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2nd Bn Royal Welsh 27 pts—1st Bn Royal Welsh 25

The Royal Welsh produced an nail biting Army Premiership Semi Final at RMA Sandhurst on Wed 16 February. What might have been, on reputation, a straight run into the final for the much vaunted 2nd Bn (Greens) was hotly disputed by the 1st Bn (Blues) who played patient structured rugby to come within 2 points, five minutes before the final whistle.

The Greens opened in a somewhat casual mode, a little frilly, as though the points would come. In contrast the Blues dug in as a team. Control orders were barked to marshal the defence—‘they shall not pass’—which is what happened. Growing in confidence the Blues were soon on the attack. Blues scrum half Adam Libbey showed a calm authority behind the lighter but generally secure pack and teamed up well with former Army 7s cap ‘Toobs’ Ratunaulivou at fly half .

Ratu, a steady hand, cleverly fed centre Will Harries, a biggish number who showed a marked ability to break a fair tackle, straighten and run a good line. Sadly he lacked close support at the crucial moments when the points were begging to be scored.

For the Greens Taff Evans and James Read at half back also proved a strong pairing amidst a good deal of individual over-elaboration. In the face of fierce Blues tackling off-loads were too late or the final pass simply went to ground. A penalty try to the Blues broke the deadlock and then it was touch and go with a couple of tries and penalties each. When the tide thought about turning the Greens brought on Chris Budgen to stiffen the front trenches, which he did in the tight.

In the loose, however, the Blues had him multi-marked. He seldom made sufficient yardage to make that much of a difference.

It was surprising that both sides were able to rise to the occasion. The Blues were in the middle of pre deployment training. The Greens were light a few players including Army lock Paul Llewellyn. The match showed the strength in depth available to both clubs. It would have been exciting to see the 1st Battalion in the Final but in the end it was experience and not the errors that decided which team went through to face 17 P&M Regiment RLC..

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