Royal Navy U23 v Oxford University U21 XV
Sunday saw the Royal Navy U23 squad visit the "City of Dreaming Spires" in their preparations for the 2012 Inter-Services Championship. Oxford University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) was unable to host the match at the home ground so an alternative location of St Edwards School was used to play the fixture.
Since the Navy U23s last game against a Chichester RFC Select XV 2 weeks ago the squad has work hard in all aspects to improve their skills and develop the game plan. The training session prior to Sundays game went well, but unfortunately a couple of injuries and illness meant the starting XV changed. On a dull and overcast Sunday morning at HMS Sultan the U23 squad conducted a gentle session culminating in a ‘captains run' steered by the Skipper, AB (Tom) Davies (HMS Illustrious).
After an early lunch the squad departed North for the University City of Oxford and on arrival quickly prepared for the physical encounter with their student opponents. As soon as the whistle blew commencing the start of the first half the Navy side released they were in a very physical game of rugby. The home side capitalised on the Navy's slow start and scored 3 very quick tries; converted by the fly half, in a 15-minute window. However after a couple of substitutions the U23s soon consolidated their game plan and fought back. The next 20 minutes remain very open but the Navy earned a penalty just outside Oxfords 22, Skipper Davies took the decision to kick for goal, but fortunately pushed the ball to the left of the up-rights; at the sound of the half time whistle the score remained 15-0 to the home side.
The 2nd half started with a couple of changes made by Head Coach Capt (Scott) Ashley RM (NCHQ) and the Navy side soon showed their determination and resilience, but unfortunately they just couldn't break through Oxfords defence. On a number of occasions it seemed the U23s had broken the stalemate and scored; the best of these when Mne (Mo) Andrews (43 Cdo RM) seemed to have beaten his opposite number on the right wing and scored in the corner, however the referee deemed it was not a try. The remainder of the half progressed in the same manner with the score remaining at 15-0 at the final whistle.
Head Coach Captain Scott Ashley (NCHQ) at the end of the game said
"This has been another good lesson for this young U23 side which showed ruggedness in defence but must now learn to capitalise when opportunities arise and score points as we will not win the Inter-Services competition if we do not score tries. The squad has the talent it is up to the coaching staff of Billy May, Kia Blackett, Ian Cooper and me to turn this side into a winning outfit".
The next fixture for the U23 side is a home fixture at Burnaby Rd against Cambridge University on Sunday 04 Nov 12, KO 2.15pm. This is the final warm up game prior to the first Inter-Services match against the RAF at Burnaby Rd on Friday 16 Nov 12. All are welcome to come along to support and you can also follow the match here on the website, and Twitter feed at Twitter@RNrugby