Navy U23s Beat Army U23s
Navy U23 XV
The Navy U23s produced a beautiful performance in the ugliest conditions to out-muscle the Army, 28-12 in their first Inter Services fixture of 2019. With both sides fielding new look squads, this was always going to be an intriguing encounter. Yet the way the young Navy side manged the game and dominated the set piece showed maturity well beyond their years.
The Navy’s defence was well organised from the kick off which frustrated the highly talented Army back line. With ball in hand the Dark Blue were direct and aggressive, with the forwards making hard yards which allowed Man of the Match Jake Hanley to pull the strings.
In the first twenty minutes the Navy were in full control, putting the Army under severe pressure and thoroughly deserved their 9-0 lead. As the weather started to worsen, the Army got into the game, and with their first visit to the Navy’s 22 they scored a well organised try making the half time score 9-5.
As the teams came out for the second half the weather was simply awful. Despite the gale force winds and monsoon like rain, the Navy produced one of the classiest second half performances seen by any Dark Blue side in recent years. Jake Hanley looked a class act. making excellent decisions and kicking accurately out of hand. The pack gained the upper hand and the scrum had total dominance which was rewarded by the referee. This allowed the Navy to keep the scoreboard ticking over, making the score the 15-6 with 60 mins gone. The Army once again showed how ruthless and clinical they can be. With a rare visit into the Navy’s 22 they went over making the score 15-12, setting up a grandstand finish. However, undeterred Hanley and his side got back to work bullying the Army pack and scoring another two penalties making it 21-12, and in the final minutes Royal Marine Barry McClean barrelled over making the full time score 28-12 to the Navy.
“I’m really pleased with the performance. Those conditions were so bad, but the boys totally bossed it. I’m chuffed for Jake Hanley who we moved from 15 to 10, he was class today and the best player out there. I’m also delighted with our scrum, that’s what won us the game. In the second half it did some real damage” said John Court the Navy U23s Head Coach. “We now have to reset and prepare for an excellent RAF side who are always tough at home. This result won’t phase them, they’ll be well up for it”.
“Beating the Army is always special, but they played their part in a gripping match. They’re a great side and they’ll come again, but today was our day” Said Chris Roberts, Director of Navy Rugby.
“Seeing so many youngsters step up is really encouraging for the senior side” said Dave Pascoe. “The U23s is our best source of talent and I can’t wait to work with some of those players. I know how hard it is to beat the Army and they did a great job today.”
The Navy will now travel to RAF Halton on Wednesday 27th November in search of Inter Service glory. They still have a mountain to climb, winning there is never easy, but after such a comprehensive performance they’ll be full of confidence.
1.Ben Illsley, 2. David Scoot, 3. Kai Alton, 4. Robbie McClean, 5. Mashin Aziz, 6. Will Scott, 7. Keaton Leyland-Jones, 8. Paddy McGrath, 9. Josh Belcher, 10. Jake Hanley, 11. Jerome Rudder, 12. Chris Mills, 13. Tom Ridehalgh, 14. Jesse Lowe, 15. Rory Dingemans, 16. Connor Bick, 17. Sam Creak, 18. Tom Lindsay, 19. Matt Scott, 20. Barrie McClean, 21. Kieran Manson, 22. Ben Raivalitia, 23. Jake Wells
Words: Oliver Mason
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Andrews