The Royal Navy bounced back from disappointment in Toulon with an emphatic 77 - 5 win over Combined London Old Boys (CLOB) at Richmond Athletic Ground last night. From the earliest exchanges it was evident that the Navy possessed too much pace for CLOB and it was therefore no surprise when hooker NA Ben Priddey (RNAS Culdrose) finished off a move that started in his own half for the first score after less than 3 minutes.
Time and time again the Navy looked to move the ball from any area on the pitch and the work rate of the players ensured that there was always support options for the ball carrier. With CLOB defenders often faced with three Navy players attacking their channel, it was little wonder that their lines were breached and the Navy managed to get in behind them. More tries followed from POPT Les Dennis (HMS Nelson), Cpl Calum Macrae (CTCRM), debutant Mne Owen Glastonbury (SEME Borden), Mne Dennis Scothorne (42 Cdo RM) and AB Dale Sleeman (HMS Cumberland).
Although the first half was obviously pleasing to the Navy coaching team and supporters alike, it wasn't just through the quality of the play. The game saw NA Kyle Mason (RNAS Yeovilton) return to the Navy shirt in his first 20 minutes of rugby since January. Kyle's sharpness and scrummaging was a tribute to the rehabilitation work he has done under physio Pippa Gibbs and conditioning coach POPT Sean Cole (both HMS Nelson). The Navy also welcomed back Mne Richie Mayson (SFSG) at fullback, another long term injured player, and also Cpl Damo Chambers (CTCRM) who broke his hand in the first match of the season. Though both were a little rusty, they showed that they would soon be back to their best and in contention for Inter Service honours.
The second half saw the Navy team maintain the tempo and despite hard work to keep their structure, it was evident that the match was getting quite loose. This allowed CLOB some opportunities to counter attack and probe the Navy defence, which on the whole stood firm. However, late in the half the CLOB scrum half was rightly rewarded for his purposeful sniping all evening when he darted over for a deserved try following a quickly taken penalty. This was merely consolation as the Navy had already added to their first half tally with tries again through Glastonbury and Sleeman. Indeed Glastonbury marked his Navy debut by scoring four tries and demonstrating an awareness of space and a balanced running style to exploit it. He has clearly thrown down a selection challenge to the Navy coaches.
Commenting after the game Navy DoR, Lt Cdr Geraint Ashton Jones (NCHQ) said "We are naturally pleased with the win but with Gogledd 1404 on Tuesday (away in North Wales) we know that we must improve on our accuracy in attack and also ensure that we take the defence we showed in Toulon into the game. They have already beaten three Premiership Academy teams so will be a very good test as to where we are with our preparation. Tonight it was good to see some of our more senior players returning from injury and also the youngsters like Dennis Scothorne making an impression from second row, and Mike Egglestone continuing his development. Jonny Stephen was back at scrum half and he is another youngster who is progressing and pressurizing the likes of Navy skipper Dave Pascoe. Glastonbury only joined us this morning and has clearly made an impression; he undoubtedly has a future at this level and has been championed by the Royal Marines coaching staff - tonight he provided ample evidence as to why."