The first capped game of the season took place last night at the Home of Royal Navy Rugby at Burnaby Road, Portsmouth and saw the Royal Navy Senior XV take-on last year's Babcock Trophy winners the Marine Nationale.

The French having never won on British shores where looking to emulate last season's performance in Toulon where they outshone the Navy's by 24-3.

The game started at a fast tempo with the Navy having a great deal of the possession, which produced excellent attacking options which caught the French off-side and allowed POAET (Dave) Pascoe (RNAS Culdrose) to open the scoring with a penalty goal 3-0, 3mins.  

Whether it was the cold weather or not but the handling was by no means at its best, with the outcome of scrum after scrum which was to favour the French. Although the French held the upper hand in the scrum set piece the Navy had the power of ET(ME) Sleeman (HMS Raleigh) and new cap Mne (Matt) Tichias (42 Cdo RM) in the centre that caused the French defence significant problems.

It was one of these forages into the French defensive line that led to the 2nd score of the game as Pascoe again slotted over a penalty kick 6-0 10 mins.

The French came back strongly from the restart and winger Staub made useful ground to earn a penalty which was duly converted by Sauton 6-3 23 mins.  

The response from the Navy was immediate, pushing the French back into their own 22m the gained a 3rd penalty which was converted by the trusty boot of Pascoe 9-3 27 Mins.

Things started to go badly for the French as they struggled to deal with the attacking lines of the Navy and their discipline started to slip. The touchline official saw some foul play at the lineout that led to the French being down to 14 men for 10 mins.

The Navy kicked to the corner for a 5m lineout which led to a trademark ‘catch and drive' and for ‘Redruth boy' LNA(AH) (Ben) Priddey (RNAS Culdrose) to secure the ball at the back of the maul to score the first try of the night, converted by Pascoe 16-3, 35 mins.

During this period of play it was clear that new cap AET (John) Lamsin (RNAS Culdrose) was struggling which gave CPOAET (Chris) Thompson (HMS Sultan) a chance to enter the fray and gain his first Senior XV cap.

Thompson was straight into the action and almost scored from his first touch, however the French defence was to deny him his ‘Cinderella' moment. This was a short rest-bite for the French as AET (John) Humphrey (845 NAS) crossed in the corner on half time for an unconverted try 21-3 HT.

As the teams returned to the pitch Mne (Greg) Welling (RMASC) replaced Mne (Jack) Foster (40 Cdo RM) on the wing and added a Senior XV Navy cap to that of his Combined Services cap.

The second half did not live up to that of the first as both teams seemed to stall, however the Navy still kept the upper hand which frustrated the French and eventually led to them receiving a Red Card.

2012 U23 Captain AB(WE) (Tom) Davies (HMS Collingwood) a last minute replacement on the bench for Mne (Seta) Raumakita (SEME Bordon) was another to be awarded his first Senior XV cap as he replaced Humphrey at Full Back.

The Navy coaches started to make the changes to try an unlock the game  by moving Sgt (Gaz) Evans (RMR London) from Prop to No8 and bringing on AET(Kye) Beasley (RNAS Culdrose) in the front row. Evans released from the ‘Dark Place' that is the front row, was to make an immediate impact as he picked up from a stable scrum and made good yardage.

Mne (Josh) Terry (RM Poole) came on into the front row and to add to the new caps for the night and Logs (SC) (B) Buinimasi (HMNB Devonport) replaced Tichias in the centre. POAET (John) Court (RNAS Culdrose) replaced MA (Sam) Laird) due to an injury in the final minutes of the game.

The final play of the game saw the French throw everything at the Navy line and eventually be rewarded with a converted try to make the final score 21-10.

Skipper Pascoe collected the Babcock Trophy for the Royal Navy and following this presentation Capt (Chris) Alcock OBE (RNRU Chairman) Presented caps to Lamsin, Taylor, Tichias, Thompson, Welling, Davies and Terry.

DoR Cdr Andy Kellett RN said of the game ‘We started well and the tempo we played at was something we have been working on during the training camp and in games leading up to this fixture. However, we need to maintain this throughout the game especially when we meet the RAF next week in the first round of the 2013 Inter Service Championship'

2013 Inter Service Championship:- Round 1

Wed 10 April 2013

RAF v Royal Navy at RAF Halton

RAF Vultures v RN Mariners              KO 1030         

RAF Women v RN Women                KO 1100

RAF Senior XV v RN Senior XV        KO 2.30