RN Mariners v Torpoint RFC
On the back of a steady draw against Devonport Services RFC, the Royal Navy Mariners were expecting a more expansive game from a youthful Torpoint XV. Therefore the training in the afternoon, held at HMS Drake, consisted on handling and decision making under pressure. The handling drills and the increasing communications between players (coach's priority one) supported a growing confidence in the players and coaching staff that the team would give a good account of themselves.
Torpoint arrived on the back of one loss out of seven and were in a buoyant mood from the off. Some excellent handling coupled with some loose tackling from the RN Mariners allowed the Torpoint fullback to pick an excellent line and score a well worked try in the corner. From the restart the Mariners increased the tempo and sometimes frantic play led to a loss of fluency. The lighter Torpoint pack began to harass and dominate the set pieces. The Mariners' pack, on a few occasions, felt the full extent of their youthful exuberance when they were driven off their own ball in the scrum and when lineouts were stolen (perhaps in part due to the Mariners lending our hookers to TRFC).
Where the Mariners fared better was in open play where forwards and backs inter-play verged on the sublime. The first Mariners' try was contrived by the back row linking into the ten/ twelve channel, going through the phases and as the ball was passed down the line leaving Campbell-Baldwin acres of space to score on debut on the left.
This ignited Torpoint who with a quick riposte, again through their 15, broke through the tackles to score. From the kick off, Mariners began to exert significant pressure but the penalty account against was beginning to tell with a lot of territory lost due to unforced errors. Eventually in good field position, lock Watkins brushed off Torpoint attention and scored a try the backs would have been proud of. Half-time arrived with the score 10-10 and with a quick reset and with the emphasis of stopping the infringements, the Mariners retook the field.
Sadly the play was frantic, again with passes not going to hand but the RN dominated the first 20 without getting on the score board. A break in the middle of the field lead to space out wide with players taking the ball and drawing their opposite numbers out of position. The ball was worked out to Sayer joining the line from full-back at pace, who with the try line beckoning, stepped through two would-be tacklers to score.
Clark at 10, was orchestrating proceedings but mistakes and miscommunication continued; an unforced error saw the ball bounce of the referee for a the Torpoint centre to pounce and run in under the posts. The try was converted, 17-15.
This was just the impetus that Mariners required and for the last 10 minutes of the game they put together their best sequences of play. Backs and forwards worked hard for each other and progressed steadily up the pitch, dominating the contact and winning the rucks. Falling short of the line on a number of occasions, the match looked to be going Torpoint's way until in the final minute the ball went down the short side and after a brief juggle Cuthbert stepped inside to score and Fentum converted.
Ultimately this was a game both sides could have won but the guile and experience of the Mariners won through in a very competitive, lively match.
Team: Moose Bastow, Richard England, James Brown, Martyn Watkins, Rob Jones, Wilf Rees, Guy Pallett, Bryan Milford, Lemeki Laliono, Paul Clark, Wayn Dawson, Brian Stokes, Dean Fentum, Jason Dixie Deane, Jamie Campbell-Baldwin.
Replacements: Russell Sayer, Gavin Rule, Jan Dash, Glen Cuthbert, Andrew Mason.
Article by Jamie Campbell-Baldwin