The ‘Mighty O’ deals with double Danes!
On a day when British teams were taking on Europe's best in the Heineken Cup, HMS OCEAN's rugby club locked horns with one of Denmark's best teams – Copenhagen Exiles, writes our Special European Correspondent. Playing in a Copenhagen suburb in freezing conditions with a strong wind whipping down the pitch, the match started with the Exiles kicking off into the wind and weather. Despite a lack of match practice, owing to OCEAN's recent 7 weeks operating off Arctic Norway, the O's forwards soon slotted into some strong driving play, releasing quick ball for their backs to mount a number of promising passing moves out wide. After just 4 minutes, a slick miss pass saw Std Joe Masivesi ghost past a flailing defence for the first try which was subsequently converted by OM Taff Fuge. The weather soon took a hand when lashing rain made handling very tricky. For the next 10 minutes play was confined to the centre third of the pitch as both teams struggled to put some phases together and breach the opposing defensive lines. The quarter hour mark saw AEM Ryan Cox prod a kick through the Exiles' defence but a knock –on prevented a sure-fire 5 pointer! But the forwards soon took charge of their Danish (and Australian, Kiwi, South African…) opponents and, on 26 minutes, a neat 20 metre driving maul ended with a scoring pass from Std Joe Masivesi being taken beautifully and run in by Mne Faz Faramus. Again, the strong boot of Taff Fuge added the extra 2 points. The Os really started to pile on some pressure and, even without the ball, some destructive tackling began to tell. A spill by the Exiles' backs was seized upon quickly and a great three quarters move, with some fine link play by Flanker Faz Faramus, ended with a try, only for it to be disallowed unkindly because of an earlier forward pass. However, the scoreboard was able to click over again when a gloriously floated double miss pass by OCEAN Stand Off Fuge was gathered by Full Back Std Iffy Ifereimi who stepped outside and blasted past a now flat footed Exiles defence. The conversion was missed but half time saw the Os up by 19 points to nil. Half time saw the spectacle of the whole Exiles team traipsing off to be replaced by a completely fresh, much more athletic-looking, one. With the date – 1st April – the Os thought this might be some sort of joke but, ever up for a challenge, on they went. The first 15 minutes of the half saw both teams sizing one another up with displays of tactical kicking and tight forward encounters. Good defensive work by both sides denied a number of try scoring opportunities but a slip was inevitable and a missed tackle let the Danish winger Tuborg into the corner; the conversion attempt out wide was unsuccessful. This was followed 10 minutes later by a try by the outside centre, Anderson, a Danish national player – this time converted – bringing the score to 19-12. Although the fitness of the Exiles began to tell at this stage, the Os dug in and again some great scoring opportunities unfolded with three quarter moves to both sides of the pitch. One sparkling move involved the veteran Centre, and ship's 1st Lt, Lt Cdr Rufus Redman linking impressively with Wing, Lt Cdr Andy Woolhead, to cut an inside line through the Exiles defence. Excellent cover tackling prevented a try but it sparked a purple patch of Os attacking. However, the last score went again to the Exiles following another well worked centre move involving the excellent Anderson. The try was converted to bring the final score to 19-19. Summing up the match, skipper LMEM Tom Maher commented on the match as being one of the archetypal, and in round ball parlance, two halves. "They were a good side in the second half but I'm proud of the way we stuck to the task and particularly as our programme has prevented a great deal of match and practice time". He added, "Some of our first and second half play was really pleasing and we have plenty to take away from this performance – we'll see how the third half goes!" The third half was won convincingly!