Bath United v Royal Navy Senior XV – 3 April
The Royal Navy returned after many years to one of the most famous grounds in the country, Bath RFC, ‘The Rec'. The Navy coming off of a dominant performance over the Irish Defence Forces, took on a Bath United team that had several players who had experienced Premiership rugby this season.
The skies threatened rain all day which eventually arrived just before kick-off which was to cause difficulties for both sides during the evening.
From the kick-off Bath attacked with some strong running from the back row, and good support and off-loading in the tackle kept the Navy pinned in its own 22m. After 11 minutes of pressure Bath found a hole to score the first converted try of the evening 7-0.
Following this early pressure the Navy came back into the game with Capt Tom Glover RM (CTCRM) returning after a 4 week rest playing at fly half challenging the Bath defensive line before putting back row MA Sam Laird (HMS Collingwood) through the gap. Several phase of play followed and Bath was penalised for an infringement at the break down which gave Navy Skipper POAET Dave Pascoe (RNAS Culdrose) an opportunity to pull the score back to 7-3, a task in which he succeeded.
From a penalty, Bath gained a lineout on the Navy 5m line but this was disrupted by the Navy and another returnee to the side, Sgt Gareth Evans (1ASRM) took the ball only to be ‘dump tackled' by the Bath scrum half that earned the Navy a penalty and him a 10 min rest.
With Bath down to 14 men the Navy pressured the Bath back 3 and forced a hasty kick from inside their 22m; Glover charged down the kick which gave the Navy a 7-10 lead following a converted try.
Just before half time Pascoe gave the Navy a 6 point lead following a penalty from the touch line: 7-13 half time score.
Changes in the second half saw the appearance of Mne J Foster (40 Cdo RM) and Mne B Fox (45 Cdo RM) at scrum half and in the back row. However, it was to be Bath who came off the starting blocks quicker to produce a period of sustained pressure on the Navy line which lead to the referee awarding Bath a penalty try 14 -13.
It was not long before Bath was on the score sheet again as a well worked move put them under the Navy posts for a converted try 21-13.
POAET Marsh Cormack (RNAS Yeovilton), who had been struggling for some time, was eventually replaced by NA (AH) J Quarnivalu (RNAS Culdrose) in the Navy 2nd Row. ‘Man of the Match' in the victory over the Irish Defence Forces, Quarnivalu started as he had finished that game with powerful running and strong defence.
It was Bath's turn to ring the changes which led to some scintillating running by the Bath back line, giving them an unconverted try in the corner 26-13 (50 minutes).
In the last 30 minutes of this bruising encounter the Navy conceded another 2 unconverted tries to end the game 36 -13.
Navy Director of Rugby Lt Cdr Andy Kellett RN and his coaching team should be proud of the performance of the Navy side and can take a great deal of positives from the fixture. Along with the return of several key players, this should set the Navy on a positive footing for their first of three ‘capped' fixtures against the Marine Nationale in Toulon in a week's time.
RN Senior XV Squad
Lt T Blackburn RN (RNAS Yeovilton), Lt D Smith RN (HMS Vanguard), AET K Beasley (RNAS Culdrose), S/Lt H Mitchell-Heggs RN (HMS Sultan), POAET M Cormack (RNAS Yeovilton), AET G Jones (HMNB Portsmouth), MA S Laird (HMS Collingwood), Sgt G Evans (1ASRM), POAET D Pascoe (Capt) (RNAS Culdrose), Capt T Glover RM (CTCRM), AET B Clarke (RNAS Yeovilton), Mne N Huntley (40 Cdo RM), AETA Hunt (RNAS Culdrose), AET J Humphrey (RNAS Yeovilton)
Mne D Taylor (42 Cdo RM), ET (ME) J Parry (HMS Monmouth), AET R Metcalfe (RNAS Yeovilton), Mne B Fox (45 Cdo RM), Mne S Raumakita (42 Cdo RM), Mne J Foster (40 Cdo RM), AB D Bamford (HMS Dragon), NA (AH) J Quarnivalu (RNAS Culdrose), ET (WE) I Cooper (HMS Ambush)