RN Senior XV v Irish Defence Force
The Royal Navy Senior XV renewed its rivalry with the Irish Defence Forces (IDF) on Thursday 15thMarch at United Services Sports Ground, Burnaby Rd, Portsmouth.
This was the twelfth meeting of the two sides, the first being in 2002 at London Welsh. The overall series stood at 7 - 3 to the Royal Navy, with the home side being the current holders of the trophy after a win in Cork last season.
Results aside, this encounter has been notable for the closeness and competitiveness of the games. Every game played has gone to the wire; last year was no exception and could easily have been won by either team, with the margin of victory being just 7 points.
The RNRU is currently building its Senior squad as a result of higher than normal changeover of players due to operational commitments, retirements and redundancies. However, the new management team is keen to quickly bring together a squad from across the full spectrum of the Navy life.
This match against the IDF undoubtedly provided a good opportunity for aspiring players to make their mark and stake their claim to wear the coveted Navy shirt in this year's Inter Services.
The game started in the usual manner with both teams testing each other defence, the IDF close in and the Navy continuing as they had done against Cambridge University playing a wide expansive game.
It didn't take long before the Navy caught the IDF ‘napping' and right wing S/Lt A Vance RN (RNAS Yeovilton) ran 60m to score the first try of the game with POAET D Pascoe (Capt)(RNAS Culdrose) converting the try 7-0.
A score so early in the game ‘rousted' the IDF and they continually pressurised the Navy line only to be thwarted by handling errors which were caused by an aggressive Navy defence and good set piece play from lineout specialist POAET M Cormack (RNAS Yeovilton) and a back row of Mne B Fox (45 Cdo RM), MA S Laird (HMS Collingwood), ET (WE) I Cooper (HMS Ambush) who all made the life of the IDF back row difficult.
As the clock ticked to 25 mins the Navy constructed a good move that provided late replacement for Navy Centre Dale Sleeman, AET Davis a gap which he exploited to perfection. This pulled the IDF defence to the right and with the overlap on the left the Navy switched attack to allow AB D Bamford (HMS Dragon) to score a well worked converted try 14-0 25 min.
Pascoe added to the total a few minutes later as the IDF were penalised for an infringement at the break down 17-0.
If anyone left early to get a place at the US Portsmouth Club house bar then they missed a great try. This provided proof of the hard work both the Coaches and Squad had put in as both backs and forwards worked together; excellent off-loads in the tackle and support play that gave NA(AH) J Quarnivalu (RNAS Culdrose) his first converted try of the evening 24-0 HT
From the restart the Navy made clear its intentions to keep the pressure on the IDF to keep them out of the game, as history of this fixture had seen the IDF always come back hard when behind.
The Navy pushed the IDF back into there own 5m and gained a lineout. From this the forwards showed great patience which paid off to gave hooker Lt D Smith RN (HMS Vanguard) another late replacement for Ben Priddey his first try 31-0.
From the restart the IDF again pressured the Navy line and eventually gained a penalty 31-3.
From the restart fly half Mne N Huntley (40 Cdo RM) lofted his kick off which allowed Cormack to claim the ball and set up another phase of play which the IDF illegally disrupted. This was a kickable penalty, but the Navy selected to kick to the corner for a lineout on the IDF 5m line.
The ‘Catch and Drive from the lineout was ‘dropped' by the IDF for another Navy penalty. The ball ended up in Quarnivalu safe hands and his 2nd try.
The restart did not go well for the IDF as Worcester (Warriors) winger (CS) J Drauniniu (HMNB Portsmouth) eventually did what he had threatened to do all game and got onto the score sheet 41-3.
The IDF continued to drive close to the break-down in an attempt to drag in the Navy players in order to makes some space for there back line. This tactic did have an effect in a way, as after several warnings the referee yellow carded the Navy.
This didn't stop the 14 men of the Navy as they raised there game and good work between the forwards and backs that gave Vance his 2nd try, 48-3.
The final action of the game saw the IDF attack make some good ground with there close to the break down driving game and then ‘spinning the ball' wide to free there backline. However, a floated pass was intercepted by the ever present Drauniniu who had a free run to the line, conversion by AET J Humphrey (RNAS Yeovilton)
Final Score 55-3 which now gives the Royal Navy an 8-3 lead in the series.
Man of the Match: - NA (AH) J Quarnivalu (RNAS Culdrose)
This game now sets the Navy up for a trip to the Bath on the 3rd April before a week later travelling to Toulon, France to face the Marine Nationale.
NA(AH) K Mason (HMNB Devonport), Lt D Smith RN (HMS Vanguard), AET K Beasley (RNAS Culdrose), NA(AH) J Quarnivalu (RNAS Culdrose), POAET M Cormack (RNAS Yeovilton), Mne B Fox (45 Cdo RM), MA S Laird (HMS Collingwood), ET(WE) I Cooper (HMS Ambush), POAET D Pascoe (Capt)(RNAS Culdrose), Mne N Huntley (40 Cdo RM), S/Lt A Vance RN (RNAS Yeovilton), AB D Bamford (HMS Dragon), Logs(CS)J Drauniniu (WMO Devonport), AET J Humphrey (RNAS Yeovilton), Lt T Blackburn RN (RNAS Yeovilton), ET(ME) J Parry (HMS Monmouth), Mne J Foster (40 Cdo RM).