Senior XV v SW Barbarians
RN Senior XV
Barbarian by name BaaBaa’s by nature. By kind permission of the Barbarian RFC the Royal Navy took on a South West Barbarian team at Taunton in what turned out to be a high paced, highly entertaining game. The SW BaaBaa’s starting line up were predominantly Exeter Chiefs and Plymouth Albion players, who had a clear intent; put the ball wide and hit it with pace and power and from the start that is what happened, catching many of the Navy players in their headlights. This was ably demonstrated by the opening try in the 2nd minute, by eventual man of the match, Cornish Pirates, Luke Jones. Despite the initial dominance by the Baabaa’s, the RN did have a short spell in the opposition half and from a good line out drive, Mne Nathan Huntley (30 Cdo) skipped through his opposite number, rounded the full back to score under the posts and even the score. The first half dominance in territory and possession saw the Barbarians attack, attack and attack the Navy defensive line which stood strong for long periods, only being breached by the considerable size and skill of Chiefs centre, Sereli Naqelevuki. The half time score of 26-10 to the Barbarians was a fair reflection of play but no reflection of the sheer pace and intensity of the match for which both sides deserve huge credit – 1 penalty in the whole half tells a story in itself – the hardest job for the referee was to keep up with their game.
The 2nd half saw the Navy get its second wind and they had more and more of the game as time went on. Mne Dave Fairbrother (45 Cdo) was strong throughout and his quick feet and deft offload saw the returning CPOET Dave Pascoe (771 Sdn) score unopposed under the posts. Another influential player was Mne Toots Vakalutaki (40 Cdo), a local Taunton player, initially in the back row, he moved to the centre for the last quarter which gave him more room to manoeuvre and was a constant threat to the tiring Barbarian’s defence. The last part of the match was dominated by the Navy but despite their efforts they could not breach the line, a couple of interception knock-ons by the opposition interfered with clear try scoring opportunities and the final score of 38-17 was probably a fair reflection of the game overall. The younger players have now tasted the level of the power and pace of the game they will be required to operate at for the remainder of the season, with 5 of their 6 remaining games against premiership opposition in Worcester and Bath as well as the French Navy, RAF and Army.
The Navy team will not be disheartened, but encouraged at their performance, particularly the second half, as they now travel to Toulon to take on the Marine Nationale in the heartland of French and MN rugby next week.