Navy faces strong provincial side
The Royal Navy made the long trek from Portsmouth to Colwyn Bay to play Rygbu Gogledd Cymru 1404 last night as part of their Inter Services 2010 preparations. Following the success of their game against CLOB, the team saw a number of changes - some enforced due to injury and some due the coaching staff wishing to have a last look at a couple of combinations.
Despite the wet weather the pitch was in remarkably good condition and firm under foot. This allowed both sides to play the game at a good tempo and provide some entertainment for the reasonably sized crowd that had turned out. The Navy came out of the blocks the sharper of the two sides and their early pressure was rewarded by a well-taken penalty from captain Dave Pascoe (RNAS Culdrose). However, this turned out to be the limit of the Navy's success for the night. From this bright start the Navy managed to first allow their opponents back in the game by ceding both ball and territory through intermittent mistakes. This was then compounded by a number of missed tackles, which allowed RGC 1404 far too much room to play the game and dictate proceedings. With their backline demonstrating fluidity and crisp handling, the North Wales team time and time again capitalised on Navy errors to keep the scoreboard ticking over. By the time the referee blew the half time whistle, they had scored six tries for a 36 - 3 lead. It looked as if it was going to be a long evening!
However the second half was a far closer affair. The Navy rectified their defensive deficiencies and was able to show attacking flair to exert some sustained pressure. On three occasions they looked as if they were over for a deserved try only to be thwarted by the ball being held up over the line or by last ditch RGC 1404 defence. With both sides making a number of changes, the game began to lose some of its intensity and pattern. Having repelled the Navy attacks, RGC finished the last ten minutes of the game on the front foot, launching a number of sustained assaults on the Navy line. It looked as if the Navy would hold out only for RGC 1404 to squeeze over in the corner for the last play of the game. Final score 43 - 3.
Though naturally disappointed with the result, the Navy can take heart from some very strong individual performances. Kyle Mason (RNAS Yeovilton) continued his rehabilitation from injury and put in a very strong display at loosehead prop, whilst his Fleet AIr Arm colleague, Marsh Cormack (RNAS Culdrose) had a powerful game from lock. Damo Chambers (CTCRM), another player returning from injury, also showed he was regaining form and match fitness. With the next match being the Inter Services opening game against the Royal Air Force, the Navy have a few little wrinkles to iron out but have demonstrated, albeit it patchily, that they have a robust defence and still possess a number of potent runners in the backline.