. As he juggled with the ball to bring it under control Ocean’s Joe Coughlin dashed by to take the ball from him and walk in under the posts for his brace of the night. He keenly stepped up to take the kick and smoothly slotted the ball down the middle. This ended the first half with the impressive scoreline Muscat 0 – 24 Ocean.
In every game there is always a turning point and in this game half time was it. Muscat’s hooker had to leave the field and with no trained replacements on their bench the game looked like it was going to end here. However the referee was a front row player and offered to play if someone else from the side line could referee the game. Luckily a former Army soldier visiting friends stepped up to keep the game alive.
With the game back under way Ocean continued to play the high tempo of rugby as they had finished the first half, and with fresh legs on for the naval side, things didn’t look like they were going to ease up for the home side. Yet Muscat pressed on and attacked the Ocean line hard, and with the home side up to Ocean’s 22 metre line it looked like they weren’t going to give up. As Muscat played the ball while trying to attack, the ball was intercepted by Lt Cdr Tim Lawrenson. It looked like the final nail for the home side as the tall centre’s speed was too much for any defender to catch, right up until he tripped up on thin air in the Muscat 22, and knocked on! This was a big let off for the home side.
After that, it all went the home side’s way. A few 50/50 decisions all went the way of the home side and this sparked some life into the Pirates. A kick into the corner followed by a home side line out, led to the Muscat forwards mauling the ball over the line and under the mass bodies that were everywhere the referee awarded the try to the home side. The conversion that followed was missed from the sideline, Muscat 5 - 25 Ocean. From the restart Muscat were awarded more and more penalties but the Ocean defensive line stood strong. The game continued to play out like this for the majority of the second half with Muscat continuing to attack and Ocean unable to get the right side of the referee to attack.
Muscat were the next to score from a well worked move. As they kicked into the corner following yet another penalty, they won a good lineout and played the ball quickly through their back line. Some great dummy runners running off the ball created an overlap on the outside putting the Muscat centre in the corner. This time the following kick was successful, making the score 12 - 24 to Ocean. The next try came even quicker, a knock on off the restart gave Muscat the put-in at the scrum and with the ball won, simple hands to the Muscat out-side centre, who saw a opening in the Ocean back line, danced past all covering tackles and cruised in under the post for a very impressive individual try. The kick was too easy to miss and this brought the score to 19 - 24, with twenty minutes to go.
The last quarter was pure defence from Ocean, with the whole of the time spent in Ocean’s 22. However the sailors seemed to enjoy the challenge that was put in front of them and put in tackle after tackle and did not give a single penalty away for the remainder of the game. With the clock counting down, the Pirates gave everything to press Ocean to breaking point however it never came. The more Muscat threw at Ocean the more Ocean’s defence stood strong, right up until the final play of the game. Muscat was awarded a penalty five metres out from Ocean’s try line, and were told there was no time for a lineout. As the big Muscat pack tapped the ball Ocean’s forwards charged into them with an almighty crash refusing to let the win slip away. In the maul that followed Ocean came away with the ball and quick thinking from scrum-half Lou Fecci, kicked the ball off the field to end the game, Muscat 19 - 24 Ocean.
Ocean’s Team List: Barlow, Barnaschone, Laycock, Johnson, Bourne, Ellor, Jones, Matanatabu (c), Fecci, Coughlin, Woods, Carhart, Faulkner, Baisden, Scott. Replacements: Prendergast, Lawrenson, Stigle, Wood, Standish, Haywood.
Team Mangers – Corporal Roberts / Marine Christians
Ocean’s team captain, Tom Matanatabu, said “This was a hard game, and very physical throughout. But the lads dug deep in the last twenty minutes and I am so proud of them all.”
Ocean’s Director of Rugby Barny added “It really was a game of two halves, and it didn’t matter things went against us. Rightly or wrongly we showed that if you keep your cool and just play what’s in front of you, you can still come away with the win.”
Man of the Match went to NA (AH) Tom Matanatabu
HMS Ocean would like to thank Muscat Pirates for putting on this game for us and hosting the team in good style. Also Ocean Rugby would like to thank and send their best wishes to a few players that are leaving the team. LA (AH) Tom Scott played his last game for the team after three years of service to the Ship and team. Tom would often be found either on 5 deck looking for new players, getting a training session together or e-mailing teams wherever Ocean went looking for matches. A lead try scorer for the side his boots will be hard to fill. Also from COMATG staff Captain Chris McArdle and Lieutenant Stu Lewis, who both brought a lot of experience that at times was very much needed and showed a real passion for the team to do well. We thank you all.
Tries (4) – Scott, Barnaschone, Coughlin (2)
Cons (3) – Coughlin (2)
Words by Cinders Ellor