Royal Navy U23's v Tottonians RFC (2nd)
Tottonians RFC (2nd)
Solid Shake Down Before Inter Service Test
For the second week running the Royal Navy U23 XV were disrupted by a late change in opposition. This week Tottonians stepped in to replace Cambridge University who were unable to travel. With the game also moving to Saturday at least the team had good conditions to finalise their preparations before opening their Inter Service challenge against the Royal Air Force, at Burnaby Road, on Friday 14 November. Tottonians proved worthy opponents and the Royal Navy U23 XV was able to have an effective workout in their final warm up match.
Playing in to a deceptively strong wind in the first half the Royal Navy were starved of possession for much of the first half hour. Tottonians were comfortable with the ball and their pick and drive game ensured that the Navy forwards had to work hard in defence. Tottonians missed an early penalty opportunity and the Royal Navy were struggling to get out of their own half. However turnover ball, well won by Jack Basher, gave the half chance, which led to a penalty that pushed the Royal Navy further up the field and eventually a second penalty gave them a 5m lineout. With the ball secured it was Chris McDonald who was driven over for the opening score, which wasn’t converted.
The lead was short lived though as from the restart Tottonians were able to re-establish themselves deep in the Royal Navy half. This time the defence was unable to hold out the determined running of the away team and they crossed from close range. With the conversion landed Tottonians led 7-5 approaching half time. However there was still time left for the Royal Navy to repeat the template of their first score. This time it was skipper Jack Basher controlling the ball at the maul to score the Royal Navy’s second try. With the conversion it was 12 – 7 to the Royal Navy U23 XV at half time. After taking a while to settle into the match the Navy proved to be very effective with their limited possession in the second quarter.
Sam Tyrer and the Navy pack had the perfect start to the second half. An early error gave Tottonians a scrum on the Royal Navy ten metre line. They were ruthlessly driven off the ball by the Navy forwards. From the turnover Sam Tyrer broke a couple of tackles to score from 50m. A simple kick and it was 19-7 with barely five minutes of the second period played. The try was the prelude to the best period for the Royal Navy. Suddenly their driving play in the loose came to life. Forwards and backs were running better angles and making good yards, with support working hard to give the ball carrier options. With good continuity the Royal Navy set up Lewis Cooper to score wide out in the left corner before Jack Basher scored his second out to the right and Jake Pullinger scored close to the posts. Three tries in fifteen minutes and at 36 – 7 the game was beyond the reach of Tottonians.
To their credit Tottonians provided most worthwhile short notice opponents to the Royal Navy U23 XV and had allowed the Navy’s preparations to remain on track. Though the game was lost they kept looking to be positive with the ball in hand. After a couple of breaks from their midfield it was their forwards who then exerted some pressure with more of their close quarter driving play. Their reward was a 5m scrum from which they were able to drive over for their second try of the game. However not to be out done the U23s responded immediately with the final try of the game and the third for captain Jack Basher.
Next up for the U23 XV it is the Royal Air Force and the 2014 Inter Service Championship. Their season so far has shown solid progress that they will seek to continue over the next couple of weeks. However with a raucous Friday night crowd behind them at Burnaby Road they should relish the challenge the RAF will bring and look to repeat their performance at RAF Halton last year that saw them achieve a well deserved 27 – 15 victory.
RN U23XV: Harrison Marsh, Dewi Pearce, Sam Potter, Chris McDonald, Ben Roberts, Tristan Trehan, Jack Basher (Capt), Jon Henty, Dave Coleman, Jordan Shuttleworth, Sam Tyrer, Lewis Cooper, Jack Shaw, Apenisa Daunibau, Rory Penfold Reps: Jake Reynolds, Joe Burton, Jake Pullinger, Suliasi Naulivou, Sam Carter, Blake Smith
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones