Seahawk Prove Too Strong for Sutherland
HMS SEAHAWK Win Navy Rugby Plate Competiton HMS SUTHERLAND knew that they would have to re-produce the quality of rugby that despatched HMS ILLUSTRIOUS in the semi final if they were going to overcome HMS SEAHAWK in the Navy Rugby Plate Final. This was a tall order for the ship considering they had won their way through to the final only five days earlier and player availability and training had been hampered due to the ship’s involvement in Operational Sea Training. SUTHERLAND started by far the brighter of the two teams and were quickly into their stride. With a mobile pack of forwards producing quality ball for Donnelly at fly-half he was able to ensure that SUTHERLAND remained on the front foot and kept SEAHAWK pinned deep in their half. The pressure was soon rewarded with a penalty that was duly taken for a 3 – 0 lead. Stung by this early set back, SEAHAWK’s forwards started to impose themselves and exert some authority and it came as no surprise when the SUTHERLAND scrummage was placed under huge pressure by the SEAHAWK front row where 19 year old Beasley at loose head lost nothing in comparison to his two colleagues, Court and Priddey who have both represented the full Navy team in competitive matches. It was perhaps fitting that the first of SEAHAWK’s tries went to a member of the front row union when Priddey was on hand to burst over from short range. Another player now beginning to dominate was SEAHAWK’s openside flanker, Vaiasaya. Time and time again he was first to the breakdown to either turn over the ball or provide the link work, which ensured that the centre pairing of Tulakepa and Kava could start running hard at the SUTHERLAND midfield. Despite some quality tackling and a prodigious work rate in defence SUTHERLAND simply couldn’t get enough of the ball towards the end of the first half and three quick tries including a length of the field move finished by Vaiasaya ensured SEAHAWK were well in control. However, SUTHERLAND’s enthusiasm was not dampened and living up to the motto emblazoned across their shirts, ‘The Fighting Clan’, they kept taking the game to SEAHAWK. Continuing to play their brand of free flowing rugby, SUTHERLAND were rewarded with a score just before half time to reduce the arrears to 28 – 8 at half time. The second half started slower than the first with both sides unable to retain possession which also resulted in a number of unforced errors. However, it was clear that the SUTHERLAND pack were tiring against the heavier SEAHAWK unit. Gradually the powerful drives from the imposing Qaranivalu were making more and more yardage and SUTHERLAND were being forced to live off scraps which led to them gambling on a high tempo brand of rugby. Their task was compounded through the loss to injury of experienced centre Iferemi and when SEAHAWK scored two more tries, the match was killed off as a contest. However, the spirit of the SUTHERLAND team remained high and after good marshalling from Donnelly, who seemed to be at the heart of everything good SUTHERLAND were doing, SEAHAWK were penned back in their half for the first time since the first quarter of the game. With the SUTHERLAND forwards producing a last effort they kept hold of possession and stretched the SEAHAWK defence across both sides of the pitch before finally getting their deserved rewards with a try in the corner. A well worked try and a fitting tribute to the quality of rugby played by the ship’s team. However, it was SEAHAWK who were to have the last say in the match with a further try to make the final score 52 – 13. Not the closest of games but one in which SEAHAWK have laid down a marker for next season’s Bambara and Navy Cup competitions and also one where SUTHERLAND clearly demonstrated the quality of rugby that is being played onboard the hard working ships of the Fleet.