Christmas Cheer Unlikely in Key Inverdale Challenge Matches

With both sides having already lost to the Fleet Air Arm the Royal Marines and Western Region are aware that if they are to make the final in January then they need a win when the two sides meet at CTCRM Lympstone on Wednesday.  In the other match a relatively inexperienced Fleet Air Arm side travel to meet the challenge of the Northern Region, still smarting from the narrow 13-12 loss to Western Region in Round 3.

In recent seasons it has been the Royal Marines who have dominated their fixture with Western Region but they will be well aware of the resurgence in Guzz this year.  With a comfortable win over Eastern and a very hard earned victory in Scotland, Western have cause to be pleased with their two from three record.  They will also be buoyed by the recent success of BRNC in the Navy Cup.  The Corps for their part are one win from two.  After the opening day loss to the Fleet Air Arm, they had a bye in Round 2 before producing the performance of the competition in comprehensively outplaying Eastern Region.  Having had two matches on the road they will also be looking forward to playing a home match at CTCRM Lympstone.

Both teams know that a win will almost assure them of a place in the final on January 28.  With Western chasing their first Inverdale title for a decade they will relish their undoubted underdog status. However they have already demonstrated that they can, on their day, produce rugby to challenge the dominance of the Royal Marines and the Fleet Air Arm.  Having felt they have already underperformed once during the tournament, the Corps will be keen to ensure that there aren’t any further mishaps as they seek a hat trick of Inverdale Challenge Trophy wins.

With Scotland due snow and strong winds on Wednesday the match is likely to be testing for both sides.  The Fleet Air Arm are two wins from two and remain favourites to be in the final.  However a second win for Northern Region would ensure that they travel to CTCRM Lympstone in round 5 with a place in the final as a prize.  For the Fleet Air Arm’s HMS Seahawk contingent the match is a welcome opportunity to put their Navy Cup Final disappointment behind them.  They are likely to form the core of the FAA pack and will welcome back the experienced leadership of Royal Navy lock forward Marsh Cormack.  The anticipated conditions may well play to their strengths.

With thoughts of many already drifting towards Christmas leave and the Season of Goodwill all four sides have their eyes on a New Year final but will need to attend to the job in hand first.  Neither Western nor Northern Region can expect much cheer from the Royal Marines and Fleet Air Arm’s packs.  But both sides have the experience throughout their teams to provide an upset and break the Royal Marines, Fleet Air Arm stranglehold.

Round 4 Matches:
Northern Region v Fleet Air Arm Wednesday 10 December 2014 KO12:00 Helensburgh
Royal Marines v Western Region Wednesday 10 December 2014 KO14:00 CTCRM Lympstone

Previous Results
Round 3: Eastern Region 0 – Royal Marines 61
Round 3: Northern Region 12 – Western Region 13
Round 2: Eastern Region 12 – Northern Region 13
Round 2: Western Region 15 – Fleet Air Arm 15
Round 1: Western Region 54 – Eastern Region 7
Round 1: Fleet Air Arm 40 – Royal Marines 21

Images by Alligin Photography / © John Walton& © Mark Andrews

Northern Region defeated Eastern 13-12 in Round 2 before losing by the same score at home to Western Region
Western Region lost to FAA but a win against the Royal Marines is likely to put them in the final
Fleet Air Arm are currently unbeaten with wins against the Royal Marines and Western Region
Royal Marines used the charity match against the Medics to put their disappointing first round loss behind them
61 answered points against Eastern by the Royal Marines was an ominous sign in round 3