Ancient Mariners v Havant
The second match of the RNRU Vetterans XXXV season was against a familiar foe in Havant RFC who, historically, have proven worthy and difficult opponents in years gone by. The training day had gone to plan with WO Glen Humphreys coordinating the team and Head Coach LT Mick Connolly, working the team hard to develop a well structured game plan.
Conditions were hard although bitterly cold and this was somehow reflected in the RN's performance. Good field position gained by the deft boot of the Havant No 10 led to a scrum 10 yards out with the RN put in. Bad communication led to the Havant scrum half poaching the ball to feed the No 8 a simple pass to score out wide. after 9 minutes the RN found themselves 5-0 down.
Although the RN made some inroads in to the Havant defence with strong runs from CPO Rick Astley, who was a safe pair of hands all night, further pressure and a forced pass led to Navy stand off. Midshipman (Desig) Joe Ainsley, gifting the Havant centre an open field pass to score under the post - Havant in the lead 12-0 after 15 minutes.
The RN galvanised themselves quickly with Astley, Cpl Dom O'Connor and CPO Dave Sibson making driving runs into the Havant 22. Quick hands and open field running finished with a clinically executed try by WO Bob Toomey (coverted). With the remainder of the half becoming disjointed and scrappy, the score stood 12-7 to Havant at half time.
With several changes to the team at half time, the RN lost any sort of composure it had gained with the early score. Camped in their own 22 for long periods due to good field position by Havant, continued pressure finally brought a result when quick ball and a Navy mistake led to the Havant centre scoring under the posts: the Navy now 19-7 down with pride to play for.
No matter what the RN tried, mistakes, poor handling and a lack of penetration consistently led to moves breaking down or balls being knocked forward. No further breakthrough for the remaining 20 minutes led to the score being 19-7 to a very happy, disciplined and contented Havant team.
Head coach Mick Connolly put the loss down to the team not being "street wise" and th game being played in a pedestrian way. He exhorted the team to work at their fitness and to be prepared for an important set up when the team meet the Prison Service on Wed 3 March 10 at Burnaby road. Mick presented the front row of CPO Ewan Cowie, CPOMA Kev Boulton and CPO George Hillan with the man of the match awards.