Naval Select XV v NZ Police

Matt Bowden delivered another creditable performance
Ash Coates coached the Commonwealth Navy Barbarians
Kye Beasley and Mark Jones delivered a workmanlike performance in the frontrow.
Rich Cadywould continued his assured kicking performance.
Sam Favies enjoying his Barbarians Try!
Dave Fairbrother continued to look for holes in defence.

Match Report: Naval Select XV (“Baa-baas”) v NZ Police, Fri 3 Oct 14, Kick-off 1430

Yet again, a strong wind was blowing across the pitch at Ngataringa as the teams ran out for the start of this keenly-awaited game between the best of the Navies teams from the past 2 weeks and the NZ Police Force – a team renowned for playing high-quality rugby. This time, however, the wind was the strongest we had yet experienced, steadily blowing at about Force 5/6, and it was accompanied by intermittent, but ferocious rain-showers….

The RN contingent mustered 6 of the starting line-up, with one more on the bench and, a proud moment for this veteran and stalwart of RN rugby, Marsh Cormack had been selected as captain.

The Baa-baas kicked-off and the early minutes saw both teams trying to establish themselves: in the conditions; on their opponents; and, in the case of the Baa-baas with just a single training session behind them – as a team.

The Police were awarded two early penalties but were unable to convert either of their kicks at goal as their No10 struggled to adjust to the wind. Then, on 7 minutes the Police scored the first try of the afternoon, just left of the posts. It was a forwards try: 7 or 8 phases of play, in which they repeatedly attacked the short side of the breakdown, before finally finding a gap in the tackling. No mistake with this, rather more straight-forward kick. 7-0 to the Police. Already, Kye Beasley from the RN was catching the eye for a workmanlike performance: 3 tackles made and plenty of counter-rucking work.

Four minutes later and the Police scored again. This was a well-worked backs try, with Nos 10 and 15 exchanging passes to put the full-back over in the far left-hand corner. The conversion was, simply, too difficult in the conditions and was missed. 12-0 for the Police and the signs were ominous for the Baa-baas.

But the next 10 minutes were much better from the Baa-baas, as they dominated possession and started to pressure the Police into conceding penalties at the break-down. (Was it coincidence that this improvement occurred at the same time as the small crowd was boosted by the arrival of vociferous Baa-baas support from Lt Cdr “Barking” Bob Hawkins RN, all the way from Penang?) On 22 minutes, Dave Fairbrother burst through the Police defence on half-way and stormed towards the goal-line. With just the full-back to beat, he timed his pass perfectly to the player on his shoulder – the Police No8! And the chance went begging…. Next it was the turn of Matt Bowden (“fastest man on sand”) as he went sprinting down the left wing, leaving Polic defenders in his wake, to be pulled down only 5 metres short of a stunning try. The Baa-baas were not to be denied, however, and continued to exert enormous pressure on the Police and, 0n 28 Minutes they got their just rewards. The fly-half chipped the defensive line, Dave Fairbrother picked up the bouncing ball, slipped it quickly to Sam Davies outside him for a try that was converted by Richard Cadywould. Great stuff from the Baa-baas – great stuff from the RN contingent!

But back came the Police and, disappointingly for the Baa-baas, they quickly conceded another try, this time under their posts, after a strong driving maul from the Police forwards. 19-7 to the Police.

But the Baa-baas knew that they could get back on terms and immediately returned to the Police half to exert pressure. A high tackle on Dave Fairbrother gave the Baa-baas a penalty in centre-field. Quickly taken, it was soon unloaded to Richard Cadywould who eased over to score from 15 metres. He converted his own try. 19-14 at half-time.

Inevitably, half-time saw the Baa-baas ring the changes and bring on all their substitutes. Thus we said farewell to Marsh Cormack (injured), Matt Bowden, Dave Fairbrother and Sam Davies.

The Police kicked-off and, before the Baa-baas had settled their new players, their left-wing scored in the corner, with an excellent conversion making the score 26-14.There now followed the most disjointed period of play in the whole game: neither side seemed able to establish a pattern of play or to retain possession for significant periods of time. Richard Cadywould stood out as one of the brightest Baa-baas: taking a quick line-out to himself and then kicking to touch far downfield from his 22 was a particularly well-applauded moment.

However, the Baa-baas were gradually succumbing to an experienced, and cohesive, Police team. On 58 minutes another try from the Police forwards was, although not converted, probably the killer-blow. 31-14.

That said, back came the Baa-baas for another try. It started from great ball retention/recycling work by Kye Beasley (who else?) and, after 2/3 phases, ended with a try in the corner. A great conversion by Richard Cadywould saw the scoreboard move on to 31-19 for the Police.

But now the strength of the Police forwards (and the relative weakness of the Baa-baas bench?) started to really tell. Further tries followed on 65 minutes (converted: 38-19) and 72 minutes (again converted: 45-19) to finally kill off any Baa-baas hopes of a victory.

But the small crowd warmly applauded a courageous Baa-baas effort against an experienced and well-drilled Police side. The final score of 45-19 was, to most, unduly harsh on the Baa-baas who had competed on equal terms for most of the game. A great experience for the RN players; a great honour (justly deserved) for Marsh Cormack; and a performance from Kye Beasley that was, in my book, worthy of a man-of-the match award.

Navies Select XV:

  1. Kye Beasley (RN)
  2. Keyn Nepe (RNZN)
  3. Chris O’Connell (RAN)
  4. Layne Davis (RNZN)
  5. Marsh Cormack (RN) (Captain)
  6. Dave Fairbrother (RN)
  7. Trevor Strickland (RNZN)
  8. Steve Brown (USMC)
  9. Dane Edge (RNZN)
  10. Alan Holland (RNZN)
  11. Matt Bowden (RN)
  12. Dale Hood (RAN)
  13. Sam Davies (RN)
  14. Richard Cadywould (RN)
  15. Daryl Seden (RAN)
  16. Mark Jones (RN)
  17. Karl Furey (RNZN)
  18. Chris Hood (USMC)
  19. Dan Kamali (RAN)
  20. Odin Robinson (RNZN)
  21. Neil MacMillan (RAN)
  22. Chris Dawsey (USMC)
  23. Nick Flynn (USMC)

    Match report written by Commander John Cunningham RN
    Images © Royal Navy Rugby Union 
    Match report written by Commander John Cunningham RN - See more at: