Aldershot 16 Jan 2013
It’s a New Year and the Tuesday before the Wednesday match gave the coaches a chance to check who had over indulged in the mince pies and Turkey over the Christmas leave period.
The Prison Service caught us cold last season and brought a really large strong squad to Aldershot and left with a well deserved win and I knew Ashley Thomas head coach and a ex-army man was planning to do the same again this year. It’s a fixture that they value highly on their calendar as we do, also because they play both the RAF and Navy Veterans it’s a good yardstick to measure how our season is progressing.
A couple of the fist choice players due to various reasons were not available to head coach Tiny Baker for selection however his pool of talented players waiting in the wings for a Masters game has never been stronger and all these players a ready and hoping for a shot at getting a chance to pull on the red jersey for the Inter Service Competition. Highlight of the training on the Tuesday was the announcement of Neil Griffiths as Team Captain for the rest of the season, a natural choice as Neil has been a leader both on and off the pitch for the Masters for many seasons. Wednesday morning and the ground was frozen solid but with the sun showing its self briefly in Aldershot and with some stealing work from the grounds staff at the Army Stadium we were able to kick off late afternoon.
Early doors and both teams are fully committed up front, but it is the Masters backs who conjure up some slick passing which allows Epi Qolikibua to go over for the first try of the game in the corner. Prison Service hit back with one of their large forwards slipping tackles to go over to level the score at 5-5. In these early exchanges the Masters are just shading it and after some good phases of control by the forwards Fly Half Glyn Jones slips a pass to Andy Davie who is not going to be stopped from ten yards out 10 -5. Masters miss a penalty just before half time and a chance to increase their lead but are just about good for the score line in their favour. Second half and Prison Service looking to get back in the game have a number of moves snuffed out by the Masters back row of Dave Goddard and Cam Hastie maintaining a high work rate in tackles made. Pepsi Wacokecoke bursts out of defence with a 50 metre dash and feeds Dave Goddard who is just tackled short of the line, the pressure is maintained and Hooker Ben Birkbeck shows a good turn of pace to increase the lead to 15-5, this time the conversion is not missed 17-5.
The Masters are now looking to expand the game, but the Prison Service are no mugs and hit back after some sloppy play by the Masters and are back in the game with a try under the posts for a 17-12 score. Tiny Baker and backs coach Mark Reed make some changes with Mark Kane on in the centre with Lee Davies moved to Fly Half, and it is a good faint and change of pace that allows Mark Kane to go over for a excellent try with the conversion made for a 24-12 score line.
Another replacement in the backs Brad Sutherland shows his talent and strength with a strong 40 metre burst to score under the posts for a 31-12 lead for the Masters. With the Prison Service starting to tire in defence Dave Goddard makes the most with a quickly taken tap penalty which allows him the opportunity to crash over for a final score of the game in the corner 36-12. On the day it was probably the strength of the Army Masters bench and defensive tackling that was the difference between the two sides, both will be needed for our next game against a strong Kew Occassionals XV in Richmond on Sat 2 Feb 13.
Match report by: WO2 Jim Evans