Navy U23 Crowned 2010 Inter-Service Champions

The RN U23s followed in the footsteps of the Senior XV by winning the 2010 Inter Service Championship at Burnaby Road on Saturday.  If their win over the Army U23s at Aldershot had been an example of some of the best rugby that the U23s can offer, then the 6 - 3 victory over the RAF U23s showed that Navy Head Coach Clayton Patilla (HMS Nelson), along with his assistant Neil Evans (HMS Collingwood), had prepared a team that was also capable of grinding out a win when not playing to their potential.

The original fixture was due to take place on Friday night but as the pitch was hidden under 4 inches of snow and both sides agreed to move kick off to the Saturday afternoon.  The Saturday afternoon brought a rapid thaw and frequent rain showers which meant that the game was never going to be too expansive, but at least it was going ahead.

The first half started with the RAF U23s enjoying the bulk of the possession and showing a great deal of variety in there play. Poor navy kicking gave the light blues the opportunity to run the ball back at the Navy.  However, if the Navy's kicking game was wayward their defence quickly proved to be as organised and powerful.  Time and again the Navy Centres Hunt (RNAS Yeovilton) and Raumakita (42 Cdo RM) and flankers Macmillan (Yeovilton) and Laird (Keogh Barracks) snuffed out the RAF attack and in doing so forced turnovers and gave the Navy an opportunity to counter attack.

As the half wore on the Navy started to exert some control on the game.  Up front Blackburn (HMS Sultan), Beasley (824 NAS), Scotthorne (42 Cdo RM) and Cairns (FPS) carried the ball well whilst Edwards (42 Cdo RM) playing his first game at fly half began to settle and was able to bring his centres more into the match.  Poor kicking by the RAF brought the Navy back 3 into the game and full of pace and guile on the counter attack with Clark (HMS Sultan) being the pick of the broken field runners.

The Navy had a couple of opportunities late in the half to turn pressure in to tries.  However, it was the turn of the RAF defence to hold firm and the Navy had to settle for a 6-0 half time lead through two Humphries (848 NAS) penalties.

The second half was in many ways a repeat of the first.  Neither side could maintain their structure for long enough to control the match and both side's defences ensured that space was kept to a premium.  Even when under pressure the Navy U23s kept the RAF far enough from their line that the penalties that they did concede were difficult kicks as the RAF only managed to convert 1 from 4 attempts at goal.

As the match drew to a close the Navy finished the stronger.  A breakaway by Navy replacement Cooper (HMS Astute) lifted the siege and it was only desperate RAF defence that kept the Navy out. As the referee's whistle brought an end to a game. The Navy U23 Captain Mne Dennis Scotthorne led his team to an unbeaten season and Will Cairns will place their U23 Inter Service Championship title next to the Senior title they were part of earlier in the year.  Scotthorne was presented with the winners trophy by RAF Rugby Union Chairman, Group Captain Fletcher before Navy Chairman, Cdre Thompson presented the RAF's flanker, SAC Sam Atwool, with the Man of the Match award.

Mne J Terry (1AGRM), ET(WE) S Baker (HMS Chatham), SLt T Blackburn (HMS Sultan), Mne D Scotthorne (42 Cdo RM), AET K Beasley (824 NAS), AET J Macmillan (RNAS Yeovilton), MA S Laird Keogh barracks), AB W Cairns (FPS COMPORFLOT), AET J Clay (848 NAS), Mne J Edwards (42 Cdo RM),  AET B Clark (HMS Sultan), Mne S Raumakita (42 Cdo RM), NA (SE) A Hunt (RNAS Yeovilton), Mne G Glastonbury (CTCRM), AET J Humphries (848 NAS)

Replacements: ET(WE) I Cooper (HMS Astute) for Beasley, O/C Tyler Smart (BRNC) for Macmillan