Round 1 of the 2013 Inter Services Championship saw the Royal Navy travel to the new home of RAF Rugby, RAF Halton.

The first games on were the Royal Navy Mariners against the RAF Vultures at the same time the Royal Navy Women, confident after a good performance against the Marine Nationale Feminines, took on the RAF Women.

Little happened for the first 15 mins of the game between the Mariners and Vultures until the Vultures were awarded a penalty, which was duly converted 3-0.

However, the Mariners under the coaching of WO2 (Chris) Richards (CTCRM) responded immediately as speedster AB (Sam) Halofaki (CLR Chivenor) jinked his way over the line for the first try of the game. This was converted by AB (Manoa) Satala (RM Poole) 3-7, 18 mins.

The lead was increased as Satala converted a penalty towards the end of the half 3-10 and just before the half-time whistle, Halofaki and Satala combined again to increase the scoreline to 3-17.

On the adjacent pitch the RN Women were equally ahead after Logs (Loz) Morton (HMS Nelson), with the support of the forwards, went over for the first try which went unconverted. 0-5, 22 mins.

The RAF Women hit back with a penalty and the score stayed at 3-5 for the remainder of the half.   

The Mariners started the second half very quickly and CSgt (Nick) Clarke powered over the Vultures' line with several of them still on his back as he crossed the line; Satala converted 3-24 after 46 mins.

Satala was involved in the next score as he ran from 50m out to score under the posts and then converted his own try 3-31, 52 mins.

The Mariners' scrum was powerful and this was evident when, Clarke controlled the ball well at the back of a scrum on 5 metres, before dropping on it as it crossed the line; Satala converted 3-38.  This looked like the last score of the game as the Vultures worked hard to win some points of their own. However, this backfired as Lt Cdr (Jamie) Phillips (BRNC Dartmouth) weaved his way up the pitch to score a converted try, making the final score 3-45. 

Over with the Women the scoreline change little in the 2nd half as the RN Women kept the RAF women pinned down in their own half for long periods. However, as always, the RAF were quick to use their backs to break out and it was only some fantastic defence from the likes of LSC (Fiesha) Greene (HMS Illustrious) and AB(Sam) Alderson (HMS Scott) that stopped the RAF from scoring.

It was skipper Lt (Charlie) Fredrickson (COMUKTG) who was to seal the game after a good break down the left wing. Some excellent off-loading between forwards and backs allowed Fredrickson to crash over for the 2nd try of the game 3-10.

The RAF women came straight back and only staunch Navy defence kept them out and kept the score to 3-10 at the final whistle.  After the game RNRU President Vice Admiral P A Jones CB presented Lt (Paula) Bennett-Smith (NATO Northwood) and AB (Sam) Alderson (HMS Scott) with their Navy Caps.

With 2 wins out of 2, the RN Senior XV had a great deal to live up to as the main event kicked off in the afternoon.

From the kick-off, the RAF Seniors looked a little tight and the first kick went straight into touch, scrum back on the half way line, Navy ball. However, the RAF forwards showed their power to gain a penalty from the scrum. POAET (Marsh) Cormack (RNAS Culdrose) provided evidence of his prowess in the lineout when he took the RAF ball with ease from the resulting lineout.

As play developed the RAF had a scrum inside their own 22m, noting their early dominance in this area it should have been an easy clearance. However, miscommunication between the backs and the pressure from the Navy backline saw the ball fumbled over the RAF line and Mne (Nathan) Huntley (30 Cdo IX Gp) touched down for the first score of the game 0-5, 5 mins.

The RAF backs started to move the ball around and the back 3 looked effective in attack - it was from one of these attacks that the RAF scored their first converted try 7-5, 9 mins.

The Navy attacked via Sgt (Gaz) Evans (RMR London) and Mne (Dom) Taylor (42 Cdo RM) which caused the RAF defence to work hard to try and contain them. A run of penalties against the RAF had the referee, Mr Andrew Small, speaking to the RAF skipper. It was from one of these penalties that Huntley drove the ball into the RAF 5m. A ‘catch and drive' from the lineout saw LA(AH) (Ben) Priddey (RNAS Culdrose) crash over for a trademark try, converted by POAET (Dave) Pascoe (RNAS Culdrose): 7-12, 18 mins.

The RAF were not to be outdone and using their scrum applied the pressure to the Navy, winning a penalty try from a Navy infringement in a 5m scrum: 14-12, 22 mins. This lead was short-lived a Pascoe converted a penalty after the RAF were judged to be ‘holding-on' in the tackle: 14-15.

AET (Jon) Humphrey (845 NAS) continued to cause the RAF defence a great many problems whilst ET(ME) (Dale) Sleeman (HMS Raleigh) and his direct running lines opened their defence time after time. However, it was Huntley who was to score next as he attacked the RAF defensive line, saw the gap and glided through for his 2nd converted try: 14 - 22, 27 mins.

On the half hour point Sleeman again broke the RAF line, this time finish off the move to make the score 14 - 27 at half time.

The Navy started the 2nd half with greater tempo that saw some excellent play between the forwards and the backs. Again Priddey was on hand to touch down for his 2nd try of the afternoon, converted by Pascoe: 14 - 34.

It was to be Humphrey who again showed his pace, as he found a gap, turned on the after-burners to leave the RAF defence in his wake. Just in case he needed it, there was great support by Mne (John) Marlin (42 Cdo RM), but Humphrey was clear over the line. Pascoe converted: 14 - 41.

The RAF backs put together a good passage of play that eventually led to an unconverted try: 19 - 41, 57 mins.

The Navy started to make some changes as POAET (John) Court (RNAS Culdrose) came on for International prop NA (AH) (Kyle) Mason (HMNB Devonport). Capt (Stu) McLaren showed exactly why he was selected as he came into the fray for CPOAET (Chris) Thompson (HMS Sultan) who had performed fantastically. McLaren immediately turned over the RAF ball, Sleeman saw the gap down the right wing and broke free.  Only some good cover defence by the RAF stopped Sleeman but Huntley was on hand to score his hat-trick which was converted by Pascoe: 19 - 48, 60 mins.

Mne (Setareki) Raumakita (SEME Bordon) and Mne (Greg) Welling (RMASC) replaced MA (Sam) Laird (RAF Henlow), whose work-rate during the afternoon was of the highest order, and Mne (Jack) Foster (40 Cdo RM).

As the game enter the last 10 mins ET(WE) (Ian) Cooper (HMS Collingwood) replaced Taylor and Logs(SC) (Silivenusi) Buinimasi (HMNB Devonport) came into the centre for Mne (Matt) Tichias (42 Cdo RM). This also saw AB (WS) (Tom) Davies (HMS Illustrious) replace Huntley. In order to maintain the pressure Humphrey moved to stand-off and Davies slotted into the full back role.

The RAF on the other hand were to finish the game with 14 men following a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, which spurred on the Navy. It was from an over-thrown RAF lineout that Cooper collected the ball and crossed the try line for a converted try: 19-53.   

Although beaten, the RAF never gave up and in the last play of the game they crossed the Navy line for a converted try, making the Final Score 26-55 to the Royal Navy.

All images taken by Mr Paul McCabe

The Royal Navy Senior XV move-on to face Bath RFC at The Rec on Tue night KO 7.30pm whilst the RAF make the journey to Aldershot to face the Army.

Round 1: 2013 Inter Service Championship Results

RAF Senior XV 26 - 55 RN Senior XV

RAF Women 3 - 10 RN Women

RAF Vultures 3 - 45 RN Mariners

Round 2: 2013 Inter Service fixtures Wed 17 Apr

Army Masters v RAF Vultures KO 1.30pm

Army Women v RAF Women KO 4pm

Army Senior XV v RAF Senior XV KO 7.30pm  

Final Round Army v Royal Navy

Saturday 27 Apr

Kneller Hall: KO 1030

RN Women v Army Women

RN Mariners v Army Masters

Twickenham Stadium KO 3pm

Army v Royal Navy

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