Navy Start Slowly as Cambridge Complete Season in Style


RN Senior XV


Cambridge University RFC

Kai Baker makes an early break but the Navy were unable to captilise on their half chances
Jordan Gott struggles to find any space as he is closed down by Cambridge University defenders
An early Navy penalty gave them a 3-0 lead but Cambridge University were to bounce straight back
Dec Johnson takes route 1 as the Navy look to get on the front foot.
Alex Peterson clears the ball from the ruck
Ben Jeacock in heavy traffic as the Navy struggled to sustain pressure

Cambridge University completed their season in style with their 10th consecutive win, a sweep of all three Service sides and a 36-15 win over the Royal Navy.  The Navy showed some good creativity in their opening match but as may be expected made too many unforced errors.  Henry Hughes and Elliot Woodhead scored the Royal Navy tries.

Cambridge University winger, Fergus Jumphrey completed the game with a hattrick of tries as the students ran in six tries to complete a winning streak of ten games.  Cohesion and teamwork shone through from the Varsity Match winners who had previously beaten both the Royal Air Force and British Army.  By contrast a young, inexperienced Royal Navy team, were setting out on their season’s journey which will take them to Toulon, the Twickenham Stoop and finally Twickenham.  It is therefore far too early to make judgement and is important to look behind the 36-15 losing score.

The first two matches of this Royal Navy season were always going to be developmental with far more changes than normal and also with some key experienced players missing from the Navy blue shirt.  However, for those that wear the jersey, they carry a responsibility whatever their age or experience.  It was therefore pleasing that the side looked to play some enterprising and positive rugby and most importantly were creating chances.  A little more composure, a few improved decisions and the chances may have led to pressure being sustained for longer.  From pressure comes scores and when the team review their performance over the next couple of days they will no doubt acknowledge that there were a few points that went missing at Grange Road.  Something to focus on this week before the challenge of Esher next Wednesday.

It was the Navy who opened the scoring through a penalty by Jordan Gott.  But, from the restart, they conceded possession too easily and allowed Cambridge to bounce straight back through their opening try by Jumphrey.  Joey Gatus and Tom Watson added further tries before half time with Mike Phillips converting Gatus’s try.  17-3 behind at halftime was a little harsh to the Royal Navy side but will serve as a reminder that opportunities have to be taken at this level of rugby.

Cambridge University were to score their 4th try quickly following the restart, this time from close range with their forwards taking charge as they drove the Navy back and over their line.  The Navy needed an immediate response if the game wasn’t to be taken from them and they deserved their opening try through Henry Hughes.  The Surgeon Lieutenant is well known to Navy supporters having been named man of the match in 2013 when playing against the Navy for Oxford University.  As a Dark Blue man, now in more ways than one, he will have enjoyed the score against the Light Blues but will surely be targeting new Light Blue opposition in April at the Stoop.

The Royal Navy needed to build on this score but were unable to do so and were dealt a hammer blow to their chances when Jumphrey crossed twice in quick succession to score his 2nd and 3rd tries.  With only one being converted Cambridge University held a commanding 36-8 lead with time running out fast on the clock.  Once more the Navy team showed resilience to not let up and kept pressing for a second score and deservedly crossed for their second and the final try of the match through replacement Elliot Woodhead.

It is a long journey back for the Navy team to their training base, giving them plenty of time to ponder before the formal match review.  First and foremost, they need to take some of the positives.  A young side producing some great, exciting rugby.  But.  Yes there is always a but.  The team will be all too aware that moments of brilliance need to be joined up.  There needs to be glue to keep moves driving forwards.   Continuity and controlling precious possession will take this side a big step forward.  The wide fast pitch at Esher would be a good place to start.

Starting XV: ET(ME) Dom Cleverley, LA(AH) Ethan Barnaschone, AB(SEA) Kai Allton, AET Hayden Wilkinson, LS(HM) John Kirwan *, MNE Will Scott, MNE Rory Bonnick, S/Lt Declan Johnson RN *, MNE Alex Petersen, AET Dan Rutter, L/Cpl Troy Gobey, MNE Setareki Raumakita * (Capt) , MNE Kai Baker, MNE Henry Glidden, AET Jordan Gott

Replacements (all used): PO(CIS) Kristian Norish, LET(ME) Liam Williams, OC David Scoot, S/Lt James Holt RN, AB(EW) Tam Lindsay, Lt Joe Martin RM, AB(UW) Adam White, AB(SC) Timoci Kava *, Bugler Nick Burgess, S/Lt Elliot Woodhead, AB (AWW) Jake Hanley, ET(ME) Gavin Duffy, AET Chris Mills, LAET(M) Sam Carter, LH(AWT) Ben Jeacock, Surg Lt Henry Hughes RN AB(SC)  Sam Matavesi *

* - -Denotes capped player

Next matches on Wednesday 19 February 2020

Royal Navy Women v British Police, RNAS Yeovilton KO 19:00
Royal Navy Men v Esher, Esher RFC KO 19:30

By line: Geraint Ashton Jones
Image credit: © Cat Goryn