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Army Masters v HM Prison Service

18 January 2012 – Queens Avenue Aldershot

On a slightly damp cold night in Aldershot the Army Masters faced HM Prison Service in the last home game before going on the road in the build-up to the Inter Services in April. From the kick off the Masters put the Prison Service under pressure and after a couple of phases of play the referee awarded a penalty to the Masters which Sgt Rob Smart, playing at stand-off, slotted with some style 3-0. The Masters continued to dominate the early exchanges but after a quick turnover which allowed the Prison Service to move up the park an infringement led to a penalty which brought the score level 3-3. The Masters still shaded the early exchange’s and after another penalty Skipper for the evening WO2 Mark Kane asked Smart to put the Masters back in front 6-3.

The Prison Service used their big pack runners to keep the Masters honesty around the fringes and only some good tackling from the Masters back row kept the Prison Service at bay. After a good carry by SSgt Mark Eastley playing at prop and LCpl Rakabu playing at eight and a good linking move by Smart and WO2 Cooper in the backs, the Masters found themselves in the Prison Service 22, an offside lead to another penalty to the Masters 9-3.

The Prison Service with only 5 minutes of the half left won a turn-over and after some quick hands scored a good try under the posts which is converted 9-10. Cooper had to come off with a large cut and was replaced by WO2 Stu James in the centre. SSgt Errol Jones also had to leave the field with a thigh strain and was replaced by Cpl “Nabs” Nabakeke. The Prison Service again turned over a Masters attack and went the length of the pitch to get another try, the conversion was missed 9-15. From the re-start the Masters put pressure on the Prison Service and a clever cross field kick from Smart nearly came off for Maj Dom Hayakawa on the wing who was only just bundled into touch by the last gasp defence of the Prison Service. Half time and the Masters were behind after dominating the half in both possession and territory but failed to make the most of that possession.

The second half started with the Prison Service putting pressure on the Army line and an error at the scrum by the Masters allowed the Prison service to score another try. The Masters rang the changes to steady the ship and it worked with a penalty being awarded just after the hour mark, however Smart missed his easiest kick of the night with the score remaining 9-20 and another chance went begging when the ball crossed the line from a kick but was not touched down during the chase.

Smart was replaced by WO2 Calvin Venn at stand-off for the last 10 minutes of the game. Army Masters continued to put pressure on the Prison Service and after a number of infringements the referee grew tired and produced a yellow card to a member of the Prison Service pack. The game was open now with both sides looking for a score however a good bit of close driving by the Masters forwards lead to a try for Maj Tom Wood playing at hooker going over for his first score for the Army Masters. Cpl Lee Davies missed a difficult kick from out wide 14-20 and with still enough time to snatch the win the Masters went all out for a score, however some wrong decisions and a couple of passes not going to hand condemned the Masters to their first defeat of the season.

Well done to the Prison Service who came well prepared for the game and used their big strong runners well to reverse the defeat they received last year.

Army Masters head coach SSgt “Tiny” Baker commented after the game:
“This was our first match with the new squad, with an even mix of capped and un-capped players. We played very well in periods of the game especially when we stuck to our basic game plan. As a first fixture it has helped the coaches and myself pin point what does and does not need ‘tweaking’ and has also shown the players how much work is required to take us through to the Inter Services”.

Match Report by WO2 Jim Evans

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