Navy v RAF Match Preview
The Inter-Services are back, and the greatest military rugby competition in the world is starting with an absolute cracker between the RAF and the Navy on Friday night. Dave Pascoe has rewarded his players by naming an unchanged starting fifteen to face the tournament holders at the Twickenham Stoop.
The Navy go into the competition full of confidence after their demolition of the Marine Nationale in Plymouth two weeks ago. The RAF however will be a different proposition, and currently have the upper hand on the Dark Blue after winning the last two championship fixtures.
As for the RAF, the Senior Service are under no illusions as to how well prepared they’ll be. They’re a squad packed with talent and there is no doubt that the light blue’s strength is their forwards. Their talisman, second row Josh McNally, has been in fine form for London Irish and has recently signed for Bath.
The Navy forwards are relishing the contest. Since re-joining the squad this season Josh Terry, Chris Robinson and Ben Watson have been outstanding. The remainder of the pack have displayed a real bite; showing they are more than capable of neutralising the RAF’s most potent weapon. Priddey and Pascoe have masterminded an effective lineout, while Jarrad Hayler is thriving in his new position at No.8. Sam Matavesi was exceptional against the French, and the RAF won’t be happy to see his name on the team sheet. The newly appointed Captain Scott Makepeace continues to perform well and display his leadership qualities. “To skipper the Navy in the inter-services is something I never thought I’d do. Since taking on the role the lads have been amazing and really got behind me. I’m buzzing for Friday, I can’t wait. It’s going to be awesome to play at the Stoop against a top side”.
Since joining Swansea in the Welsh Premiership Gareth Rees has developed immeasurably and is probably the best scrum half across all three services. Recently capped Brad Janes will join forces in the centre with Seta Raumakita, the pair have formed a formidable defensive partnership that is raring to go on Friday night. The backs are full of attacking flair, and Greg Lloydal will be looking to release the potent back three of Myers, Dimmock-Williams and Duncan.
The most notable inclusion on the bench is Nath Huntley who returns from injury. Beasley, Willman, Kirwin, Spencer, Chambers and Bridgen complete the finishers.
Dave Pascoe said “It’s weeks like this I wish I was still playing. There’s an incredible buzz around the squad and boys are ready to get stuck in. We’re ready to go and I can’t wait for the boys to show how good they can be against a quality outfit.”
“What the squad have built is amazing, but it’ll mean nothing if we don’t take it into Friday night. We must be better, more physical and more accurate than we were against the French. If we’re not, we’ll get punished. We have earned our confidence and we’re ready” said Scott Ashley.
Friday will be a fantastic day of Inter-Service sport. The Mariners will play the Vultures at Kneller Hall KO 1400, followed by the Women’s game at 1615 at the Twickenham Stoop. The Senior XV will KO at 1900, also at the Twickenham Stoop.
Words: Oliver Mason
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton