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Army V Navy – 2012


Army 48 pts — Navy 9

At Twickenham on 28 April the Army beat the Navy 48 pts—9 to retain the BABCOCK Trophy and be crowned 2012 Inter Service Champions. The Army Reds came together in waves—the sort that swamped the Navy. Wave upon wave broke on the Blue defence as the Army steadily accrued 48 points to provide a fitting climax to what must, ever, be the Reds’ most successful season.

Yes—it rained but the tempo of the Army attacks remained undiminished for 80 minutes. The Navy put up an early fight but frequently it too was literal. Attempts at fisticuffs were utterly counterproductive against this Army pack. It was a futile strategy and only fatigue, an alert referee and the boot of Ceri Cummings forced a change of heart.

Despite the persistent rain the Army ran the ball oblivious to the idea that it might be slippery. The first phase aim was individual and collective subjugation of the Navy forwards and then, and only then, to free the backs for a measure of self expression. The first scrum provided early evidence that the Navy needed a couple of Babcock tugs to bring them back on station. From that point it was one-way traffic.The Army line out was also masterful. Skipper Darrell Ball mentally and physically ruled the skies and Dave Bates, again having his best game in an Army shirt, allowed the changes to be rung.

With three tries Semesa Rokoduguni was the star of the show –as it was meant to be!

In ‘Roko’ and Sam Speight, on the opposite wing, the Army had Premiership class strike power –a flexible combination of strength and elusive speed. Roko pranced and surged whilst Speight’s control of speed and twist in close contact had the Blues’ defence in all sorts of ‘inside outs’. He will remember his first try at Twickenham. Missed tackles by the Navy were not so much sloppy as a reflection of the team dynamics of the Army attacks. Between the attacking forces of the backs and forwards Tom Chennell and Fiji international Jack Prasad were cannily matched.

Chennell with an uncomplicated service provided space for the mercurial Prasad to weave patterns through the Blues defence. He is the catalyst for team attack and a focus for the Army support which arrived by the bus load. Mark Lee at No7, playing his final game for the Army, led the back row into the thick of the recycling action and he will be missed.

Darrell Ball grabbed a try as did Dave Duffus who most frequently comes off the bench to make the difference. Cummings kicked eighteen points whilst Navy skipper Dave Pascoe replied with three penalties for the Navy.

The Navy were unfortunate to meet the best Army team in terms of ability and preparation seen since the days of national service—beyond which the memory has more collapsed than faded ! Scrum half Dave Pascoe was brave and rallied his troops against the odds. Marsh Cormack, a large and highly effective lock made his presence felt and it is difficult to understand why Ian Cooper warmed the bench at kick off.

He is good with the ball and eats up ground. For the Army individuals who came of age over the season, including Auckland, sealed their corporate identity at Twickenham. This Reds team certainly has further to go.

Coach Andy Sanger said he was proud of the way the players ignored the conditions and hunted down the try line. “I know the players would have preferred dry conditions to play a quicker game, and in real terms, continuity was difficult. Our forwards and backs mastered the difficulties and there are good points that came out of this match which are in the cupboard for next season”.

Semesa Rokoduguni was awarded the BABCOCK Man of the Match trophy.

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