Seahawk flying high after winning the Navy Cup
As reigning champions, after beating the Royal Marines of 40 Commando in 2015, HMS Seahawk were out to avenge their defeat at the hands of Britannia Royal Naval College in 2014. Having secured a place in their sixth Navy Cup final in eight years the bookmakers odds must have been in the Naval Air Station's favour, but the youth of the officer cadets from Dartmouth, and their impressive results in the previous rounds of the competition, indicated that the spectators were in for an enjoyable match at The Rectory.
Seahawk started the better and were rewarded for some fine forward play inside the first nine minutes. Seahawk team captain, Air Engineer Technician Sam Carter, ran-in to post the first points on the scoreboard. He narrowly missed the conversion but soon made amends with a penalty kick to give the airmen from Cornwall an eight point lead after the first quarter.
The BRNC side, mainly made up of officer cadets recently joined the Naval Service, has only been together for a few weeks. They rallied well, applying pressure on Seahawk; however the next score went to Seahawk with a try that showed full back Paul Saberton’s football skills as much as his rugby ability.
Carter’s successful conversion gave Seahawk a 15 - 0 cushion, but the Dartmouth team did not let their heads drop and they ended the half in a strong position. It was the Dartmouth team captain, Officer Cadet Luke Tupholme who ran home a tremendous try, but missed the conversion, to bring the score to Seahawk 15 – BRNC 5 at the break.
Seahawk came out strongly for the second half and soon showed their control on the pitch. BRNC gave away a penalty within easy range of Carter’s boot and he did not disappoint, notching up another three points. But Britannia Royal Naval College were not going down without a fight and they worked themselves back into the contest. For long periods the defending champions were under the cosh, protecting their line with all their might. With just a few minutes remaining the incessant pressure finally told and BRNC scored a deserved try. A reverse pass from Luke Tupholme to Officer Cadet Guildford, allowed him to race in to score, closing the gap, and with Tupholme’s conversion, the scoreboard stood at 18- 12 to Seahawk with only a few minutes left to play.
The Dartmouth young officers threw everything they had at the Seahawk side but were unable to match the strength and ability of the Air Station fifteen who held on for a 18 - 12 victory, retaining the Navy Cup in fine style.
“The boys dug out blind tonight,” said Sam Carter HMS Seahawk Captain. “We took on a lot of pressure in the second half and, credit to everyone, we managed to hold them off. Fair play to Dartmouth, they were close at the end but I think our team spirit held us together as a team."
“It was a spirited performance from us I think,” said Officer Cadet Luke Tupholme, Captain of the BRNC team. “This team came together only 15 weeks ago and in January there will be a new intake and a new team. It is full credit to our coaches that we got to the final and played well.”
BRNC Dartmouth: Holton, Baylis, Bradley, Brown, Gregory, Rees, Nugent, Johnson, Hutton, Klapholtz, Newton, Tupholme (Captain), Baivatu, Guildford, Toga, Carnie, Ellis, Molitika, Boyce, Grayson, Mansfield, Holmes. Team Manager POPT Jenkins.
HMS Seahawk: Olliffe, Lowe, Warner, Lamsin, Trower, Nichol, Bence, Kava, Carter, Loydall, Campbell, Tora, Lenderyou, MacIntyre, Saberton, Vernon, Court, Wilkinson, Kitson, Millington, Hornton, Power. Team Manager LAET Pallett.
Words by Pete Wooldridge, RNAS Culdrose Public Relations Officer
Images by Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton and Mark Andrews