Weekend run out for HMS Westminster
Plymstock Albion v HMS Westminster
HMS Westminster, alongside for a weekend in Plymouth during her Post Upkeep Sea Trials, took the opportunity to play a fixture against local side Plymstock Albion Oaks RFC. The Ship's team enjoyed the opportunity to get out and play but it was the local side that got the better of them, winning 34-12.
The team, accompanied by a good number of Ship's Company spectators, arrived early to set some basic patterns, before kicking off on a cold afternoon which threatened snow. Oddly for a Ship’s team Westminster found themselves in a position where they were lending players to the opposition, with Lieutenant Slater and Able Seaman May volunteering to don the Plymstock green shirt to bring both teams up to 15 players.
Westminster defended well in the early stages, forcing the Oaks back and into making errors which gave the Ship some good platforms, especially from the uncontested scrums, from which to attack. Unfortunately the slight lack of familiarity and recent game experience meant Westminster often couldn’t capitalise on these opportunities, or at the very least get the clean ball they desired. Some good opportunities were created though, with Leading Engineering Technician Mills having one barnstorming run which took him from inside his own half to the opposition 22. Unfortunately he couldn’t quite time the pass to Number 8 Lieutenant Andrews, who would have gone in unchallenged.
In contrast the Oaks, who had clearly had a bit more time together, were able to put some nice moves together, and despite a long period of good defence from Westminster, Oaks scored 3 tries in the last 20 minutes of the first half, making the score 17-0. This defensive spell took its toll with Westminster losing Senior Chief Parker USCG and Able Seaman Hickman to injury.
At half time Westminster re-set and resolved to focus on communication and continuing the commitment they were showing, especially in defence and in support play. Unfortunately Westminster conceded a bizarre early try. After a kick ahead, a desperate scrabble for the ball ensued, with the ball being kicked again but this time backwards over Westminster’s own try line for a Plymstock player to dot down easily.
Despite this misfortune, Westminster raised their game and were the dominant side for long periods in the second half. A number of close drives near the line, with the ball being ‘held up’ on more than one occasion, led to Number 8 Andrews going over to get Westminster on the board, with the score at 22-5.
Plymstock responded with a converted try, but Westminster were still holding their own, and arguably continued to be the dominant team. Having tightened up after half time a further series of drives led to Mills driving over from close range. Chief Bosun’s Mate Petty Officer Halls, playing at blindside flanker, stepped up to take the conversion and miraculously slotted the ball between the posts, making the score 29-12 in Plymstock’s favour.
Plymstock managed to score the last try of the game after Westminster were turned over attempting a late flourish by running the ball from near their own line. The conversion was missed making the final score 34-12.
HMS Westminster are very grateful to Plymstock Albion Oaks for agreeing to the fixture at short notice, and for their exceptional hosting after the game which culminated in watching England beat Wales 16-21 in the 6 Nations. Westminster now look forward to their next match in a few weeks' time with confidence after a much improved second half performance.
Team List: LET(ME) Jospeh, AB(WS) Hickman, LET(ME) Mills, PO(UW) Flack, LET(ME) Dugard, PO(SEA) Halls, LS Johnstone (Capt), Lt Andrews, ET(ME) Clissold, Snr Chief Parker USCG, SC Waugh, AB Norris, ET(ME) Mazzanati, ET(ME) Armstrong, AB(WS) Stretton Replacements: AB May, Lt Slater, LET(WE) Baker, SLt Priestley, AB (WS) Emmerson
Words and Images by Simon Priestley