Navy's Style Burns Brightly as CS Snuff Out Fire Service Challenge
A Combined Service team boasting eight Navy players in the starting XV and captained by last season's Navy Captain, Dave Pascoe (RFANSU), proved far too strong from the British Fire Service when they met at Burnaby Road. The all Navy half back partnership of Pascoe and Matt Rhodes (HMS Bulwark) were quickly into their stride and the variety of their passing, running and kicking game kept CS on the front foot. They also provided space for Navy centres Silivenusi Buinimasi (HMS Cumberland) and Greg Barden (RM Poole / CNR) to exploit through their direct running and subtle offloads. It was Barden's first run out of the season, following a shoulder operation, and it was soon very evident that he was looking to make up for lost time. Clearly having benefited from his time under former RAF player Paul Hull's coaching at Bristol, Greg's running lines proved to be a regular supply of scores for Combined Services. However Navy fans in the crowd will also have been pleased to see Buinimasi's improvement, particularly in his passing game. Obviously time spent on the same ship as Navy Technical Coach Dave Sibson is proving worthwhile. With Llewellyn showing good form for the Sharks and Mills and James producing good performances in the Inverdale Cup, competition amongst the centres is going to be fierce and exciting! Navy Winger, Andy Vance (HMS Heron) produced another understated performance, regularly beating his opposite number whilst Sharks Captain, Rob Lloyd (CTCRM), relished to space he was afforded when he came on as a second half substitute. He clearly is in good form prior to leading his side at the Dubai Sevens. Though the eye was naturally attracted to the backline their freedom to operate was based on a very solid performance by the Combined Services pack. Les Dennis (HMS Nelson) laid down a challenge for the number 7 shirt whilst Tom O'Keeffe (RMR Bristol) found that a successful Argyle Bowl can earn a run out for CS even before he has made the Navy Senior Squad. However expect to see the free running blind side in the Navy shirt before too long. Finally it was good to see that the standards set by Navy stalwarts Matt Parker (CTCRM) and Marsh Cormack (HMS Heron) are still as high as ever. Marsh only recently back from a deployment to Iraq looked sharp and often found himself taking the ball up to good effect. Coming off the bench Parker again demonstrated how well he reads the game and as ever assisted CS to maintain the fluidity within their game. Overall the game was probably to one sided to be considered a classic but it was a real joy to see so many from the Navy running out in the famous CS white jersey and all of them putting in solid performances.