Inter Command Final and 3rd/4th Play-Off
Royal Marines v Naval Air Command
Yet again the Inter Command final was to be between the Naval Air Command (NAC) and the Royal Marines. However, the teams had reached this stage by very different routes; the NAC showing the class of having a number of RN Senior capped players and a great many up and coming U23s, who are destined to be involved in the RN Senior XV Training camp. The Royal Marines on the other hand, had played only one hard fought game, albeit that it went into extra time; they were yet to step up to the level that saw them gain the Inverdale Trophy the year before.
From the kick off, the Marines were under direct pressure from the NAC and only the desperate defence from fly half Capt (Tom) Glover saved an early try. The NAC dominated both the lineout and the scrum set pieces, which meant that the Marines had little from which to work.
The NAC finally cracked the Marines' defence by moving the ball to the middle of the field from a set piece and then reversing the attack down the blind side that put flanker AET Jones (HMS Nelson) in at the corner for an unconverted try 0-5.
Good work and pressure from the Marines' forwards following the kick off pushed the NAC into their own half and this lead to a penalty, which was converted by Glover 3-5.
The usual slick NAC back play was not functioning as well as it had been seen during the early stages of the competition, and the Marines defence led by Scrum Half Sgt (Mark) Maddocks forced the NAC into uncharacteristic mistakes.
However, through their dominance at lineout and scrum, the NAC forward pressure eventually led to a NAC penalty, which gave AET Humphries an opportunity to increase the NAC lead 3-8. The remainder of the half was a battle between the kickers as first Glover brought the score back to 6-8 and then Humphries ended the half by converting another: 6-11 (half time).
The start of the 2nd half provided clear evidence that, despite being out-scrummaged, this young team from the Marines had no shortage of commitment; again and again they forced errors from the NAC, but unfortunately this inevitably played into the hands of NAC whose dominace in the scrum was beginning to tell.
Breaks from Hunt, Humphries and ‘Man of the Match' Priddey caused the Marines problems but defensively they kept the NAC away from their goal line. Glover was to close the gap to 2 points after the NAC was caught off-side; 9-11. Not one to give up, it was Glover who again tested the NAC with a long range attempt from the half way line. Despite missing the penalty, Glover attempted a ‘Wilkinson-esk' drop goal in the dying minutes of the match, only for it to be charged down by the NAC centres.
The NAC kept the Marines pinned down in their own half through effective, penetrating kicks by Humphries. Kicking the ball into touch, the final whistle blew and NAC claimed the 2011/12 Inter Command title and Inverdale Trophy by a slim 2 point margin.
The Inverdale Trophy was presented to NAC Captain NA (Ben) Priddey by Mr John Inverdale som of late Surg Capt Inverdale.
Final Score RM 9 - 11 NAC
Cpl O'Gorman, Mne Taubale, Cpl Mason, Cpl Holliday, L/Cpl Thurston, Mne Fox, Mne Davies, Mne Theophanides (Capt), Sgt Maddocks, Capt, Glover, Capt Sayer, Cpl Mills, Mne Ruamakita, Mne Daku, Cpl Wadham
Mne Brennand, Mne Warwick, Mne Perkins, Mne Foster, Mne Huntley, Cpl Evans, Mne Crump
Naval Air Commnd
NA Mason, NA Priddey (Capt), AET Beasley, NA Quarntvalu (All RNAS Culdrose), PO Mortenson (RNAS Yeovilton), AET Jones (HMS Nelson), PO Thompson (RNAS Yeovilton), LAET Cox (RNAS Culdrose), AET Humphries (RNAS Yeovilton), Mne Houghton (RNAS Yeovilton), PO Hunter (HMS Sultan), NA Hunt (RNAS Culdrose), LPT Platt(RNAS Culdrose), Lt Vance (HMS Sultan)
AET Metcalf (RNAS Yeovilton), CPO Cowie (RNAS Culdrose), AET MacMillian (RNAS Yeovilton), NA Matanabu (HMS Ocean), AET Madigan (RNAS Yeovilton), AET Clay (HMS Sutan), AET Jaenkins (RNAS Yeovilton)
RN Inter Command 3rd/4th Play-Off 2011/12 Portsmouth Command v Plymouth Command
Earlier in the day and following a hard week of rugby, these 2 Command teams had proven that the Inter Command Competition is still an effective way of showcasing up and coming talent and must be seen as one of the more competitive Service competitions.
Portsmouth Command had started the week against RN Scotland who arrived at the competition with only 13 players. In keeping with the spirit of the competition, other Command squads lent players to Scotland to ensure that their matches could go ahead. Portsmouth did well to eventually dispatch a reluctant RN Scotland team, which would set them up for a semi final against the holders, the Royal Marines. After 80 minutes of true Command rugby the teams could not be separated and it took 97 minutes before the Marines booked their place in the final and gave Portsmouth a 3rd/4th Play-off fixture against Plymouth.
Plymouth Command, on the other hand, had started the week being overrun by the strength of the Naval Air Command (NAC). They then returned the favour by a similar score against RN Scotland. This meant a semi-final meeting with the NAC, who by this stage, were then firm favourites to win the competition. Plymouth took this as a challenge and provided a fantastic game for the spectators. They pushed and pressed the NAC into mistakes and it was only the fact that they eventually ‘ran out of gas' that allowed NAC go from a 10-6 half time lead to an eventual 32-6 final score.
The play-off match was set to be a ‘last man standing' affair, with Portsmouth coming out of a brutal 100 minute game against the Marines and Plymouth now starting their 4th game in 4 days.
From the kick-off both teams sent a clear message that this was not going to be an easy game. The contact area was a battlefield and every confrontation left a player on the ground, keeping the Physios from both teams very busy.
Plymouth's No 8, LET Hillman (HMS Torbay) was again at the forefront of both the Plymouth attack and defence; after 5 minutes Hillman crossed the Portsmouth line for the first try which was converted by Mne Main (HMS Ocean) 0-7.
Portsmouth closed the gap after 13 minutes following a Plymouth infringement which was converted by their Full Back AB Davies (HMS Liverpool) 3-7.
It was to be Portsmouth again who after sustaining significant pressure from the Plymouth team, broke out from their half to score just before half time through Navy Scrum half CPO (Cowboy) Johns (HMS Nelson), converted by Davies. 10-7 at half time.
Having to move to US Portsmouth's pitch at half time due to an injury, the extra width played into Plymouth's hands as they moved the ball wide at every opportunity. The pressure became apparent as Portsmouth was reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes after only 3 minutes of the 2nd half. The advantage was seized by Plymouthand it was ‘Man of the Match' Hillman who scored his 2nd converted try of the game 10-14.
The Portsmouth line was constantly under pressure with little respite for the home team. Although great credit is due to both the Portsmouth team and the coaches as the defence was disciplined and aggressive.
With 10 minutes to go Plymouth Command sealed the game with another converted try to make the final score 10-21 and with it a well-deserved 3rd place in the 2011/12 Royal Navy Inter Command competition.
Portsmouth Command 10 - 21 Plymouth Command