RN Senior XV 13 - 6 RAFThe Royal RN Senior XV faced a determined RAF team on Wednesday night in a windswept and very wet evening at Portsmouth. The weather throughout the day had a major impact to the advantage of the Royal Navy teams as first the Women, and then the Mariners, won their matches to set the scene for the Senior XV to complete the first ‘clean sweep' in this fixture.
The RN started the game in a positive manner and the early engagements favoured the home side. Following a RN scrum Sgt (Gaz) Evans (1 ASRM), playing at his preferred position of No 8, broke the RAF line and off-loaded to Fly Half Mne (Nathan) Huntley (40 Cdo RM) who couldn't gather the ball cleanly. Dropped balls and unforced errors were to be a pattern for both teams throughout a frustrating evening.
The RN continued to dominate as the RAF lineout failed to function as well as it had done earlier in the season. A driving maul was illegally impeded by the RAF which gave POAET (Dave) Pascoe (RNAS Culdrose) an opportunity to give the RN the lead 3-0, after 12 minutes.
Just 10 minutes later the RN was reduced to 14 men for 10 mins following another infringement. From the penalty the RAF gained a lineout on the RN 5m line only to knock on at the rear of the lineout and give Pascoe an opportunity to clear the line.
With 9 minutes of the half to go, the RAF was awarded a penalty which was converted by Cpl (Phil) Thomas (JSPC Netheravon) to level the score at 3-3. However, following an RAF infringement 3 minutes later, the RN ended the half with 6-3 lead thanks again to the boot of Pascoe.
The 2nd half followed a similar pattern to that of the first with the players finding difficulty holding onto the ball. The RN was again reduced to 13 men for 10 minutes following a call from the linesman for foul play. This gave Thomas an opportunity to equal the score; fortunately for the home side he missed his kick.
The RN was making life overly difficult and lost another player to the sin bin, again bringing the side down to 13 men on the pitch.
It was at this stage that the RN replaced Huntley with Capt (Tom) Glover (CTCRM) at fly half to try inject a little more pace into the game and hopefully to unleash wingers Logs(CS) (Josh) Drananui (HMS Nelson) and new cap NA(SE) (Aaron) Hunt (RNAS Culdrose).
As the game entered the last few minutes the action that the crowd had waited for erupted; first the RAF equalled the score through Thomas with a drop goal - 6-6 after 36 minutes. From the restart the RN appeared to gain renewed vigour and determination, putting together a passage of play that saw replacement ET(WE) (Ian) Cooper (HMS Ambush) score close in to the posts. This left Pascoe with an easy kick to win the game 13-6.
Many had come to Portsmouth expecting another RAF ‘whitewash' however, the RAF had other ideas. The performance from the men in light blue showed huge commitment and heart; they played a good defensive game which had seen them push the Army the week before. The weather conditions did prevent both teams from playing an expansive game but they continued to try to run the ball at every opportunity.
All 3 RN Teams are now poised to take on Trophy holders the Army on Saturday 28 April firstly at Kneeler Hall with the Women and the Mariners (KO 1030) and then the main event at 3pm in Twickenham Stadium.
NA (AH) K Mason (HMNB Devonport), NA (AH) B Priddey (RNAS Culdrose), Lt RN T Blackburn (RNAS Culdrose), NA (AH) J Quarnivalu (RNAS Culdrose), POAET M Cormack (RNAS Yeovilton), Mne B Fox (45 Cdo RM), MA S Laird (HMS Collingwood), Sgt G Evans (1 ASRM), POAET D Pascoe (Capt)(RNAS Culdrose), Mne N Huntley (40 Cdo RM), NA (SC) A Hunt (RNAS Culdrose), ET(ME) D Sleeman (HMNB Devonport), AB D Bamford (HMS Dragon), Logs (CS) J Drananui (WMO Devonport), AET J Humphrey (RNAS Yeovilton), Lt RN D Smith (HMS Vanguard), AET K Beasley (RNAS Yeovilton), S/Lt RN H Mitchell-Heggs HMS Sultan), Mne S Ramakita (42 Cdo RM), ET(WE) I Cooper (HMS Ambush), Mne J Foster (40 Cdo RM), Capt RM T Glover (CTCRM)