Taunton Wanderers 12 - 25 Royal Navy Mariners XV
Following a sore loss against a tough but beatable Havant XV, a strong squad with some new (though still old) faces assembled at Norton Manor Camp, home of 40 Cdo. To say that 40 Cdo were good hosts would be an understatement. The Sergeants' Mess made their home available and the PTI staff at the gym were exceptional in the provision of facilities and post warm up rehabilitation!
After the standard stretching and body function drills the squad divided into backs and forwards to analyse the previous matches finer points. A common theme was reached and the Mariners were determined to play ‘heads-up’ rugby, reduce the penalty count and improve player decision making by making the most of created space.
Arriving at Hyde Park, the squad was impressed with the venue and was shown the lay of the land by former Taunton first team player and the Mariners Captain, Wilf Rees (who seemed to know everyone).
Taunton Wanderers arrived in numbers with their bench looking like a crowd. On the pitch before kick-off the Mariners looked the more professional outfit while the Wanderers played some touch. This illusion was quickly dispelled as of the second minute when their forwards stole the ball at the lineout as their sizeable Number 8 pounced on the loose ball crashing through two would be tacklers to cross the line unopposed. Easily converted, the score stood at 7-0 to Taunton with the RN at a loss to what had just happened.
A period of play followed without either side claiming brawling rights as the forwards plied their trade at the ruck and maul. A planned backs move in open play brought dividends as wingers Andrew Holmes and Wayne Dawson conspired to provide space, dragging in defenders at the breakdown and producing space on the flanks for the ball to arrive in Max Boyce’s hands to score. Moments later further strong running lines from the likes of Richard England, Iain Bradley, Gav Rule and Josh Taubale lead to a break by Max Boyce in the middle of the park before looping a pass to Wayne Dawson who scored in the left corner, 7-10.
Strong tackling across the team was epitomised by tackle of the match from Max Laliano who lined up Taunton’s Fijian play-maker and smashed him into next week to the audible groans of the Taunton faithful.
A period of territorial kicking followed with the more accurate kicking coming from Paul Clark’s boot; a clever chip over Taunton’s right winger was followed up by Dean Fentum and Andrew Holmes, the latter denied a try for a double movement. Clearly rattled, the Taunton forwards infringements began to add to their penalty count and a hands-in-the-ruck penalty was confidently converted by Dean Fentum.
Choosing to tap and go on a number of occasions, the Taunton loose runners were well matched by the Mariners. When they did kick for touch the lineouts were inevitably stolen by a pumped up pack led by Aiden Riley and Adams, a great improvement from the Havant match.
On for Max Boyce, Clark (Nobby not Paul) following a dummy run from Dean Fentum which fixed the opposition centres, found space to be stopped just shy of the line. The centres pairing may well be the selection headache the coaches were hoping for as the midfield began to dominate.
A scrum on the Taunton 5m line saw the ball quickly recycled through the hands to allow Nobby Clark to cross unopposed, 7-18. Every time the Wanderers gained any territory this was returned with interest by the ever expansive RN. A well constructed driving maul saw Dean Fentum held up. A Wayne Dawson run, joining the line at speed created the slightest of openings allowing Andrew Mason to cross the whitewash for his first ever competitive try, much to the delight of the TSG (Clark converted). With the match all but sewn up at 7-25, a rare incursion deep in the Mariners 22 highlighted the latent ability and desire of the Wanderers. A strong scrum with an overloaded blindside resulted with the ball arriving in the hands of Mne Ross Hunter, recently arriving at 40 Cdo, scoring for Taunton.
The result: 25-12 to the Mariners, a result they worked hard for, producing some exceptional phases of play.
1. Keith Lister
2. Richard England
3. Mo Kuriuci
4. Aiden Riley
5. Edward Park
6. Gav Rule
7. Wilf Rees
8. Josh Taubale
9. Max Laliano
10 Paul Clark
11. Wayne Dawson
12. Dean Fentum
13. Max Boyce
14. Andrew Holmes
15. Russ Sayer
16. Andrew Mason
17. Martyn Watkins
18. Iain Bradley
19. Jason Deane
20. Paul ‘Nobby’ Clark
21. Gary Ibbotson
22. Jamie Campbell-Baldwin
Report by Jamie Campbell-Baldwin
Images - Alligin Photography / © Mark Andrews
Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones