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Army Master V Farnborough RFU

Monday 21 Nov 2011, Aldershot

On a reasonably mild if slightly wet night for the month of November the Army Masters squared up to a Farnborough Club side made up from 1st team and Vets players for a game that last season ended with the local team victorious over the Army Masters. The memory of this victory meant the local club brought a fair amount of support to the stadium on Queens Avenue looking for a similar result.

From the kick off both sides struggled to get a grip of the ball and with both sets of forwards struggling to stay on their feet at the ruck area, possession was pretty much even in the early exchanges. After a good kick from WO2 Calvin Venn playing at 10, the Masters had a good field position in the Farnborough 22 that they failed to clear which led to a scrum.

Good solid work from the front row being anchored by WO1 Shaun Collins led to the Farnborough pack conceding a penalty, up steps wing Cpl Pete McDonald to slot the points, so 3-0 to the Masters.

In the next period of play neither side played good rugby, but the big boot of Venn and the sharp play of SSgt Bongo Davies at Scrum half are the highlight for the Masters. Maj Ewen Cameron replaced Collins due to injury with SSgt Dave Goddard replacing SSgt Scott Kelly at number 8 also through injury. The Masters were now starting to apply more pressure with the Farnborough side only able to attack from deep with their centres that carried the ball well throughout the game and kept the Masters defence honest.

After a good break by McDonald from some quick turnover ball the Masters attacked the Farnborough line again, penalty conceded by the defending side led to another 3 points making it 6-0.

With half time nearing and after a short period of play in the Masters half a good carry by Prop Sgt Dicky Homer and a few good phases of play up the middle of the park by the pack, means the Farnborough pack could not resist infringing yet again which gave the Masters another penalty and a yellow card to the offending prop who paid the price for the early misdemeanours in the game by his side. The kick was missed so the Masters ended the half 6-0 to the good.

At half time both teams rang the changes making full use of their respective replacement benches. After the break there was a good strong run from Maj Mike Nawaqaliva on the wing being stopped just short of the try line. From the scrum and against the head the Masters drove the Farnborough pack back which allowed Goddard to pick up and go over from about 5 metres out 11-0.

Sgt Rob Smart on for Venn at 10 missed the difficult kick from out wide for the extra points. Farnborough made a rare foray into the Masters half but were sent back by a huge 60 metre kick by Smart which led to a line-out which is not straight, from the ensuing scrum Goddard made a strong break before feeding wing Maj Dom Hayakawa for a nice smart finish in the corner, conversion missed 16-0 to the Masters.

The fitness and play of the Masters were now starting to apply pressure to the Farnborough pack and straight from the restart kick the Masters attacked the opposition’s line with Cpl Lee Davies just being brought down inches from the line after a strong run. Farnborough then cleared and put a good chase on the clearance kick which nearly led to a try except for some great cover tackling by Hayakawa.

During the next phase of play the Farnborough pack once again could not resist infringing leading to yet another yellow card and they were back down to 14 players. WO2 Mark Kane made a strong run and from a couple of good phases of possession Cpl Dan Ratu was just edged out short of the line. There were then chances aplenty for the Masters but poor passing and decision making by the backline let Farnborough off the hook. So the forwards showed how it should be done with Capt Cam Hastie playing at flanker finishing off a nice little move with the ball going through a few pairs of hands to make the score 21-0. All of the possession and territory was with the Masters and the game was finished with Smart feeding Davies who made a strong attacking run to go over with the last play of the game. Smart kicked the extras to make the score 28-0 and put some gloss on the score line. Head Coach SSgt Tiny Baker commented after the game:

“It really was a game of two halves! With 30 players to look at we were able to put two 15s out against Farnborough. We had another good SSgt ‘Taff’ Reed session today and the guys have really taken on board our comments from the last game and have worked hard in putting it all into practice. We controlled the game well not really letting Farnborough get any sort of footing in the game. And with more time we can only get even better”

Final Score: 28-0

Match report by: WO2 Jim Evans

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