Record breaking Royal Navy retain U23 Title
RN U23 XV
The final match of U23 Inter service competition was contested on a cold November evening at Burnaby Road. With both the Army and the Navy having already beaten the RAF, this match would decide who would win the competition. The Navy were competing to win the trophy for a record breaking third successive year, whilst the Army were looking to cause an upset.
In the first quarter the teams were evenly matched. Both sides made handling errors and conceded a number of penalties, although within 7 minutes the Navy had to mount a resilient defence to prevent the Army from scoring the first try of the match. The Navy’s first opportunity to get onto the scoreboard was as a result of a penalty from the half way line, however although the penalty kick had the range, it did not go over the posts. A second penalty attempt on goal followed a few minutes later and again missed. With both sides conceding penalties, it was only a matter of time before a card was awarded and at 28 minutes Gareth Rees was awarded a yellow card. With the watching crowd now expecting the Army to take full advantage of a reduced Navy side, ill-discipline resulted in another penalty against the Army. Full back, Jackson Acreman was able to successfully kick for goal, breaking the stalemate and giving the Navy a 3-0 lead. At the restart the Army mounted a determined attack that was halted when Gnr Richards was tackled into touch. The Navy mounted a strong attack from the lineout, which was stopped following a high tackle. This penalty was once again within range of the boot of Jackson Ackerman and the Navy now held a 6-0 lead. The Navy were able to mount a strong attack following the restart and following another penalty, the Navy made a decision to kick for touch. Winning the lineout, the Navy mounted a fierce attack and crossed the goal line. The ball was held up and a scrum formed on the 5 metre line. A strong drive by the forwards resulted in the first try of the match by Dan Mason. Jackson Ackerman converted this and the Navy led by 13-0, as the half time whistle blew.
The second half began with the Army applying continued pressure on the Navy defence. Sig Davetanivalu scored the Army’s first try, which was converted by Spr Mercer, resulting in a score of 13-7. Within minutes both sides had once again conceded penalties, however Jackson Ackerman again scored extending the Navy’s lead to 16-7. The match remained evenly balanced until the final 10 minutes. A determined Army attack led to a second try, which was not converted for the Army. The Army conceded yet another penalty after the restart, which Jackson Ackerman again converted into 3 points. With only minutes of the game left and the score 19-12, the Army refused to be beaten and yet another resolute attack led to a third try which was successfully converted to tie the score at 19-19.
The Navy spent the remainder of the match attacking, camped out on the Army 5m line. An opportunity to win the match was missed with a wide penalty kick. As the final whistle blew the Navy celebrated the draw that was enough to ensure victory in the Inter services championship for the third year running.
This was the final match of yet another very successful Royal navy rugby Union U23 campaign. The Senior XV IS campaign begins with a match against Oxford University at Burnaby Road on 7 February 2018, whilst the Women’s XV begin their campaign with a match against Gosport and Fareham at HMS Collingwood on 17 January 2018.
Team List: Ben Love, Sam Vernon, Nathan Treveil, Ben Roberts, Scott Makepeace (Captain), Dan Mason, Jarrard Hayler, Shaun Walker, Gareth Rees, Dan Rutter, James Griggs, Ben Jeacock, Brad Janes, Charlie Heard, Jackson Acreman.
Replacements: Gareth Yeomans, Issac Salt, Kai Allton, Joe Morgan, Jonny Stoppard, Nick Burgess, Matt Bratton, Leo Hood James Lindsay, Josh Towmsend
Words by John Brennan
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton and Keith Woodland