Navy’s Future Shines Bright in Combined Services U23 Warm Up
Ealing Trailfinders Academy
The Combined Services U23s recorded an impressive 34-7 victory over Ealing Trailfinders Academy as the squad had its first get together prior to their Twickenham date against the combined University side from Oxford and Cambridge on 9 May. The result was all the better with the impressive showing of the Royal Navy contingent who acquitted themselves well.
The heartbeat of the side was provided by Royal Navy scrum half Calum Cone who set the tempo for the afternoon and, particularly in the first half, kept Combined Services on the front foot. As ever his darts around the fringes kept the Ealing backrow honest, whilst his quick fire service gave the back line precious time to look for the gaps in the Ealing defence. With Jordan Shuttleworth unavailable due to injury, the scrap for the number 9 jersey may well be an all Navy affair from two players who are sure to feature in the Royal Navy shirt for some years to come.
Cone’s game was assisted by a Combined Services pack that gelled quickly at scrum time to provide a rock solid platform from which to build their game. Chris McDonald and Tristan Trehan produced trademark performances that included powerful ball carries and a huge workload in defence. However even they had to take second place to Royal Navy lock Joe Burton who was the stand out forward on the pitch. Like Trehan and McDonald, Burton’s ball carrying regularly knocked big holes in the Ealing defence and allowed Cone to play of the front foot.
The regular ‘go forward’ from the CS pack allowed strong running centre Sam Benzie to enjoy his afternoon where his clever angles repeatedly split the Ealing defence. And when he wasn’t splitting them in attack some of his bone shuddering tackles splintered the Ealing players whenever they tried to attack down his channel.
Sam was playing outside Greg Loydall who moved from centre to fly half as the game progressed. Greg delivered another accomplished match and though he doesn’t often make the headlines his sound game management is frequnetly the reason why others around him stand out,
Of course it is still along way from Twickenham but those who can drag themselves in to the stadium that little be earlier will see a 2015 Combined Services side capable of some very entertaining rugby with the Navy contingent at the very heart beat of the team.
Combined Service U23 XV v Oxbridge U23 XV – 9 May 2015 KO 12:30. Have you bought your Army v Navy ticket yet?
Image Credits: Alligin Photography / © John Walton