President's XV travelled to Petersfield for charity fundraising match
RN President's XV
It was a cold, misty evening at Penns Place when the President's XV arrived for their first match of the season to take on Petersfield RFC in a charity fundraiser. Although at times the spectators couldn't see through the fog to make out which side had possession, they were treated to an entertaining match of rugby, enjoyed the excellent hospitality and refreshment organised by Wendy and her Clubhouse team and helped raise £2,200 for the Mayor of Petersfield's charity, Dementia Friends. To top it all, the RNRU President's XV scored 5 tries to win 0 - 27, a great start to the season!
Coming together for the first time, Royal Marine Lieutenant Ben Cook led the RNRU President's team out onto the pitch. The team were selected from a broad range of Ships and establishments, with some familiar faces from the Inter Service winning Under 23 team, including RM Bugler Nick Burgess and RN Reservist Rory Penfold. Plus some rising stars from the Navy Cup finalists, Britannia Royal Naval College, fortunately able to catch a lift with the Head Coach, Lieutenant Sean Hammond, currently serving on the staff at Dartmouth.
Quick to exert pressure, the Navy side dominated the opening five minutes, and after some smooth passing between the backs the ball reached the steady hands of right wing, Penfold, who turned on his trademark speed to cross the line in the corner to put the first score on the board for the visitors, 0 - 5. His U23 team-mate, fly half Burgess, stepped up to kick for the posts but from wide out was unsuccessful. For the next 15 minutes the Navy kept the Petersfield side in their own half, working through the phases but were unable to break through the home side's strong defence. Then the tide turned.
The referee awarded the put in at the scrum to the Navy but the home side were clearly stronger and quickly took charge, gaining ground and controlling the ball. Petersfield had the ball and made steady progress to the half way line. A number of scrums followed, and every time Petersfield were able to demonstrate their superiority, and their hard work paid off when they finally found themselves inside the Navy 22. Now it was the Navy's turn to defend hard. Petersfield spent the second quarter of the game trying to find a hole in the Navy defence, but try as they might, they couldn't spot a gap. The Navy defended well, despite losing one player after the referee showed a yellow card, and held on to their five point lead into the half time break.
When the players returned to the pitch they emerged through the BBQ smoke only to disappear into the fog! The weather conditions weren't improving but the teams wanted to put more points on the board. And the crowd weren't disappointed. In a repeat of the first half the Navy dominated the opening quarter, this time scoring two tries in quick succession. It was the Forwards who managed to get over the line, firstly 2nd row John Kirwan and then prop Sam Vernon. Neither try was converted and the score stood at 0 - 15. Now was the time for Petersfield to re-set the balance, but despite demonstrating their ability to play some free flowing rugby they could not make a break and the majority of the play was in the Navy half. The Navy scrum, after numerous practices, was now performing much better so Petersfield were no longer able to dominate that area of the game.
The fog seemed to be getting thicker but there was still the final quarter to play. In a replay of the first try some slick passing between the backs and a turn of speed from Penfold resulted in his second try of the night and the Navy's fourth of the match, this time Burgess was able to add the extra two points for the conversion, stretching the lead to 0 - 22. The watching crowd doubted the officials would let the match carry on much longer and there was just time for Kieran Heffernan to make up for his earlier yellow card with the final try of the night before play was stopped. The President's XV had won their first outing 0 - 27 but the scoreline definitely did not reflect the quality of the match. The Petersfield team played some great rugby, but couldn't find that bit extra to turn it into points.
Then it was time to retreat to the clubhouse for the raffle and presentation of the charity cheque. Petersfield Club Secretary, Rob Mocatta, was joined by representatives from the RNRU, Dave Wakefield, Sarah Oakley and Ady Cherrington, and Hampshire RFU President, Rick Scott to present the Petersfield Mayor James Deane the cheque for £2,200 for his charity for the year, Petersfield Dementia Friends.
Team List: PO Chris Sprotson, Mne Rory Bonnick, AET Sam Vernon, LS Kieran Heffernan, AB John Kirwan, Mne Callum Macken, ET Colin Chapman, Lt Ben Cook RM (captain), LET Tom Penman, Bug Nick Burgess, Mne Kyle Wood, OC Luke Tupholme, AB(D) Ben Wood, AB Rory Penfold, AB Jackson Acreman, Replacements LMA Sam Winfield, Mid Chris Rees, AB(D) Nick Kavenagh, OC Declan Johnson, Mne Connor Slader, Mne Callum Southgate and LET Alan Bodel.
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union/© Keith Woodland