RN East overpowered by dominant RN West.
With an excellent display from all the RN West squad and a Rolls-Royce performance from man of the match, RN and UKAF capped Scrum Half Gareth Rees the game was won by halftime. Only the stubborn defence, hard work and never say die attitude of all the RN East players kept the West honest, making them work hard for every yard particularly in the second half.
With the continued unavailability of Burnaby Road this game was played on HMS Temeraire’s 4G pitch on a chilly but otherwise dry evening.
RN West arrived fully loaded including, two capped and one international player, in contrast RN East suffered a major blow with the withdrawal of HMS Sultan’s players as they prepare for the Navy Cup final next week.
From the kick-off West put pressure on the East’s defence resulting in a penalty, winning the subsequent lineout inside the 22 drove into the 5 metre where after a maul on the line were awarded a scrum, after two resets West were penalised for an early shove, East kicked, failed to find touch gifting the ball to the West who again attacked inside the 22. Rees (9) collected the ball at the breakdown, driving hard and low at the try line scored in the corner. His conversion attempt failed hitting the posts and rebounding. East 0 – West 5. With the East defending and making errors, West were again in the 22 and rewarded with a penalty, Rees kicked to touch 10 metres out, and securing the ball continued to attack only to be brought back as East had offended. Penalty awarded, Rees again kicked to touch, lineout on 5 metre line taken by Nichols (5) and a maul ensued, with Rees spotting an opening attacked the blindside scoring his second try, which he converted. East 0 – West 12. 11 minutes played. With West continually attacking in their opponents half via a powerful set of forwards, and the East error count rising, it was only a matter of time before West scored again with hooker, Williams (2) diving over after a well worked lineout on the 5 metre line again converted by Rees. East 0 - 19. 18 minutes played. With East defending desperately to turn back the marauding West attackers and winning some ball, via Berry (4) and Gaught (5) worked their way into the West half before coughing up the ball. Immediately, West attacked through both its forwards and backs with Rees distributing the ball with both precision and pace from scrum and ruck alike. After a quickly taken penalty deep inside the 22 Rees offloaded to Williams to score his second try with Rees adding the conversion. East 0 – West 26 after 22 minutes. With 18 minutes until halftime East had to dig deep, find a way to stop the Wests attacks and kick start their own game. With a concerted effort East forced West back into their half and defending hard. After 27 minutes and winning a scrum close to the West try line East attacked down the left and Rodalane crashed over for a try which went unconverted. East 5 – West 26. When West restarted East again ventured into West’s half with a concerted forward effort, keeping the ball tight and were rewarded with a penalty, winning the subsequent lineout, and with Keogh (8) attacking close to the right touchline, only a huge tackle by West forced him into touch. East were unable to keep up the pressure being gradually forced back into their own half. Eventually West won a scrum on the 22, Rees fed the ball across the backs to allow Coy (15) at pace to score under the posts. Once again Rees converted the try. East 5 – West 33, 33 minutes played. The remaining minutes of the half saw both teams trying to make ground, however errors created a sequence of stop and go rugby and both sides welcomed the half time whistle. Halftime score RN East 5 – RN West 33.
After a quick rub down with a damp copy of the Sporting Life it was back to business with West taking the kick off received by East who attacked moving into the West half and rewarded with a penalty, taken quickly, showing their intent to make a game of the second half. With the forwards scrapping for every bit of possession and West defending strongly and turning the ball over and winning a scrum on halfway, Rees spotting a gap darted down the blindside where Berry (4) committed a high tackle and was sent to the bin. Rees found touch on the 5mtr line, however with the hooker overthrowing East cleared the danger. With East gaining more quality possession Griggs (14), a fine 7s player receiving the ball in his own half attacked down the left wing at pace, sadly forced into touch on the 22 by the West defence, however at the lineout Williams was adjudged to have thrown the ball in crooked, East choose a lineout well taken by Gaught, with scrum half Lewis feeding his backs there was a scoring opportunity, sadly again the move broke down in the 22 with a turnover to West. With 8 minutes played, taking advantage of a tiring defence West broke through the East line sending Duffy (10), at pace over for a well-deserved try, with Rees converting and the score East 5 – West 40.
Substitutions caused the game to fragment, both making basic errors as they tired resulted in a period of stop-go rugby played in mid-field. It was inevitable that one side would break the circle, and so it was that West after East’s Gaught ran into his own man after winning a lineout resulting in a West scrum, attacking across the backs Lavelwa (14) was well tackled by Grant (11) on the 5 mtr line, Forming a ruck West picked and drove to the line where Coy was held up. West 5 mtr scrum. With Rees’s talent it was an easy decision to feed the ball to Coy at pace to crash over for West’s final try, converted by Rees. East 5 –West 47. Job done Rees was replaced by Tyrrell (22) – a hard act to follow!
With 20 minutes to play for RN East it was all about pride, courage and never giving up without a fight, with or without the ball. With Rees replaced West lost focus, direction and territory causing the error count rise, this allowed Lewis at scrum half to use the increase in possession from set piece and loose play alike to good advantage, kicking, feeding the backs when spotting an opportunity, taking back into the forwards to keep possession and the ball live. On several occasions East established themselves in the West’s 22 but failed to keep momentum and the attacks fizzled out. Only in the last minutes of the game did East retain the ball long enough for Lewis to score a thoroughly deserved try, which he converted making the final score RN East 12 – RN West 47.
As the referee blow the final whistle an unknown voice from the East team said “That’s the way to finish”. I for one agree.
After the game RN West team manager WO1 Pearson said: The Western Region rugby team travelled to Portsmouth on 4th December for our first away game of the Inverdale Challenge with a full squad of 22 in buoyant mood. We trained in the afternoon on the Temeraire pitch under the expert guidance of head coach WO1 Paul Todd, player coach LPT Pat Coy and Western Region DoR and backs coach WO1 Dave Sibson. When the game kicked off at 1900 I was pleasantly surprised with our dominance in most areas of the game and a half time score of 5 – 33 was a reflection on our organisation and coaching. Having made changes in the second half and with a final score of 12 – 47 we will travel back to the West Country with confidence for the final round of the competition against the Fleet Air Arm on 15th January 2020.
RN East: 1. John, 2. Hughes, 3. Kewn, 4. Berry, 5. Gaught, 6. Whight, 7.Ellis, 8.Keogh, 9. Jackson, 10. Davies, 11. Grant, 12. Caqara, 13. Marshall, 14. Griggs, 15. Donaldson, 16. Russell, 17. Lewis, 18. Rodalane, 19. Humberstone, 20. Armstrong. Team Manager: LPT Heming.
RN West: 1. Oberholzer, 2. Williams, 3. MacAllister, 4. Davis, 5. Nichols, 6. Newcombe, 7. Wheeler, 8. Conbeer, 9.Rees, 10. Duffy, 11. Suka, 12. McCrohan, 13. Gerraty, 14. Lavelwa, 15. Coy, 16. Cozens, 17.Luckett, 18. Tuikoro, 19. Frankland, 20. Shoebrook, 21. Cooper, 22. Tyrrell.
Team Management: DoR & Asst coach WO1 Dave Sibson, Team manager WO1 Fraz Pearson, Head coach WO1 Paul Todd, Physio Wilma Boyington.
Words: Tommy Atkins
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland