Cdo Logs Power to Navy Sevens Win
It was evident from the first match, at the 2015 Royal Navy Rugby Union Sevens, that Cdo Logs Regt RM were going to be the team to beat. Navy and Navy Sharks player, Ratu Vakalutukali, had brought a team that throughout the day blanketed their opposition with a smothering defence that forced turnovers. With ball in hand that had a blend of power and pace that ensured that they regularly found the opposition's defence weak points on the way to a number of high scoring victories and an eventual tournament win.
With a number of players held up by a serious road traffic accident, the 2015 RNRU Sevens, hosted once more at Weymouth RFC, had a delayed start. A deceptively cold wind did not subdue expectations as the tournament kicked off with the customary league format before the knock out stages. In Pool A it was HMNB Portsmouth who proved to be the front runners as they eased into the competition with a straight forward victory over University Royal Navy Unit B. Their second opponents were HMS Talent, the only representative from the Fleet. Though the submariners were always on the back foot in the match they made the Naval Base work hard for their victory in what turned out to be a closer than expected encounter. The battle of the ports proved to be the best match in Pool A with the result always in doubt. However with both sides having shared six tries it was Portsmouth who triumphed over Devonport by a slim 2 point margin.
Finally a routine victory over HMS Collingwood ensured that HMNB Portsmouth were unbeaten in the pool stages and topped the group. Despite a moral boosting victory over HMS Collingwood, it was URNU B that finished bottom of Pool A and were eliminated from the competition.
With only four teams in Pool B, all knew that they would be in the quarterfinals. All that was required was to establish the seedings. Like HMNB Portsmouth, Cdo Log RM remained unbeaten in the pool stages. The surprise of the Pool stages was RNAS Culdrose. Despite a number of familiar faces from the representative ranks of Navy Rugby they failed to get their game firing at Weymouth. Although they were able to defeat URNU A by a single score they lost their other two games to Cdo Logs and also to HMS Sultan which meant a tricky quarter final draw against HMNB Portsmouth. In the rest of the draw UNRU A faced HMNB Devonport, HMS Collingwood were drawn against Cdo Logs RM and HMS Talent were to be first up against HMS Sultan.
With Culdrose’s fortunes not improving they were despatched, unceremoniously from the competition by HMNB Portsmouth in a match where the Naval Base were never fully tested in their 29-10 win. Across on pitch 2 HMS Sultan proved too strong for the submariners and eased to a 34-7 win.
In the other half of the draw HMS Collingwood were unable to find a chink in Cdo Logs RM defence as they bowed out of the tournament with a 31-0 loss. Cdo Logs RM then had to wait to have their semi final opponents confirmed as a remarkable comeback by URNU A forced their game against Devonport to go to a sudden death play off. Unfortunately for the students the effort they had so gallantly expended securing their last two trie,s forcing over time through the last kick of the game, proved too much. From the start of the extra time period, HMNB Devonport monopolised possession and as the space opened in the URNU A defence they crossed for the match deciding try.
The semi finals went the way of the Pool stages formbook. Cdo Logs RM proved too strong for HMNB Devonport and the 38-7 win could have been by more. Though HMS Sultan made HMNB Portsmouth work harder for their victory, 27-14, the game was always under Portsmouth’s control. And so to the final, could HMNB Portsmouth lift their game to meet the formidable challenge of Cdo Logs RM in the final?
The answer was emphatic from the Royal Marine side; no. Saving their best play for the final they took and early grip on the match and never let go. Seven tries with none conceded told its own story as Cdo Logs Regt RM confirmed their early promise as the class sevens team of the tournament. It was a very strong team effort with no individual player standing out. However, in the shorter format of the game there are not many tight head props who hold their own, so with the last try of the tournament, it was probably fitting that former Navy prop Mark Owen had the final say at the end of a long day of rugby as he put an emphatic marker down for the Front Row Union.
With the Navy Sharks continuing their representative programme through the summer the sevens game is sure to remain in the spotlight before the Autumn term sees both the RN U23s and the Senior XV in action in what is already looking to be a very busy September and October of Navy Rugby. Full details are on the RNRU website.
The images from the day can be viewed on the History of Navy Rugby by Alligin Photography website by clicking here.
Article by Geraint Ashton Jones
Images Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones