One from One - Devonport Services Vets v RN Mariners match report
The RN Mariners started the preparation for defending their Inter Services Crown with a hard fought victory over Devonport Services RFC Vets at The Keyham 3G Pitch in Devonport, Plymouth. Although a victory, at times they lacked their killer instinct and finesse and would have walked away content with the result but frustrated knowing the margin could have been a lot greater if not for some simple mistakes in their play and decision making at key times during the game.
The RN exerted their dominance on the game immediately from the kick off, forcing Services to defend from deep and fight their way out of their Red Zone on numerous occasions in the opening 10 minutes. The RN controlled the scrums from the early stages of the game but could not capitalise on their possession or pressure. The first 20 minutes remained scoreless with the RN spurning a couple of 3 on 1 chances which should have resulted in scores, much to the frustration of the crowd. Looking on from the sideline you wouldn’t have thought this was a Veterans fixture, it was played with pace and power and at times the players looked as if they had turned the clocks back 15 years. Clearly both teams were eager to draw first blood and with their enthusiasm came simple errors and numerous penalties from both teams. It was not until 25 minutes into the half that the first score was recored, this came from the boot of Dean Fentum after Services were penalised in the breakdown, he converted the resulting penalty and they took a slender 0 - 3 lead with 15 minutes of the half remaining. Services continued to absorb the RN pressure but eventually they broke and the remainder of the half belonged to Fentum after he converted his own try and kicked another penalty just before the end of the half. The try came after Paddy Gore broke from deep within his own 22 and charged 60 metres, avoiding all attempted tackles and stepping one or two more, after he was finally brought down the RN worked through the phases and Fentum picked a great line to put down under the posts. The Half Time Score, Services 0 - RN Mariners 13.
But for wrong decisions, handling errors and some great defending the score could have been a lot more at the interval. Having had their first game against Torpoint cancelled due to faulty flood lights the Mariners were playing with gusto but at times their impatience was their downfall, especially in the Services Red Zone and at times around the breakdown. They made changes at half time and ran out ready for the second half.
The first 10 minutes of the second half saw the game pick up where it left off with the RN in full control, as in the first half Services held their lines and nulified any attacks that came their way. However the RN lost their discipline as the half went on and were penalised several times which gave Services the opportunity to capitalise. After 20 minutes the referee had lost patience and called the Captain over to say they were on their last warning. Soon after Services managed a try of their own, the ball came off the top of the lineout and the Scrum Half worked the ball to Steve Hodge who stepped inside the Full Back to touch down. The conversion was missed but the score was now 5-13 with a quarter of the game remaining. The RN continued their ill discipline and, having being previously warned, Brian 'Yoda' Milford was sent to the bin for going in at the side and the RN were forced to see out 10 minutes a man down. After a lengthy delay in play due to some injuries sustained to both players in a mid air collision the RN caught Services on the back foot and totally against the run of play managed to work the ball out wide to John Skinner to touch down in the corner and take the wind out of Services' sails. Fentum missed the conversion but the score had increased to 5 -18 and the match was slowly slipping away from a Services team that was rapidly tiring. The RN got their second wind and almost immediately after Skinner's try Steve Hillman picked up off the back of the scrum 20 metres out and charged forward, he showed for the pass, dummied and rode a tackle to run in and score with less than 10 minutes on the clock, Fentum converted and took the score to 5 - 25. In the dying stages the RN managed to heap more misery on a Services' side that had held strong for the majority of the game, Shayne 'Canada' Clark, a second half replacement, broke through to score and put the game out of reach of the tired and depleted Services' team. Fentum scored the conversion and with 5 minutes to go the score was 5 - 32 and that is how it stayed until the referee bought the game to a close.
The RN can take a lot of positives from this fixture, it was their first game leading up to their Inter Services defence and with some new faces added to the team they are finding their rhythm. Going into the second game vs Havant on Wed 24 Feb 16 in Portsmouth they will surely aim to be more clinical in their opponents Red Zone and instil more discipline in the breakdown to drastically reduce their penalty count. Credit to Devonport Services, they showed their maturity and experience on numerous occasions during the game and proved worthy opponents for the Mariners in their opening fixture. 'One from One' for the Mariners, onwards and upwards they go in their defence.
1. Lister, 2. England, 3. Buckley, 4. Thurston, 5. Little, 6. Milford, 7. Pallet, 8. Hillman, 9. Gore, 10. Mardle, 11. Daku, 12. Fentum, 13. Wood, 14. Campbell-Baldwin, 15. Sayer, 16. Clark, 17. Clarke, 18. Croft, 19. Clark.
Article by LPT Samual Sims
Images by Alligin Photography / © Mark Andrews