Slow Start Costs NavyThe Navy Senior XV suffered a 34-17 defeat at the hands of a Coventry Night Hawks following the most lacklustre first half of rugby seen from the Navy team for some years. Electing to play in to the wind at the Butts Park Arena, Coventry the Navy were soon on the back foot as a lively and inventive Coventry side put them under pressure and retained possession for long periods.
When the Navy side did managed to gain possession it was too easily surrendered back to the opposition. With the honourable exception of Ian Cooper (HMS Ambush) no one in a Navy shirt could honestly say they acquitted themselves well. The Navy did have a few opportunities to get on the score sheet but none were taken whilst at the other end they conceded 4 tries and a penalty goal. The half time (27-0) score was a fair reflection of 1st half performance.
Whether it was having the wind on their backs in the 2nd half or Dave Pascoe's (771 NAS) half time chat which reminded the players of what is acceptable. Whatever it was the 2nd half saw a different side with a willingness to play with a little more bite. Aggressive defence began forcing errors from the home team and Owen Glastonbury began to bring his outside backs in to the game. Some good work through the forwards was rewarded when Gareth Jones (RNAS Yeovilton) was driven over for a try whilst not to be outdone the backline created a wide hole in the Coventry defence for Aaron Hunt (RNAS Yeovilton) to stroll through to the line. With Aaron's try converted by Glanstonbury the Navy had pulled the score back to (27-12).
With the Navy having upped their game the spectators were at last being entertained to some competitive rugby with both attacks testing their opposition's defence. On the whole the Navy's 2nd half defence was meeting the challenge of Coventry and they will be disappointed that a lack of realignment close to their line allowed the Coventry fly half to break through a gap and go under the posts to score a converted try (34-12). However, the Navy were soon back on the attack and were quickly rewarded when Ben Priddey (RNAS Culdrose) broke from 20m out to score what proved to be the last score of the match (34-17). As tiredness set it the Navy attack managed to squander a couple of guilt edged chances but with the abject rugby of the first half confined to history they could at least be satisfied they were at least creating the opportunities.
Again as with Oxford University a number of players made their Senior XV debuts. All 4 were promoted from the U23 team and in Ian Cooper the Navy has a real work horse in the pack who until sickness forced his retirement was clearly the Navy's best player. Though a neck spasm limited Jon Humphries (848 NAS) effectiveness, he can be pleased with his debut. As can John Clay and Ben Clark (both RNAS Yeovilton) who came in at short notice to cover injuries and showed that they have a promising future in a Navy shirt.
Final score Coventry Night Hawks 34 - Royal Navy 17
Royal Navy: Humphries (848 NAS)(rep Kamikamica (45 Cdo RM)); Hunt (RNAS Yeovilton); Marlin (HMS Chatham); McRae (CTCRM); Raumakita (42 Cdo RM); Glastonbury (CTCRM)(rep Clay (848 NAS)); Pascoe (771 NAS) (Capt); Cooper (HMS Ambush)(rep Laird (Keogh Barracks)); Lark (40 Cdo RM)(rep Clark (RNAS Yeovilton)); Jones (RNAS Yeovilton); McLaren (DMOC); Cadmore (HMS Raleigh); Roberts (HMS Bulwark)(rep Court (HMS Warminster 829 NAS)); Evans-Jones (LWC Warminster)(rep Priddey (RNAS Culdrose)); Mason (845 NAS)