So near but not close enough
On a well-prepared pitch with an enthusiastic crowd the Mariners took to the pitch at Kneller Hall believing this would be their year. The intelligence reports had the Army Masters worried following their reports from the RAF game and there was a strong team spirit in the training camp.
Unfortunately the first half did not go according to the script and in the first 15 minutes the Army Masters slotted two penalties after a number of Mariners transgressions, mostly for offside to make the score 6-0 to the Army.
For the next twenty minutes both sides struggled for the upper hand with some good moves off the back of the Navy scrum by No 8 Lee Norris. Final passes did not go to hand and after both teams exchanged yellow cards the Army Masters ended the half on top with a converted try making the half-time score 13-0.
A regroup at half time saw the Mariners go back to basics and gain a penalty which was not converted; a costly error given how close the match ended.
The Mariners best attacking plays followed with pressure applied to the Army line and a sublime offload around the tackle from hard-running captain Jamie Phillips. The only result was a penalty by No 15 Paddy Gore bringing the score back to 13-3 with twenty minutes to go.
The Army seized their only opportunity with a tap penalty giving them an unconverted try and the score rolled up to 18-3 giving the Mariners a three score challenge in the last quarter.
Head Coach Paul Clark came off the bench and his flat delivery gave the Mariners the impetus which resulted in Paddy Gore scoring a peach of a try, converted by Biko Satala, which brought the sides closer at 18-10.
The last five minutes saw some epic plays with the ball being run by Max Boyce from the Mariners goal line almost to half-way but the margin was just too great and the Army Masters triumphed. Final Score Army Masters 18 - Navy Mariners 10.
So near but not close enough. As always, lots of positives for the coaches to build on with Paul Wood the best forward and Paddy Gore best back (and man of the match).