Strong showing in season opener
RN Senior XV
Oxford University RFC
The Royal Navy Rugby Union Senior XV travelled to Iffley Road, Oxford to take on the University side in their opening match of the season. It was an unusually mild night for the time of year, and the Navy team grew in confidence as the match went on, coming from 0 - 7 down to triumph 7 - 17 at full time.
It was an evening of mixed emotions for the RNRU Senior XV as they travelled to Oxford for their first outing of the season. Excited to be starting their preparations for the 2019 Inter Service competition, mixed with sadness at the untimely loss of one of their numbers. Before the match there was a minute's silence, and then the players' concentration turned to the task at hand.
Having only come together in the previous days, it took a while for the Navy side to settle, and with the home advantage Oxford capitalised, running in the first try of the night which was quickly converted, to take the lead 7 - 0 after 8 minutes. The home side were definitely on the front foot and had the majority of possession in the first quarter.
Trading penalties at the start of the second quarter, the Royal Navy side settled down, working through the phases, pressing into the Oxford half. Oxford defended well, holding up the first surge over the line but a couple of minutes later Eldon Myers found a way through to score the first Navy try to close the gap, 7 - 5. From the restart, the Navy side put pressure on the Oxford team, and following a great run by left winger, Brad Janes, replacement centre, Matt Bowden, quickly followed with the third try of the match. Horton didn't make the conversion and at half time the Navy had edged into the lead 7 - 10.
Scrum half, Gareth Rees was replaced by Sam Carter and Troy Gobey came on for Eldon Myers before the restart. The aim of the first three matches of the season is for the Training Support Group to trial a number of player combinations before the Senior XV team go into camp at the end of February in preparation for the Inter Service matches. The tide had definitely turned and the Royal Navy Senior XV appeared to go from strength to strength, despite all the changes. Some open, free flowing rugby followed, but unfortunately this was not to last as the weather deteriorated, causing several handling errors. However both teams kept up their work rate, attacking and defending in turn. It was the Royal Navy who were rewarded for their determination, with No 8, Jarrard Hayler, powering over the line in the seventy ninth minute. Nathan Huntley stepped up for the kick and added two points so the final score stood at 7 - 17.
The coaching team will undoubtedly have much for the players to work on ahead of their next match against Cambridge University RFC next Wednesday, 13 February, but they will be heartened at the spirit and determination of their players, who put in a winning performance against the Oxford side who have been playing together since October.
Team list: 1. ETME R Ives, 2. LPT B Priddey (team captain), 3. SLt J Terry, 4. Mne L Cooper, 5. AET S Makepeace, 6. AB J Kirwan, 7. Mne W Scott, 8. LCpl J Hayler, 9. AB(MW) G Rees, 10. AET M Horton, 11. AET B Janes, 12. LPT J Basher, 13. Mne S Raumakita, 14. LPT E Myers, 15. AB(MW) R Dimmock-Williams Replacements Lt T Hughes, 17. PO B Roden, 18. Mne C Robinson, 19. LCpl A Wilman, 20. AET H Wilkinson, 21. AET S Carter, 22. AET G Loydall, 23. Mne N Huntley 24. Lt M Bowden 25. LCpl T Gobey 26. Cpl K Bridgen
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton