The night of nine tries


RN Senior XV


Cambridge University RFC

Gregg Loydall makes the conversion
First outing for Bridgen at No 9
Powerhouse, Hayler, played at No 8
A strong maul from the RN Pack
Right wing, Troy Gobey with Scott Makepeace

The Royal Navy Senior XV took an impressive lead 0 – 19 when they travelled to Grange Road to take on Cambridge University RUFC.  However the home supporters were delighted by the tenacity of their players who fought back to win the match 27 – 26 in the final minutes of the game.

In stark contrast to last year’s flooded and eventually abandoned game, conditions were perfect at Grange Road for this season’s fixture between the RN Senior XV and the Light Blues of Cambridge University. This was the students' last game of their season and a good crowd turned out to watch what would be a thrilling match.

Both teams started brightly and it was obvious from early on the forward exchanges would be equally matched; the RN having the edge in the scrum and Cambridge the edge with their driving lineouts. Great early pressure from the RN saw them get on the scoresheet in the 7th minute with hooker Ben Priddey the recipient after good lineout work to score out wide out on the touchline, the conversion attempt pushed just wide (score 0-5). With both teams trying to run the ball on a perfect night the Light Blues found themselves running into a Dark Blue wall of Navy defenders who were putting in some huge hits. Priddey was on hand to finish the RN's second try in the 25th minute, again wide out on the right touchline after some great handling skills, the conversion was landed by Greg Loydall (score 0-12). The third score came just two minutes after the restart with an RN flowing backline move which gave right wing Troy Gobey the room he needed to sprint 60m interspersed with some great footwork to score.  The conversion was again good from Loydall (score 0-19). Shortly before the halftime whistle Cambridge got a foothold in the game using the strength of their driving maul to score a pushover try on 35 minutes, the conversion fell short (score 5-19)

Halftime score Cambridge University 5, Royal Navy 19. As this was the second of three trial games, the RN made several changes at halftime to ensure all players had a 'fair crack' and some game time to impress the coaches.

The second half started much as the first had ended with a strong catch and drive from the Cambridge forwards, carried on with a number of powerful carries that left an overlap on the left wing to leave a virtual walk in for the Light Blue backs to score, the conversion going just wide. (score 10-19). The next score in this exciting end to end match went the way of the Senior Service after 46 minutes.  After a great break in the midfield Cooper was on hand to score the try despite a trip from a Cambridge player which saw him receive the game’s first yellow card. The conversion was good from Matt Horton (score 10-26). The next 20 minutes saw both sides try to gain inroads into the other’s half but resolute defending by both teams saw the score remain unchanged until the 74th minute.  And what a final 6 minutes it was!

Cambridge were by now camped on the Navy line and an unconverted try gave the University the sniff of a comeback (score 15-26). The Light Blues, with their tails up, were soon on the offensive again and a series of penalty offences saw a yellow card for the RN's Williams for a 'team offence'. The resultant line out again saw a drive for the line and an unconverted try for the students (score 20-26). Into the final minute now and the much changed RN side were defending as if their lives depended on it, after waves of attacks from Cambridge the pressure finally told as the clock turned red and Cambridge scored about 10m to the left of the RN posts, however there was still the conversion to come and the Cambridge kicker had missed all of his previous attempts. With everyone holding their breath the kicker scuffed his effort but it somehow just scraped between the uprights to give Cambridge the win 27-26.

A hugely enjoyable game to watch albeit an ultimately frustrating ending for the RN.

Final score: Cambridge University 27, Royal Navy 26

The next match for the Royal Navy Rugby Union Senior XV is away at Esher RFC on Wed 20 Feb kick off 1930, spectators are welcome and entry is free.

Team list: 1. PO B Roden 2. LPT B Priddey (team captain) 3. SLt J Terry 4. AET H Wilkinson 5. AET S Makepeace 6. AB J Kirwan 7. Mne W Scott 8. LCpl J Hayler 9. Cpl K Bridgen 10. AET G Loydall 11. AET B Chambers 12. ETMESM S Benzie 13. Lpt E Myers 14, LCpl T Gobey 15. Mne C Duncan 16. ETME L Williams 17. AET S Vernon 18. Mne C Robinson 19. AET B Illsely 20. Lt J Burton 21. SLt D Johnson 22. SLt M Spencer 23. ETMESM C Cone

Words: Lt Paul Clark
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton