Royal Navy Shake Down Against Blackheath before IDRC Kicks Off
An intense and productive week of training culminates with the Senior XV’s match against Blackheath on Friday. It will be an ideal opportunity to bed down the combinations and also to ensure that a couple of wider squad members are up to speed before the serious challenge of Fiji, in the opening game of the International Defence Forces Rugby Cup next week. If the World Cup is anything to go by the ability to cover squad losses through injury could prove crucial.
Ben Priddey will lead out the starting XV, but in truth the match is about the whole squad. Following the squad announcement earlier this week, John Lamsin has been named as the final and 30th IDRC squad member. The established Fleet Air Arm lock forward is rewarded for some excellent performances for the President’s XV last season and will partner Edd Pascoe in the starting XV behind a front row of Tom Blackburn, Ben Priddey and Grant Hill.
Grant Hill is a newcomer to the Senior XV shirt and though not in the IDRC squad of 30 is on the fringe and very much in the Selector’s thoughts. Part of the US Portsmouth team that went unbeaten last year, and a player who had a successful President’s XV to Estonia, Hill is a strong robust tight head full of promise.
The starting backrow and half backs have a familiar feel to them. Dave Fairbrother will anchor the pack whilst through flankers Seti Raumakita and Jarrad Hayler the Royal Navy should be effective at the breakdown in the early exchanges. Johnny Stephen will be looking to dictate the tempo from the front foot whilst Nathan Huntley will again provide the overall game management from flyhalf.
Similarly, the back five has a familiar feel to it having started together at last season’s Inter Service match against the Royal Air Force. Matt Tichias and Silvenusi Buinimasi continue their partnership in the centre with Matt Bowden and Greg Welling on the wing and Jon Humphrey at fullback.
By the game’s very nature there will be many changes as the different combinations are trialled. This is likely to ensure that another newcomer to the Senior XV jersey will get a run out. Like Hill, Alex Cragg impressed in Estonia and the U23 lock is also nominated as a non travelling reserve for the IDRC competition. If he ends up packing down with Edd Pascoe it will be one of the youngest second row partnerships the Royal Navy will have fielded for a long time at Senior level.
Ben Chambers, after impressing for the Sharks would be another newcomer to the Senior XV jersey whilst in Ian Cooper and Ben Fox the ‘bench’ will contain a couple of players who have not been seen in the shirt for a couple of seasons.
Though, quite naturally, all the players will be looking to impress individually, for the coaching staff it will be more important to see how the team and sub units perform and about the overall performance. The match gives a great opportunity to shake down the weeks training before focusing on Fiji and the ensuing IDRC campaign.
Royal Navy Starting XV: Blackburn, Priddey (C), Hill, Lamsin, Pascoe, Raumakita, Hayler, Fairbrother, Stephen, Huntley, Bowden, Tichias, Buinimasi, Welling, Humphrey
Replacements from: Collins, Burton, Cragg, Bartlett, Fox, Cooper, Jones, Loydall, Bamford, Benzie, Chambers, Cadywould, Davies T, Davies S
Pool 1 Round 1 US Portsmouth Thursday 8th October
Japan v New Zealand - KO 15:00
Royal Navy v Fiji - KO 19:00
Round 2 US Portsmouth Monday 12th October
Japan v Fiji - KO 15:00
Royal Navy v New Zealand - KO 19:00
Round 3 US Portsmouth Thursday 15th October
Fiji v New Zealand - KO 15;00
Royal Navy v Japan - KO 19:00
Images by © Ash Coates and Alligin Photography / © G Ashton Jones