RNMS v Lichfield 2nds/3rds
The third game of the season for the Royal Navy Medical Services (RNMS) was a friendly fixture against Lichfield RFC, a combination of their 2nd's and 3rd's. This was the first meeting between the two sides so neither side knew what to expect. The RNMS usually struggle to field a side at this time of year and for the previous two seasons fixtures have often been cancelled. Nevertheless, a squad of 16 was mustered to face Lichfield.
A training session earlier in the day saw the RNMS work on developing the defensive systems that allowed them to stay in the fight and win their previous fixture against Chobham. A few new faces, as is the custom for RNMS rugby, took to the field for both training and the game showing the development and progression the squad is making this season.
Lead by skipper LMA (Sam) 'Winnie' Winfield, the game was underway with RNMS kicking off. Pressure mounted from the RNMS but they came away with nothing and after giving away a penalty the RNMS were on the back foot. The defensive system that had been developed in training worked with every man sticking to their roles, preventing Lichfield from breaking the deadlock despite a good stint in the RNMS 22. The pressure forced a knock on from Lichfield and with uncontested scrums due to a first game for RNMS Prop, MNE MA Galloway, RNMS was able to clear the ball and relieve some of the pressure. After 10 minutes of back and forth play the RNMS were awarded a penalty that was taken quickly by POMA Chris Jones. Another penalty was awarded as he was tackled by a player who had not retreated 10 metres and now the RNMS were just outside Lichfield 22. Skipper Winnie opted for a scrum, which saw the backs make some ground and with good rucking from the forwards the ball got out to LPT Dean Fentum who broke the line. He was able to offload the ball to Jones in support who was brought down just shy of the try line. Quick recycling of the ball allowed Lt Cdr Craig Dodd, closely supported by Lt Bali Salisbury, on his return to the squad from a season away, to cross the line. The try was unconverted and the score was 0-5 to the RNMS. Shortly after the restart a clash of heads between two players saw Sgt Dave Tutt substituted with a head injury and broken nose, leaving a 65 minute shift for the 15 lads left on the field. Pressure mounted from Lichfield and 5 minutes before half time their backs they broke the line to score under the posts, converted. Half time, Lichfield 7 - RNMS 5.
The second half didn’t start to well for the RNMS with no one catching the ball from the Lichfield restart. Litchfield gathered the ball and managed to get the ball out wide and with a chip over the top and a lucky bounce Lichfield scored their second try of the game, 12 - 5. Lichfield ‘fresh legs’ including some 2nd team players returning from injury that made a huge impact as the legs of the RNMS players began to tire. The defensive system began to fail and Lichfield managed to cross the line for another two tries in quick succession, both unconverted. 22 - 5 with 15 minutes left. Feeling deflated and tired, with players struggling due to a lack of subs, head coach S/Lt Andrew Dennis put on a set of boots to try relieve some of the pressure. Lichfield was under pressure from the RNMS for a few minutes in their own 22 but defended well and the RNMS were unable to capitalise. With Lichfield in possession of the ball they kicked deep and a horrible bounce for MA James Savage at fullback caught him off guard. The ball bounced right into the hands of the Lichfield 13 and with half a pitch to run and no one in front of him he put the ball down under the posts. The try was easily converted and with the score now 29 - 5 the RNMS heads were down. Winnie had a word with the squad under the post and demanded everyone to dig deep for the next five minutes. Lichfield continued to mount pressure but the RNMS held out. With the last play of the game the RNMS had a scrum on their own 5m line and decided that with nothing to lose they would run it back at Lichfield, making it up to half way before being ushered into touch for the final whistle.
Plenty of positives for the RNMS came out of the game, none more so than they were able to field a side in a time when historically it had been difficult to do so. The defensive systems worked and with more numbers and a better luck the game could have had a different result. The Fixture between the RNMS and Lichfield will follow in the footsteps of the Old Pen's and Chobham games continuing as an annual fixture.
LMA S Winfield (CTCRM) (Captain)
LT D Salisbury (DMS Whittington)
SGT D Tutt (DMS Whittington) (Rep MA J Shaw)
MA S Cairns (RNAS Yeovilton)
Lt Cdr C Dodds (DMS Whittington)
Lt C Nicholson (RNLA Collingwood)
MA Lewis Baxter (DMS Whittington)
Lt G Lewis (DMS Whittington)
POMA C Jones (DMS Whittington)
MNE (MA) C Galloway (DMS Whittington)
CPONN P Hornsey (DMS Whittington)
LPT D Fentum (DMS Whittington)
MA K Chapman (40 CDO RM)
MNE (MA) B Walsh (DMS Whittington)
MA J Savage (DMS Whittington)
S/Lt A Dennis (Head Coach replaced MA Shaw)