In Command – Who Will Challenge Royal’s Recent Supremacy

Johnny Stephen launches another West attack in last season’s Inverdale Challenge match v East
East couldn’t break down the West’s robust defence
West’s forwards regularly made ground with strong running a the heart of East’s defence
Nathan Huntley led his side to a second consecutive title and the Royal Marines will be looking to make it a hat trick of wins
The incessant rain did not stop the Royal Marines looking to play attacking rugby
The Fleet Air Arm could not cope with Dave Fairbrother’s running from the base of the scrum

Tomorrow sees the start of the 2014/15 Inverdale Challenge competition with the Royal Marines looking for a third consecutive win and a seventh title in total.  They open their defence away to the Fleet Air Arm, a repeat of last year’s final.  In Plymouth, RN West host RN East, in the battle of the ports and after last season’s impressive win on the road will look to keep the bragging rights for another season.

Last year the Fleet Air Arm were probably thankful that the monsoon like conditions kept the score down because the 31-15 winning margin could have been more as they tried in vain to match the intensity of Nathan Huntley’s Royal Marines side.  With both sides able to call on a number of Royal Navy players the match will provide an early indication of the likely strength in depth of the Royal Navy team.  However, the senior players will know that every year the Inverdale Challenge games unearth a couple of players who take their opportunity to push for senior honours.  Last year it was Number 8, Dave Fairbrother, whose strong running repeatedly splintered the Fleet Air Arm defence and who went on to win his senior cap later in the season. 

The second game will be played on Keyham’s artificial surface, which continues to provide an excellent surface for running rugby.  Last season it was West who were in control throughout to record a deserved away victory 39-20.  However if East can tap in to this season’s success of US Portsmouth, currently unbeaten at the top of their league, then they should travel in good spirits.

All four sides will be looking to make a winning start to the tournament.  Next week RN North are hosted at Burnaby Rd, by RN East in round 2 of the competition whilst the Fleet Air Arm travel to RN West.  The Royal Marines have a bye but anyone in the Plymouth area will have the opportunity to see them on Tuesday 4 Nov at Plymouth Albion’s Brickfield ground in their annual Medics Charity match against Pennisular Medical School.

Fleet Air Arm v Royal Marines, HMS Seahawk KO 14:00 29 Oct 2014

Royal Navy West v Royal Navy East, Keyham, KO 19:00 29 Oct 2014

Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & © John Walton