Sparkling performance from HMS Diamond in Montenegro
HMS Diamond v Montenegrin Officers
HMS Diamond’s first rugby game of the season, and first game of the deployment, brought together many new faces and a wealth of fresh talent. It was not a straight-forward road to the game with the match only being confirmed at the eleventh hour, the referee pulling out last minute (and Lieutenant Ally Taylor having to stand in), playing the match on a football pitch and all on top of the fact that the Diamond team were brought together without any training or previous game-time. What they lacked in cohesion they certainly made up for in enthusiasm, hard work and ferociousness as they entered the arena against a much better drilled outfit.
Due to the warm weather and the relative inexperience of both teams (and referee), it was decided that the game would be played in 4 quarters instead of the traditional 2 halves. It was not a game for the faint hearted, with massive collisions, powerful rucking and a few blood injuries from the kick off. The first quarter highlighted Diamond’s lack of unity, with a disorganised defence allowing the monstrous opposition No.8 to repeatedly tear through the midfield. The opposition scored an early try in the far corner and it was time for Diamond to regroup. Lieutenant Nick Palmer at fly-half set about organising his defence and putting in some big hits which was effective in slowing down the Montenegrin attack. The visitors put the home side under a bit of pressure but was not sustained enough to convert into points with mistakes and last minute turnovers thwarting each attack. A quick counter attack and a few mis-tackles saw the Montenegro team run in for their second try shortly before the end of the first 20 minutes. The scoreboard showed 10 - 0.
After direction to slow the game down and a reiteration of some basic moves by Lieutenant Josh Hind during the first break, Diamond’s situation improved. Extended periods of possession gained by a successful lineout and tenacious rucking during the second quarter saw the visitor’s first try. A No.8 pick up followed by some coordinated phase play from the rucks and some penetrative running from Able Seaman John Kirwan allowed Diamond to rack up the yards and score in the corner for their first try of the game. Diamond’s possession continued however another turnover and subsequent counter-attack saw the home team score a try from 90 metres with just 3 phases. Some well worked forward play from Diamond allowed them to strike back in short order, with the wing running in to finish the try and narrow the gap 15 - 10.
The third quarter would turn out to be the last as it was approaching sunset and the light levels were falling. It was now Diamond’s turn to attack from a turnover as they quickly punched holes through the opposition defence with direct running by forwards and backs alike. After a quick succession of phases, Diamond scored their third try through the middle of the park. At this point Diamond seemed to tire, the disorganisation seen in early parts of the game crept back in, with unforced errors and mis-tackles allowing the home side to score the last try of the game for a final score of 20 - 15.
Despite the loss, this was the first game in a long time for HMS Diamond and there were plenty of positives to take away and plenty of enthusiasm from the players and supporters. There was some good rugby played throughout the match with some promising individual talent on display. With some consistent training and more regular matches Diamond will improve on this performance and quickly become an extremely competitive Ship’s team.
Team List Lt RM G Hannah, HM J Kirwan, SLt Williams, AB J Bell, MNE T Larkin, SGT W Elliot, Lt N Palmar, LET D Carmicheal, Lt J Hind, Lt L Waters, ET ME J Morrill, LCT S Bland, ET WE J Elliot, AB WS C Moncaster, ETME J Garrard, Lt J Dudly, ETME S Morgan, AB SEA C Branchflower, ETME S Savage.
Words by E Ochiltree and J Hind
Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © E Ochiltree