A comfortable win for the Masters against a strong Surrey Vets side.
On a dry chilly October evening at the Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot the Army Masters took on a strong Surrey Vets side. This fixture was the first trial match for the Masters as they are still going through the selection phase this early in the season. To add to the pressure and ask questions about fitness levels of the players they were all put through their paces with a Strength and Conditioning programme for most of the day prior to the game. With all the players wanting to make an impression it was very obvious that the coaches were going to have a difficult time to make a decision on who to select for the final Inter Services Squad. This was the second annual fixture against Surrey Vets who turned up with 27 players from 13 clubs out of a possible 74 were ready and looking forward to putting up a fight against an unproven Masters side.
To the credit of the teams they both tried to play a quick open running game. This brought reward for the Masters early in the first half with a flurry of trys from the hard running backs. The Masters pack showed great control and discipline winning good ball from the restarts, lineouts and reasonable scrummage ball against a very strong Surrey Vets Pack. This gave a good platform for the backs to execute their set piece moves clinically causing all sorts of issues for the Surrey Vets backline. Surrey Vets also had some success in the first half scoring a well worked try after exploiting the blindside off the scrum which proved to be a slight achillies heal for the Masters, Surrey continued to exploit this but the strong scrambled defence of the Masters soon dealt with the issue.
Half time saw a complete new line up for the Masters to ensure that the coaches were able to see all players. Surrey Vets also made some changes which started to ask lots of questions of the new Masters forward pack with good lineout and long driving mauls down the touchline. The Masters, once composed, dealt with this fairly well but this did result in a couple of penalties being given away to the opposition. This gave a good platform for the Surrey backline and saw their strong centre taking good ball going forward at pace asking questions of the Masters backline defence. This pressure was well rewarded with a try in the second half for Surrey however the new Masters forwards started to dominate the scrum and with the team settled and composed they scored some fantasic tries by the backs and forwards as the night went on.
This was a strong performance and in the end a comfortable win for the Masters as they start to build for the Inter Services in April 17. The coaches have got some difficult decisions to make prior to our next fixture (Remembrance Match) against Aylesford Bulls in November.