Strong showing for RNRU Under 23s
RN U23 XV
Dorset & Wilts U20
Those who had not been to Chapel Road before were impressed at the scale and quality of the facilities. Numerous pitches for football, hockey, rugby and other sports are clustered around an extensive club house facility serving all the sports teams. The sun was also shining so it was set to be a good afternoon.
Dorset and Wiltshire made a very quick start, going on the attack and reaching the 22 metre line before the Royal Navy team could respond. However, respond they did, foiling the attack and gaining possession. Passing smoothly they entered the opposition territory and lock, Scott, touched down for the first try of the match, 0 - 5. Fly half, Rutter stepped up for the kick which narrowly missed. From the restart the Dorset and Wilts team were again on the attack. This time the Royal Navy boys weren't so slick and conceded a penalty, which the inside centre kicked skilfully to narrow the gap 3 - 5.
The action came thick and fast and the Navy were on the attack again. A brilliant dummy from Rutter allowed him to find a gap in the home side defence. He was well supported and after several passes, full back Hanley went over in the far right corner of the pitch, 3 - 10. The try was not converted.
The next try was scored by the Dorset and Wiltshire left winger. The ball was carefully collected from a line out and the winger's speed allowed him to dodge two tackles before he dived over for the try. After 20 minutes played the scoreboard read 8 - 10 and the teams seemed fairly evenly matched. However it was in the scrum that the Royal Navy team began to dominate. With a shorter than average front row, the Navy players used this to their advantage and were able to over-power the Dorset and Wiltshire pack. After fumbling a line out, the Navy made the most of the following scrum, deep in the opposition territory. Some good ball handling by the forwards saw the ball into the possession of Hooley, the Navy No 8 who powered over the line. Full back Hanley converted to stretch the Navy lead 8 - 17.
The final ten minutes of the first half were action packed with three tries scored. The Dorset and Wiltshire left winger scored his second try, after a sprint down the pitch. The next score went to the Royal Navy after a period of sustained pressure Rutter crossed the line and the try was converted by Hanley. Then there was still time for another try for Dorset and Wiltshire, a quick try scored going around the blind side of the scrum. The conversion by the inside centre closed the score to 20 - 24 as the half time whistle blew.
A number of changes were made before the second half commenced, with Mikurenda on for Shires, Squibb on for Ilsley and Watson replaced by Williams. It took a while for the teams to settle down and the play went one way and then the other. Particularly notable was a period of play that resulted in bodies littering the field, awaiting medical attention, and one of those was the referee! Fortunately, no lasting damage was done and play recommenced.
More replacements were made by both sides. Hooley, Acott and M Scott came off, replaced by Frogley, Brady and Wilkinson. It was approaching the end of the third quarter when the Navy side got back in their stride and after some free-flowing rugby, Hanley went over the line, and then converted his own try to extend the Navy lead 20 - 31. This was followed by another try scored by replacement Frogley, which was converted by Hanley, 20 - 38.
The home side were still very much in the game and from the restart put the Navy side on the back foot. Initially the Navy defence held strong but the pressure began to tell and they conceded a penalty. Dorset and Wiltshire opted to play the ball rather than kick it and were rewarded with five points in the corner, 25 - 38. Determined to keep on top, the Navy squad responded quickly, with a try by Wilkinson, 25 - 43. And the final try of the match (number thirteen) was scored by replacement Sean Bramwell 25 - 48.
For the spectators it had been a highly entertaining Sunday afternoon of rugby, with plenty of variety in the play, line outs, scrum and tries aplenty. Royal Navy Rugby Union Under 23 Head Coach, John Court, was rightly pleased with his team's performance. He could see clear improvement from their previous match and some strong attacking shapes and patterns, worked on in practice, transferred to the game. Of course, there is always room for improvement and the coaching team will be working on strengthening the defence ahead of their next match, in ten days' time. This match is a home game, against Portsmouth RFC, on Wednesday 17 October at United Services Sports Ground, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth. Kick off 1930. Entry is free so come along and support the team as they continue their preparation for the Inter Service competition.
Team list: 1. Ilsley 2. Skinner 3. Allton 4. M Scott 5. R McLean 6. W Scott 7. Clark 8. Hooley 9. Shires 10. Rutter 11. Watson 12. Holland 13. Guilfoyle 14. Acott 15. Hanley Replacements 16. Squibb 17. Vernon 18. D Bramwell 19. Wilkinson 20. B McLean 21. Frogley 22. Brady 23. Mikurenda 24. Williams 25. R Scott (all replacements used)
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton