Royal Navy Look to Repel Worthing’s Raiders

Mark Jones, former CSU23 captain makes his first senior appearance since the Commonwealth Cup
B Buinmasi is looking to regain his place lost when he broke his leg against the RAF in 2013
Marsh Cormack (left) returns from injury to partner Tom Cowley (right) in the second row
John Court’s form in the Inverdale Challenge competition has led to a recall from the Mariners
Ben Priddey captains the side and makes a rare appearance in the Senior shirt at openside flanker
RatuRokoKurasasa will be looking to build on his first senior match against CURFC two weeks ago

With the loss to Richmond Vikings and the cancelled fixture against Oxford University suddenly the Royal Navy’s last outing in February takes on a greater importance.  Once more the coaching staff have rung the changes before they will need to make the important decisions as they ramp up their Inter Service preparations.  Against Worthing Raiders, Ben Priddey will lead a side that once more has a core of experience running through it but will also feature a couple of players looking to make the cut for the mid March Malta training camp.

An all changed front row sees Josh Terry move across to the loose head side to accommodate John Court at tight head prop with former Combined Services U23 Captain Mark Jones making his first return to the Senior jersey since the Commonwealth Cup.  Packing down behind them will be a powerful engine room of Tom Cowley, who is retained from the Richmond game, and Marsh Cormack.  Marsh is now fully recovered from the knock he took in the Inverdale Challenge Final and like Mark is another making a fist appearance since the New Zealand tour.

Dave Fairbrother provides the continuity in the backrow at Number 8 with skipper Ben Priddey moving back from hooker to his club position of openside flanker.  Edd Pascoe moves out from lock to the wear the six jersey and ensures that the Royal Navy will not want for lineout options.

Johnny Stephen is again given the nod over Cory Moore at scrum half and resumes the half back partnership with Nathan Huntley that finished last season’s Army Navy game.  They will be looking to release the new centre partnership of Sam Benzie and B Buinmasi.  Sam has already made a big impact in both royal Navy and CS U23 colours and can only gain from playing alongside the experienced Buinimasi, now back to full fitness and form.

If they can achieve this then in Jon Humphrey and Richard Cadywould the Royal Navy have two further play makers in the back three that should allow for them to develop their all court game.  Having formed an effective partnership during the Commonwealth Cup it is the first time that they have been paired together since.  Ratu Kurasasais is the third member of the back three as he gets a second run out.   Ratu will be looking for a little more space than he found during the match against Cambridge University.

Ben Priddey will be keen that his team maintain the standard they have set with their defensive work whilst also look to eradicate the penalties that are giving the opposition an easy exit when the Navy are looking to build pressure.  If they can achieve this, as well as seeing further improvement in their set piece, then the attacking plays will follow.

The set piece is likely to improve as the players get more used to each other’s plays.  And with this improved platform it should allow the Royal Navy’s attack to develop in a structured way.  If this can be achieved then the squad will be able to look back at February satisfied with the foundation they will have laid for the 2015 Inter Service campaign. 

After Worthing, next up at Burnaby Road will be the Marine Nationale, 1 April, who will be seeking to defend the Babcock International Trophy.  Before then the Navy squad will have been on their travels.  First a visit to Esher, then their training camp in Malta before returning and taking on Worcester Cavaliers at Sixways.  Tuesday night’s visit of the Raiders is the perfect opportunity to start the key month of March on the front foot and another vociferous home crowd will only help the team’s on going Inter Service preparations.

Team: Josh Terry *, Mark Jones, John Court *, Tom Cowley *, Marsh Cormack *. Edd Pascoe, Ben Priddey (Capt) *, Dave Fairbrother *, Johnny Stephen *, Nathan Huntley *, Richard Cadywould, Sam Benzie, SilvenusiBuinmasi *, RatuRokoKurasasa, Jon Humphrey *

Replacements yet to be named

*- capped player

Royal Navy v Worthing Raiders, Tuesday 24 February, Burnaby Rd, KO19:45

Click for Full Senior XV Fixture List

Article by G Ashton Jones
Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones  & © Keith Woodland