ROYAL NAVY MEDICAL SERVICES v US PORTSMOUTH 2nd XV ("THE BUCCANEERS") 28 MAR 12
The Royal Navy Medical Services (RNMS) RFC kicked off their season with an inaugural match against US Portsmouth select XV. The game swung like a pendulum; considering it was the first time the RNMS team had played together all season, and had only had a couple of hours of light training in the blistering Portsmouth sunshine in the afternoon before kick-off, it produced some excellent running rugby and at times, some tenacious defence.
This game was being used by the RNMS as a training game before the big match against the Army Medical Services on the 27 Apr 12. It was agreed by both sides to use rolling subs and play 4 x 20 min periods.
The game started well for the RNMS with a break from Capt Salama in the mid field making it all the way to the opposition's 22m line supported by Bolton, before a handling error gave the Buccaneers the opportunity to clear their lines which they duly accepted. Some good rugby was plagued by simple handling errors by both sides and the first quarter finished scoreless, but it was evident that this match was never going to end in that manner.
Again the RNMS made a better start to the 2nd quarter and it took only 5 mins for the Buccaneers try line to be breached. A blistering break from the back line created the overlap on the right side of the field and Bosman off-loaded to Winfield, showing the pace and dexterity of a rampaging rhino to accept the ball. At one point we were unsure as to whether he had side-stepped the opposition full back or found the only pot hole on the field! But the move was finished in style with the RNMS striking the first blow. The normally metronomic Jones was having an off day with the boot after recovering from an early knock, and the conversion was slipped just wide of the upright.
This seemed to be the boot up the proverbial backside that the Buccaneers needed, and they started to play some fantastic champagne style rugby through the backs; within 5 mins they had crossed the RNMS try line. The Buccaneers' kicker did not seem to be having the same problem as his RNMS counterpart and duly slotted an excellent kick from out wide on the left side of the field. The RNMS seemed to drop their heads for a 20 min period and enabled the opposition to take full advantage of this to cross the try line twice more to put them into the ascendency and acquire what appeared to be an insurmountable lead.
With the RNMS down 19-5 the half time whistle was blown, and the team regrouped, with forced changes being made in the pack and the back line. The changes seemed to inspire rather than dampen the RNMS team spirit and the 2nd half of what was going to be a monumental effort by the RNMS began. The RNMS scrum was starting to impose its dominance at set piece and this allowed Parmenter to skilfully squeeze over for a try from a 5m attacking scrum. This was all the more impressive considering he had lost two pints of blood in the warm-up!
The 2nd half began with the RNMS pack dominating the tight and marauding in the scrum, constantly gaining ground and causing the Buccaneers to infringe at the breakdown creating penalty chances for the RNMS. The RNMS front 3 of Winfield, Salisbury and Horlock were beginning to gain the upper hand over the veteran opposition front row, which was creating more and more chances for the RNMS. With possession stolen from an excellent front 5 drive, the ball was spun to Nicholson and Colin and with a "Manu Tuilagi" type battering run they made an excellent break from the half way line and crossed underneath the posts.
This seemed to be the turning point and Nicholson and Dodd found a touch of pace and skill to break tackles at will, creating space and opportunities. The RNMS was never going to let them go and going into the last 20 minutes the score was 33-24 to the Buccaneers. The spirit of the RNMS team was exceptional and they started to believe that they were going to win. With 10 mins left on the clock, RNMS touched down under the posts, unfortunately the kick did not match the try and was sliced wide. With Colin making ground every time he received the ball it was only a matter of time. Did the RNMS have enough to create one more chance? And the answer was, of course, ‘yes'. Quick ball from the break down was taken by Colin who broke tackles and once again crossed over beneath the posts, much to the enjoyment of the hordes of RNMS supporters, putting the RNMS ahead for the first time since the opening exchanges. With only seconds left on the clock the Buccaneers were awarded a penalty and when the referee informed them that it was to be the last play of the match, to the bewilderment of the fans and assistant referee alike they went for the line out and it was awarded! The final whistle was blown an agonising 12 phases later after a period of steely and determined defence. The RNMS had held on to record a well deserved victory 34-33.
The teams will meet again on Weds 20 Mar 2013.
8 Salama (Capt.)
10 Jones C
Referee: WO1 Sean Todd RAMC