U23s Conquer Ivybridge RFC in Bedrenched Battle; Heavy Hitters Seal the Deal
RN U23 XV
After an October weekend when the majority of the South was bathed in warm sunshine and people were taking to the beach for one last sunbathing session, you would be forgiven for thinking that the latest match for the RN U23s would be played in warm and gentle conditions, perfect for end to end running rugby!
Sadly, the weather gods had other ideas and a decent crowd turned up to Ivybridge’s Cross in Hand ground in a damp mist which soon turned into persistent rain. A big thank you to Ivybridge RFC for hosting this fixture after the original opponents had to withdraw, and like in previous encounters between the two sides it was a close and enthralling match.
The misty rain made handling difficult both in open play and in the lineouts for both sides and rather worryingly for the RN the first few high balls sent in their direction were put down and the first few lineouts lost. However after this initial nerve settling period was navigated without conceding any points, the team went about their work with great enthusiasm and effort with the scrum in particular looking very strong and composed.
It took nearly twenty minutes before the scoring deadlock was broken, with an RN line break through the Ivybridge midfield followed by some swift handling that saw left wing Callard put into space to dot down in the corner. This was followed a few minutes later with a penalty from RN fly half Mayes to make the score Ivybridge 0 - 8 RN. An Ivybridge penalty kick narrowed the score in the 32nd minute but most of the pressure was now coming from the Navy team. They were awarded a penalty in the Ivybridge 22 which was taken quickly by scrum half Attwood; the ball was moved to the left wing again and Callard was on hand to add his second try of the half.
HT score Ivybridge 3 – 13 RN U23s
The rain came down much heavier in the second half and with Ivybridge bringing on some big forwards at the break they began to wrestle control back from the RN. However, some of the tackling and breakdown efforts from both the RN backs and forwards was very impressive.
The opening score of the half went to the hosts after sustained pressure in the RN redzone: they went over for a converted try. Ivybridge 10 - 13 RN. The weather then somewhat took control of the game with handling errors from both sides who, to their credit, were still trying to play running rugby on the 4G surface.
Another 20 minutes would pass before the next score with RN Mariners scrum half Ryan Cox on for Ivybridge using his experience and skill to keep his team moving forward. A dangerous tackle in front of the RN posts led to a relatively simple shot at goal for the home team to level the score at 13 apiece.
Despite being a little under the cosh the RN team rallied and made their way up field where some sustained pressure and good handling saw the ball pushed to the left edge (a bit of a theme on the night) to Callard who gratefully took his hat trick try.
The final score of the game went to Ivybridge who slotted a penalty with a few minutes to go to make the final score Ivybridge 16 – 18 RN U23s.
The player of the match was an easy choice with hat trick hero left wing Ben Callard taking the honours.
Team Manager Guy Pallett said, "It was a fast paced game in which the coaching team had the chance to see a few newer faces play to add to the decision making for the Inter Service Squad. There are a few points to work on but overall we are happy with a win."
Echoing these sentiments, U23s ADoR Owen Salmon said, "It was a great team performance against a strong Ivybridge side. We managed to look at a few new players and they all acquitted themselves well. You could see the shape in attack is developing but I think the most pleasing aspect was our defence, especially in the 2nd half when Ivybridge brought some of experienced heads on at half time. I was proud that they battled hard, were physical and gave no quarter resulting in a well deserved victory. Credit must go to the coaches for instilling resilience within the squad. We are looking forward to our last warm up fixture against Portsmouth University on 3 Nov as a Friday Night Lights event at Burnaby Road, hopefully it will draw a large crowd to cheer the boys on."
Royal Navy U23s: S Brittle, B Rees, C Davies; C Kerr (VC), J Donaldson; A Duffield, M Bettridge, J Morrison; C Attwood, H Mayes, B Callard, J Hoffman (C), H Johnson, J Nolan, J Davis (VC).
Replacements: C Postle, J Turnham, N Drew, T Oram, W Findley, S Griffiths, M Criddle, L Warren, W Brown, K Cuthbertson.
Words by P Clark; Images by J Hulm