On the first Wednesday in October the Royal Welsh welcomed the present Army Champions, 12 Regt RA, to Tidworth in a re match of last seasons Army Premiership final. Bragging rights were at stake but as last season showed, the winners of the cup are the ones that score the most points on the final day in Aldershot. However it was ‘Advantage the Welsh’ as referee Ian Bibby blew his whistle to end the game.
The Gunners had started the stronger of the two teams; skipper Ken Dowding is now a mature and respected leader; he has got a well drilled squad together and they will indeed feature in the knockout stages after the Christmas break. They turned around at the break two tries up and looked comfortable to be leading 12 – 6. The Welsh had huffed and puffed but lacked a leader and only managed to kick two penalties for their six points.
It was all to change from the 41 minute. Veteran Prop Chris Budgen joined the foe, and shored up an eight that had spent a fair bit of time going backwards; a yellow card to the Gunners Pete Austin was rightly shown for going in at the side as the Welsh were powering towards the 12 Regt try line. His speed in the loose and solid presence in the scrum were missing for the next ten minutes and the Welsh took full advantage with numerous scrum penalties being awarded to them as the Gunners scrum that was so dominant in the first half went backwards. Budgen is not the mobile force he once was but try and stop him from three yards and you are in trouble, he drove over and for the first time after 55 minutes the Welsh took the lead, and they did not relinquish it. The Gunners did re group when Austin returned and scored a well worked try with 10 minutes to go and it was game on, however a loose pass from the 12 Regt backs gifted a simple interception for the Welsh no 8 Ross Edwards to score his second try of the match.
So the Welsh win ’round one’ 28 – 17 on this barmy October day; both sides will be stronger when they get to the knock out stages; can’t wait………