HMS Liverpool Vs HMS Sultan - Navy Cup 1st Round
Since losing in the semi-final of the Navy Cup last year, HMS Liverpool has been unbeaten on the recent deployment to America during Op Auriga. The last year has seen the squad strengthen throughout and with crushing scores over HMS Daring and MWS Collingwood since returning to the UK; the ‘Red Rooster' is now a team taken seriously as challengers for the Navy Cup.
The draw in the first round was HMS Sultan, a mighty team which has been regular finalists in the competition. The game was played at HMS Temeraire on a clear evening under floodlights and got off to a bad start for the boys in red. Early pressure and fantastic kick returns from HMS Sultan's back three made sure that they did not leave HMS Liverpool's half. As they piled on the pressure a chip and chase into the 22 saw a bad bounce for covering full back and Navy player CPO Wayne ‘Cowboy' John and the ball slipped from his grasp into the hands of a Sultan players hand for an easy touch down that was unsuccessfully converted The talk under the sticks was positive and the Roosters knew they had to reverse the pressure.
Straight from the kick off, HMS Sultan retrieved possession and managed to break out wide from long range to score in the corner for a well worked try. 10-0 down with only 10 minutes before half time the Red Roosters needed a break before half time. The break came their way when CS ‘Naz' Rawace took the ball blind from the base of a ruck and rounded the defence drawing the covering tacklers and feeding a neat pass inside to Cowboy who left the full back for dead. With the conversion unsuccessful and a penalty missed the score was now 10-5 to HMS Sultan.
With the pressure now being put on by the Roosters' pack and strong carries by AB Josh Tetaur and ET(WE) Bagsy Baker, the Roosters found themselves within metres of the Maroons' line. Quick ruck play followed by a wide flat pass saw CPO Dane Smallbone forced into the corner for a try. A conversion by Taff Davies, which Johnny Wilkinson would have been proud of, saw the Roosters take the lead and enter half time 12-10.
In the second half the Roosters settled into their game plan and piled on further pressure in HMS Sultans half. It was now the turn of the Roosters back three to show how clinical they can be on the counter attack when a clearance kick was fielded by AB Tom ‘Taff' Davies and fed to Lt Wooton on the wing. His tactical kick was neatly gathered by LPTI Christopher ‘Ginge' Reeves who took on a couple of defenders before chipping through. The ball took an awkward bounce past the covering full back and straight into the hands of Dane Smallbone who had a clear run under the sticks. A successful conversion gave the Roosters a 19-10 lead.
The pressure then swung back HMS Sultan's way with the Roosters conceding penalties through poor discipline. With great hands through their backs and metres to the try line, the ball was floated out to one of HMS Sultan's prop forwards; with only fresh air in front of him, the ball agonisingly dropped out of his grasp, denying him what was clearly a certain try, but providing a life line for the Roosters. HMS Sultan's frustration soon started to take its toll with 2 of their team receiving 10 minutes each in the sin bin. This gave the Roosters an opportunity to exert further pressure in HMS Sultan's half from LS(CIS) Ben ‘Peachy' Peacham and AB Robbie Fowler, both proving strong with ball in hand, but Sultan dug their heels in and unfortunately the Roosters only came away with an extra 3 points. The Roosters were now leading 22-10 with the clock counting down, a chip into the corner gave HMS Sultan a lineout 5 metres from their own line, the Roosters contested and forced an error and the ball fumbled across the try line for AB(CIS) Andrew Johns to score and put the final nail in the coffin for the Roosters.
The tightly fought, but entertaining game of Navy Cup rugby finished 27-10 in the Roosters favour.
A huge ‘thank you' must go to the enthusiastic supporters from the stumpy Type 42 Destroyer, proving that there's a lot of fighting spirit in the old dog yet.
HMS LIVERPOOL - 27
T: Smallbone (2), John, Johns
C: Smallbone, Davies
HMS SULTAN - 10
T: Taylor (2)