The Army suffered a glitch—no more–on the road to Twickenham. They beat the RAF by 35 pts—26, it could have been more, it should have been more but it wasn’t. Three or four tries went begging providing much food for thought and analysis. Nothing too ‘hi-faluting’—more of an MOT than a major overhaul.
Back to reality. At 35 pts–26 the number of telling rounds on the ground was sufficient to see-off what is probably the best Light Blues side since the days of Rory Underwood.
That is the point. The RAF were good. They were fit, well drilled, they knew their road-map. In front of an increasingly vocal crowd the Airmen played their best rugby in years.
It was difficult game to analyse without the benefits of ‘action-replay’ but it was obvious that in patches the Reds played a high octane game well. They were also uncharacteristically sloppy in areas of usual strength.
In defence individual backs and forwards failed to build a credible presence. The structure didn’t gel and, worse, too many fell off tackles. The RAF were quick to take advantage and wriggled. Their forwards drove and drove, inch by inch and then yard by yard. Long time since we have seen the Army shunted in their ‘22’.
Darrell Ball (4) led the way with a barn-storming game whilst around him new caps Will Jones (5) and Rob Lennox (6) carried hard and carried well. Both are highly mobile and fight off tackles to keep possession. The scrum was outstanding and the line-out secure against a strong RAF presence.
James Dixon at full back winning his first cap accounted for fifteen points as he slotted from all angles. Had the RAF had a kicker of such calibre they could have won a rare victory.
Tinny Hiscock (13) gliding down the middle was a superb sight and his vision to hit Rob Lennox with a beautifully timed insider was the ‘champagne moment’. Lennox shrugged and scored. Hiscock also scored as did James Read.
With the numbers too close for comfort the arrival of Jack Prasad at fly half put the accent back on attack. With wind in the sails the Reds regained momentum—the RAF went quiet.
Winning their first caps Jonasa Bulumakau(14) finished off a strong run for 5 points whilst Joe Nayacavou (7) also crashed over.
Maybe the biggest lesson is patience. A high octane 50 pointer was a fair aspiration but only after the basics had established who was the alpha-male. That didn’t happen at any stage.
Best put this one to bed. Call it a ‘bad-air-day’ but it was a win and two points in the BABCOCK Inter Services Championship. The RAF were good but there is a lot to think about for individuals and Army coaches whilst the Blue’s circus moves on to Portsmouth where the RAF take on the Royal Navy. The Matelots, on the evidence, might not fancy this one.