Army 30 pts—Royal Navy 17
ARMY are again BABCOCK and Inter Services Champions — what more could you want. Well quite a lot really, chanted 80,000 at Twickenham, and the REDS provided it with something to spare.
After a ‘sludgy’ start where the Army played with high energy but a strange mixture of excessive confidence and carelessness they went into the break 12 pts – 7 adrift. In that time the Army had shown flashes of brilliance, conceded two tries to Navy hooker Ben Priddey and had scrum half Tom Chennell warming the naughty bench.
Scrum-meister Chris Budgen rounded off a glimpse of what the Army forwards could do when he burrowed over for a try converted by full back James Dixon. Irony or what ?? He was then replaced on the ‘advice’ of the referee, a slip of a lad who might not recognise a set piece from a sandcastle, because he was getting worked up by something going on, or not going on, at the scrums.
The second half produced some great rugby. The pack exerted pressure and pain. Pressure means penalties means points and that man James Dixon, aged nineteen, sauntered up and slotted. Oh, for half that confidence and ability.
A refreshed Tom Chennell rifled the ball in the warm Twickers sunshine, Jack Prasad danced and the Navy defence, gutsy heroes to a man, dithered. Gerhard Wessels was set free and created exciting forays flank to flank. The Navy responded, stretched themselves but eventually went ‘twang’ when Wessels brought the Reds’ wingers into play. Sammy Speight was the first to rise and was unlucky not to go over in the corner.
Applying greater vigour up front enabled No8 Ledua Jope forays deep into Navy territory. Powerful ‘carries’ by the heavies Will Jones, Darrell Ball and Rob Lennox took advantage of tiring sea legs. It might have been a rout but the Navy tackled and tackled—this time there were no ‘freebie’ runs, every yard had to be earned. Lennox worked his sox off to be in a position to score his second Inter Services try—at 10 m he is nearly unstoppable.
In the fourth quarter the Reds proved the adage that ‘Quantity has a Quality all of its own’.
Jack Prasad, who had been off for a blood injury, returned and earned his ‘Man of the Match’ Award. More dancing and slick distribution and the forwards, as an eight, were in hot pursuit. ‘Turkish’ Titchard –Jones had a mighty surge only to be chopped down meters out.
Then what (most of !) the crowd had been waiting for. Samesa Rokoduguni went looking for work and arrived off his wing, on the right with only three matelots to beat. James Dixon converted.
The Navy tired and in the process were prone to indiscipline. ‘Roko’ was clothes-lined by a senior player and some niggle replaced rugby. Nevertheless there was still time for Navy hooker Ben Priddey to score his third try of the afternoon—in itself a remarkable hat-trick. As always No8 Gaz Evans produced a ‘heart and soul’ performance and was always a threat. If it is to be believed Dave Pascoe, having skippered the Blues twelve times at ‘HQ’ is bowing out of Senior rugby. He leaves many wholesome memories.
And so it was left to top and tail a great afternoon for Reds’rugby. Skipper Mattie Dwyer led the way to the Royal Box to lift the BABCOCK Trophy and Inter Services Bowl.
Well done all who contributed, particularly Team Manager Nick Dermott and his cohorts, Bruce Baker and his stretcher–bearers and Ashley Brown, for ‘Vid Analysis’ without whose expertise the arguments could have gone on for ever.
Head Coach Axel Rees had the season’s last word. “We tried a bit too hard in the first half to produce a ‘performance’ worthy of 80,000. We played to plan in the second half and produced a match winning team effort against a never-say-die Royal Navy outfit”.