HMS PORTLAND RFC in Muscat
Portland’s Ospreys strike deep in the heart of Arabian Gulf cup finalists HMS Portland arrived in Muscat on 7 May 2009. Following several e-mails and phone calls from the team manager and coach, LS Darren Stedman, to Muscat RFC Chairman Rich Harris the game was on. Before the 2nd match of the deployment could commence however, an intense training session and final positional assessment was required. Yet another phone call to Muscat RFC secured an invitation to use their training facilities and prepare on the same night as the Muscat side. Any excuse to spy on the opposition who have reached the Arabian Gulf cup final. PORTLAND took a squad of 25 players, mostly backs and newcomers to the game, but also the odd veteran! A gruelling training session was delivered by the coaching team in 40 degree C heat, but the enthusiasm remained high and it appeared there was the chance of a high-quality match. With all the pleasantries complete the match commenced and for the first 15 minutes Muscat looked like they were going to use Portland’s Ospreys as a warm up for their forthcoming cup final, as PORTLAND were 10-0 down. Finally Muscat conceded a penalty and LS Johnny kieller put Portland on the score board. This score galvanised the team and supporters and ‘fired up’ Portland’s Ospreys who quickly realised that they could actually win. Two tries in quick succession from LS kieller and Llogs Kietch helped but Muscat realised they had a game on their hands and this wasn’t going to be a walkover, so they responded by upping their tempo and passing the ball wide to utilise their speedy 16 year old winger! The Ospreys now found themselves on the back foot and had to defend stoutly but let Muscat in after a gruelling assault for them to take the lead once again 17-13 at half time. PORTLAND started the second half with some fine running rugby, with Marine LCpl Jase Griessel the on loan springbok, smashing through the Muscat defence only to find that winger AB Murray dropped his pass 5 yards from the line! Not to be outdone Muscat’s capped international kicked deep into Portland’s half and Muscat went on the rampage once again with the Osprey’s making some earth shattering defensive tackles to recover the ball, only for a sliced kick to put the ball into touch. Muscat from a well drilled set piece lineout scored an unconverted try, with the score now at 22-13 and 10 min left on the clock Muscat thought that their last try was the decider but PORTLAND put Muscat under the cosh once again with the pack ‘steam rollering’ back into Muscat’s half and a dazzling side step from the team captain LS kieller opening up Muscat’s defence then off loading to Llogs Keitch to score in the final seconds leaving LS Kieller to convert the try. The final score: Muscat RFC 22 HMS Portland’s Ospreys 20 in a well contested match.