Royal Navy wins in Plymouth
The Royal Navy made the journey to Plymouth on Monday evening to play Plymouth Albion Warriors as the final game of the Inter Services 2010 preparations. Following the impressive result against the RAF, and conscious of the need to rest some players and allow others to recover from minor injuries, the team saw a number of changes. As the game unfolded, it became clear that the coaching staff would indeed have to make difficult decisions before selecting the squad to play the Army on 1st May.
The warm weather and dry conditions meant that the pitch was firm and promised a fast flowing game that would be key to providing the open and entertaining rugby that Navy fans enjoy. From the kick off, the Navy came out of the blocks the sharper of the two sides and had the majority of the possession and territory. After 13 minutes, and very much against the run of play, an interception by a Plymouth player in his own 22 led to a break away try to put the home side into a 5 point lead.
The Navy was awarded a number of penalties and, determined to play an expansive and running game, opted to kick for touch instead of easy points. This was a bold tactic but one which was to provide a clear demonstration of improved lineout techniques. The relatively young Plymouth side took every opportunity to kick and was rewarded with a well struck penalty after 22 minutes to put them ahead by 8 points to nil.
Impressive running by the Navy back row opened up a number of opportunities and the centre pairing of ‘B' Buinimasi (RNAS Culdrose) and Scott Llewellyn (Cdo Log Regt RM) was able to punch holes in the Plymouth defences. The home side was able to launch a number of attacks and seized the momentum for the second part of the first half, only to be thwarted by good cover tackles and the Navy scramble defence. At the half time whistle the score remained at 8 - 0.
A number of changes at half time brought Gaz Evans (UKLFCSG) into the fray and he immediately
made an impression with strong running that re-energised the Navy's attacks. On at stand off, Owen Glastonbury (HMS Nelson) combining well with the sniping, ever present Jonny Stephen (CTCRM), was caught by a high tackle that gave the Navy a penalty kick to touch. The lineout won convincingly by Marsh Cormack (RNAS Culdrose), a rolling maul made the yards towards the Plymouth line. Peeling off the back, flanker Greg Barden (RM Poole) crossed the line to score the Navy's first points of the night; converted by Rob Lloyd (42 Cdo RM), the score stood at 8 - 7.
The tempo and physicality remained high throughout the second half, with both sides competing well in the breakdown and showing good attacking flair. The final minutes of the half were not without drama and both sides threatened to score; the Navy was awarded a penalty for a deliberate knock-on and what appeared to be a straightforward kick, went just wide of the posts. The small but enthusiastic crowd could be forgiven for thinking that the match was all but done. However, a penalty awarded just inside the Navy's half in the dying seconds of the game, was kicked straight and true by Lloyd to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Final score 8 - 10.
This was a well-deserved and hard fought victory for the Navy and there were some very strong individual performances. Marsh Cormack (RNAS Culdrose) continues to impress and Damo Chambers (CTCRM) showed good awareness, putting in another strong performance at number 8. Gaz Evans (UKLFCSG) continues to make an impact, from whichever position he plays. Jonny Stephen (CTCRM) was an effervescent and forceful presence at scrum half, who linked well with the equally elusive Owen Glastonbury (HMS Nelson). A robust defence and a number of potent runners in the backline augers well for the future and will make selection of the 22 to face the Army anything but straightforward.
Mne Rob Lloyd (42 Cdo RM); Cpl Richie Mayson (SFSG St Athan); AB B Buinimasi (RNAS Culdrose); Mne Scott Llewellyn (Cdo Log Regt RM); LAET Andy Vance (HMS Nelson); Capt Tom Glover (CTCRM) (rep Mne Owen Glastonbury (HMS Nelson) - 41 min); Mne Jonny Stephen (CTCRM); Cpl Damien Chambers (CTCRM) (rep AB(Sea) Will Cairns (HMS Nelson) - 60 min); Cpl Greg Barden (RM Poole) (rep POPT Andrew ‘Les' Dennis (HMS Nelson) - 65 mins); Mne Mike Egglestone (45 Cdo RM) (rep Mne Kieran Morton (UKLFCSG) - 41 min); LAET Marsh Cormack (RNAS Culdrose); Mne Dennis Scotthorne (42 Cdo RM) (rep SLt Niall Copeland (HMS Collingwood) - 41 min); AB(WS) Marc Roberts (HMS Bulwark) (rep Cpl Gaz Evans (UKLFCSG) - 41 min); POA(AH) Jan Laity (RNAS Culdrose) (rep NA(AH) Ben Priddey (RNAS Culdrose) - 30 min); SLt Tom Blackburn RN (HMS Ocean).