Priddey Leads Experienced Team to Toulon

Winning his 20th cap Ben Priddey knows what to expect when he leads his team out for Le Crunch 2016
Nathan Huntley debuted in Toulon in 2012. His experience will be key to controlling the game
Jon Humphrey gets to grips with Magnani, the heartbeat of the French side
Mat Tichias will be winning his 10th cap and will play a key role in ensuring the Royal Navy’s defence is secure
Two years after his first cap in this fixture in 2014 Dave Fairbrother is sure to be closely watched by a home side respectful of his running game
Kyle Mason is set to become the Royal Navy’s most capped prop (24) if he comes off the bench on Wednesday
Space has been hard to find at Stade Mayol so Ben Priddey will need to ensure that his team remain as clinical with their finishing as they have been in the earlier matches this season

Royal Navy captain, Ben Priddey, will lead out an experienced side when the Royal Navy meet Marine Nationale at the Stade Mayol, Toulon.  On the day that he wins his 20th cap only scrum half, Cory Moore, is uncapped in the starting XV.  Priddey will also welcome back Gareth Evans who has not played in this fixture since 2013.  Evans is selected at loose head prop and will join Dave Sibson on 22 caps.  He keeps the returning Kyle Mason on the bench, who if he plays will become the Royal Navy’s most capped prop in history with 24 caps, 4th on the all time most capped players list.

The experience will be important in what is a notoriously difficult venue for away teams.  Many of the team have bitter sweet memories of the stadium, having been the venue for their first caps but also difficult matches against the French.  Nathan Huntley and Jon Humphrey both made their debuts in Toulon in the 2012 match and with that and their 2014 experience will be looking to marshal the game and quieten the vociferous game.  If they can achieve this then the Navy’s ball carriers of Dave Fairbrother, who won his first cap in this fixture two years ago, Ben Fox and John Lamsin should be able to make in roads into the home team’s defence.

However, one of the key players will be Cory Moore at scrum half.  Winning his first cap and becoming the 721st player to represent the RNRU; his tussle with Marine Nationale’s talisman Magnani is sure to be a fascinating encounter.  Moore has been in good form the last few games and has won his personal battle with Gareth Rees Jones, another likely new cap during the match, for the starting shirt.  Between them they have the ability to keep the tempo of the game high and the French backrow guessing.  They will also need to ensure their kicking game is precise as the home team have traditionally fed off loose play in the past.

The full team is as follows.  Gareth Evans and Ben Priddey are joined in the front row by John Court playing his 12th season of Senior XV rugby and who is sure to ensure the important tight head side of the scrum is secure.  Behind them is the familiar lock partnership of Edd Pascoe and John Lamsin with Ben Fox, Jarrard Hayler and Dave Fairbrother completing the backrow.

Cory Moore and Nathan Huntley start at half back, whilst in the centre Mat Tichias, winning his 10th cap, is paired with Sam Davies.  Jon Humphrey is at fullback with Matt Bowden and Seta Ruamakita selected on the wing.

The Malta International due of Kyle Mason and Harry Collins bring a wealth of big match temperament to the bench, along with Silvenusi Buinimasi, who like Tichias will win his 10th cap if he plays.  The rest of the bench are all uncapped and are Chris Warner covering prop, Ben Watson, lock, Timoci Kava, backrow, Gareth Rees John, scrum half and Greg Loydall, utility back.

Marine National v Royal Navy, Wednesday 23 March, Stade Mayol, Toulon.  KO 18:00

Royal Navy Team: Gareth Evans *, Ben Priddey * (Capt), John Court *, Edd Pascoe *, John Lamsin *, Ben Fox *, Jarrard Hayler *, Dave Fairbrother *, Cory Moore, Nathan Huntley *, Matt Bowden *, Matt Tichias *, Sam Davies *, Seta Raumaita *, Jon Humphrey *  Reps: Harry Collins *, Kyle Mason *, Chris Warner, Ben Watson, Timoci Kava, Gareth John Rees, Greg Loydall, Silvenusi Buinimasi *

Article by Geraint Ashton Jones
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & © John Walton