Scintillating success in Surrey for Senior XV


RN Senior XV


Esher RFC

Sam Matavesi returns to the Navy side after his international spell with Fiji
Going in for the tackle – Edd Pascoe
The Navy pack started very strongly
On target – full back Jonathan Humphrey
Brad Janes shows his pace

When the Royal Navy Senior XV travelled to Esher the result was a fascinating game to watch, with first-class displays from both sides, and proving the Royal Navy Senior XV have an impressive platform on which to build success in the forthcoming Inter Services Championship.

The game started with fly-half Nathan Huntley kicking the ball from the centre spot high into the clear night sky. Esher kicked the ball back to Huntley who nimbly passed to Ben Chambers playing on the wing. As would soon become a feature of the excitement of the first half, the three-quarters’ clinical passing saw Troy Gobey in combination with R Cooper dart deep into Esher’s territory.

The first scrum followed, Esher’s put in. A huge shove from the Royal Navy set the Esher’s forwards back-peddling. Seizing the advantage the Royal Navy mounted further pressure inside Esher’s 22, only for Esher to blast the ball into touch for the first line-out of the game.

Centre, Brad Janes received the ball following the line-out and bolted across the game line inside Esher’s half. Again the Royal Navy demonstrated their power in the scrum with another great eight-man effort and the resulting pressure resulted in a scuffed kick to touch by the home side. The ball did not make touch and resided in the hands of wing Chambers linking with Janes. Flanker Sam Matavesi took the ball on a darting run well inside Esher’s 22 and was rewarded with a penalty to the visitors who kicked to touch. The resulting line-out culminated with the Royal Navy forwards mustering a rolling maul with such momentum that in a flash hooker Ben Priddey was over for the first try, covered, score 0 – 7 after the first ten minutes.

With the full moon rising over one of the widest pitches in the country, Esher restarted the game but with the ball going straight out the two packs scrummed down on the centre spot. Number 8 Jarrard Hayler picked the ball up at the back of the scrum and re-inflicted pressure on the home side. Just four minutes after the first Navy try Ben Chambers on the wing went over again to score, having received a cross field kick.  The conversion was made by full-back Jonathan Humphrey (score 14 – 0).

Soon after the re-start and despite a heroic cover-tackle by Jonathan Humphrey, Esher’s flight-of-foot No 11 scored an impressive try in the corner, not converted (score 5 – 14).

After the re-start the kicking duel continued with a Gary Owen sent scudding up into the darkness by the visitors and rewarded with a knock-forward. The next passage of play saw Esher infringing as the ball went to ground followed by a kick to touch and line-out rolling into another display by the Royal Navy forwards of grinding into the home-side’s 22. The momentum resulted in a stellar try by Matavesi, converted by Humphrey (score 5 – 21).

The last ten minutes of the first-half provided those watching a great spectacle of passing rugby. The Royal Navy continued to tip the balance of play and a highlight was seeing prop Chris Robinson thunder through the home-side’s defensive line, the ball made its way to centre Nathan Huntley to go over the try line, converted try (score 5 – 28) 

Following Royal Navy changes to the back-row, the back three-quarters again deftly shipped the ball out to Troy Gobey who went over for a try, converted, (score 5 -35).

However straight after the restart Esher signalled their intent to continue to fight hard to turn the tables on the visiting side. Esher’s Number 8 linking with the scrum-half and wing saw Esher’s fly-half go over for a try, not converted.  Half time score Esher 10 – 35 Royal Navy.

The second half was proven to be an even more closely contested game between the two sides, matching each other with possession and territory, but fifteen minutes in and the deadlock was broken by Royal Navy making the most of an intercepted pass and centre Cooper going over for a try under the posts, converted (score 10 – 42). Esher responded with characteristic determination and following a scrum five metres out from Royal Navy’s try line went over to score, converted (score 17 – 42). With the game entering the last ten minutes Esher were to score again from a penalty taken quickly, converted.  Final score Esher RFC 24 – 42 Royal Navy Senior XV.

It was a fascinating game to watch, full of action, and ten tries, with superb displays from both sides.  The Royal Navy Senior XV are next in action on 6 March when they travelled to Exeter to take on Exeter Braves at Sandy Park.  Kick off is 1930, tickets are available from Exeter Chiefs but free entry is available for season ticket holders and those with a military ID card.

Team list: 1. LAET K Beasley 2. LPT B Priddey (team captain) 3. Mne C Robinson 4. LCpl Pascoe 5. AET S Makepeace 6. AB J Kirwan 7. Logs (SC) S Matavesi 8. LCpl J Hayler 9. AET S Carter 10. Mne N Huntley 11. LCpl T Gobey 12. Mne R Cooper 13. AET B Janes 14. LAET B Chambers 15. AET J Humphrey 16. ET(ME) R Ives 17. PO B Roden 18. LCpl A Wilman 19. AB K Altman 20. Mne L Cooper 21. NA (AH) B Watson 22. SLt H Pendreich RN 23. SLt M Spencer RN

Words: Jon Wheale
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton