Royal Navy Seek to Meet Viking Challenge

Tom Cowley made an impact from the bench against CURFC but starts against Richmond Vikings
Dave Fairbrother starts at Eight having played at blindside in last season’s Inter Services
Nathan Huntley moves from centre to flyhalf where he partners Cory Moore
Greg Welling is part of a back three full of attacking threat
Kyle Mason and Josh Terry, two thirds of lasts season’s Inter Service front row. Ben Priddey makes the reunion complete at hooker
Seti Raumakita brings his explosive tackling to the number seven jersey

In the end a comfortable victory over Cambridge University was a fair and satisfying result for the Royal Navy team as they build towards the Inter Services and Twickenham on 9 May.  Tomorrow the team travels to Richmond Athletic ground, in the shadow of Twickenham stadium, where they know the unbeaten Richmond Vikings will pose a greater challenge.

Match reviews are always easier when you have won.  The Navy side will have been content with their overall performance in their opening game but will look to see improvements in Tuesday’s second match.  Their sound defence against the students is sure to be tested a little more severely, which will undoubtedly necessitate more accuracy around the tackle and over the ball.  Likewise I am sure that favourite mantra of all coaches of ‘patience in attack’ will have been heard once or twice on the Fort Blockhouse training field.  It was pleasing the way the Navy side created the number of opportunities they did against Cambridge but with a little clearer decision-making they know the final score could have been higher.

However none of these small issues are to be unexpected from a new look side albeit it with one or two old faces returning.  In the backrow both Andrew ‘Les’ Dennis and Scott Puleston made worthwhile contributions as they returned to the Senior XV shirt and young Luke Berry will only grow from the experience.  However with two other young locks, Joe Burton and Chris MacDonald, both going well for the Combined Services U23s there seems to be plenty of competition developing.

Ultimately it is this competition for places that will drive the squad forward in their performances.  It is a template understood by Richmond, who since the well-documented demise from the English Premiership, following the withdrawal of their backer, have rebuilt the famous club’s playing base from the bottom up.  A Sunday drive passed their playing field will see the hive of activity that is their vibrant youth section, from which they are producing an abundance of home grown talent.  The Viking’s season is a testament to this playing policy as the side, filled with players striving to break in to the Senior XV have produced some excellent attacking football during their season long unbeaten run.  They will provide a true test of where the Royal Navy side is with its preparations, albeit still early in the Navy’s season.

As expected there has been a number of changes in the Royal Navy team from last week, as different combinations are looked at.  Kyle Mason remains at loose head but is joined by Ben Priddey at hooker with Josh Terry starting at tight head as last season’s Inter Service front row is re-united.  Tom Cowley brings his considerable presence in to the second row, alongside Matt Harvey, whilst the backrow is completely changed.  Dave Fairbrother starts at eight with Seti Raumakita on the openside and Graham Butterworth, a reservist at RNR King Alfred, making a Senior XV debut at blindside flanker.

Behind the scrum Nathan Huntley moves to his more familiar role of fly half where he will partner the Fleet Air Arm’s Cory Moore.  Matt Tichias and Sam Davies will provide a powerful centre combination whilst there is real pace in a back three of Jon Marlin, Greg Welling and full back Jon Humphrey.

Team: Kyle Mason *, Ben Priddey *, Josh Terry *, Matt Harvey *, Tom Cowley *, Butterworth, Seti Raumakita *, Dave Fairbrother *, Cory Moore, Nathan Huntley *, Jon Marlin *, Matt Tichias * , Sam Davies *, Greg Welling *, Jon Humphrey *

Replacements yet to be named

*- capped player

Richmond Vikings v Royal Navy, Richmond Athletic Ground, KO 19:30

Click for Full Senior XV Fixture List

Article by Geraint Ashton Jones
Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones