Wednesday 17th April 2013
Queen Avenue Aldershot
There was no denying the fact that the Army Masters have suffered three defeats on the bounce before this fixture, but this did not dampen down the positive attitude that was present throughout the build-up training for the coming game against the RAF Vultures.
Due to work commitments’ Neil Griffiths is unable to take part in the rest of the season and the whole of the Masters Squad wish him well on his future endeavours, his place as Masters Team Skipper is filled by the experienced Sgt Ben Hughes RE.
On a sunny if slightly windy day on Queens Avenue Masters Fly Half Calvin Venn gets the game under way with a good weighted kick into the Vulture forwards who fail to secure the ball and from the lineout the Masters put pressure on the ball and secure a turn-over with Camie Hastie making good yards before feeding the ball to Venn who in turns creates space to feed the support run of hooker Ben Birkbeck who goes over for the first score of the game 5-0 to the Masters.
From the restart the Vultures kick fails to go 10 yards and from the ensuring scrum Gareth Williamson playing at eight goes on a rampaging strong run which was to be a feature of the game.
When the Vultures clear their lines with a kick, Bruno Green starting at fullback returns the kick with interest, with Lee Davies and Pepsi Wacokecoke also making good yards and going close, before a deliberate knock on gives the Masters a penalty ten yards out, quick thinking by flanker Dave Goddard allows him to crash over for score under the posts with Davies adding the extra points 12-0.
The Vulture pack is feeling the pressure of the Masters Props with Mark Eastley and Ewen Cameron taking their opposite numbers to the cleaners in the scrum, which allows Williamson once again to get over the game line, and from that ruck the ball is given to Wacokecoke who breaks a couple of tackles before he touches down 17-0. The every busy Hastie is like the rest of the pack always looking for work and when he gets the ball is always making yards. Wing Stu James on his Masters debut has to leave the field for a blood injury and is replaced by Dan Ratu, who is straight into the action and scores a try with his first touch of the game after a good pass from Venn; Davies adds the extra points for a 24-0 lead.
There is then a superb break again by Green who then feeds Goddard for try under the posts with Davies making the score 31-0. With half time approaching there is a further opportunity for hooker Ben Birkbeck to collect a second try before the interval.
It’s his last action of the game and he is replaced by Garry Windle with Raks Rakabu on for Dave Goddard after he picked up a knock scoring one of his tries. Both Coaching staff and skipper ask for more of the same in the second half and to drive their dominance home.
After a short period of Vulture pressure the Masters attack from deep and after some great phases of play by the forwards the ball is released to the backs and Mark Kane shows good strength to reach out and score a well worked try 43-0. A yellow card for Mark Eastley does not stop the Masters going forward. Jim Newton is replaced by Bongo Davies at scrum half after a strong performance, helped by a pack going forward no more so than lock Sandy Fitzpatrick who along with Ben Hughes in the boiler house are still putting in the hard unseen graft.
Bongo Davies gets his hands on the ball and makes space to feed winger Dan Ratu in the corner for another score, he then steps up to add the extra points with a great conversion kick from wide out on the touchline 50-0. All the Masters players want to get the hands on the ball now and there is a further try from Green who has had a great game with the dry conditions allowing him to show his pace and all round strength. 57-0. Both the lineout and scrum are working well for the Masters with Simon Orr now on for Mark Eastley and Si Hughes replacing Cameron adding to the Vultures problems when trying to secure any ball, and every bit of possession they get is snuffed out with strong up front tackles.
From a lineout ten metres out a catch and collect by Ben Hughes and controlled driving maul allows Windle to go over for a forwards old fashion try. Windle then follows this up a short time later being on hand in support after some good inter-play between Fitzpatrick and Wacokecoke to go over for his second score. Davies adds the conversion and the Referee ends the game for a 69-0 win to the Masters, who now look forward to the championship decider against the Navy Mariners next Saturday at Kneller Hall.
Man of the Match: SSgt Gareth Williamson
Report by WO 2 Jim Evans.