13 November 2012
The new season opened for the Army Masters with a new way of doing business. An open training session was held at Queens Avenue, Aldershot for all those interested in playing for the Masters this season on the 11th & 12th of October with the aim of the two days to select a pool of players ready to retain the Inter-services title for a third season in a row. The Thursday started with a warm up with some contact drills followed by a fitness test before lunch. It was a good job it was before lunch and not after, or the good food provided by Garrets might have been wasted.
As a Squad we also welcomed back into our ranks WO1 Mick Davies who brings his wealth of experience to the job of Masters Forwards Coach and he made sure the Rhino machine was fully utilised during the following training sessions. It’s a tribute to all those involved in the training camp that they brought a full commitment to it as a busy team Physio and A&E department at Frimley Hospital can testify to. Despite losing a few people to injury and work commitments Head Coach SSgt Tiny Baker was still able to field 2 teams on the Friday afternoon with both teams able to put into practice what the coaching staff had been drilling into them over the training sessions. Four weeks later we took to the field to play our first competitive game of the season against a REME veteran’s side.
We hit the ground running and after a couple of minutes of play wing Maj Dom Hayakawa went over for what he claims was the score of the game, but most of us on the touchline must have missed that try and been looking in another direction. 5:0 to the Masters and the REME must have thought they were in for a rough night when a few minutes later after some nice quick hands in the backs Capt Camie Hastie playing at flanker was on hand to finish a move which gave the Masters a 10:0 lead with the conversion missed. However this woke the REME from their slumber and they started to roll forward utilising in particular their own Masters Squad members Maj Ewen Cameron and WO1 Mark Wilding to good effect. It was whilst defending one of these attacks that SSgt Bongo Davies playing at scrum half suffered an injury to his leg and had to leave the field of play, we all wish him well and a speedy recovery from what looked like a serious injury; he was replaced by Cpl Lala Lalauvaki.
The REME continued their good work but the Masters defensive line was working well and managed to keep them at bay. In particular WO2 Neil Griffiths and SSgt Dave Goddard playing in the back-row doing their normal hard graft when needed, they are not a pair you would want to meet in a narrow alley on a dark night. The second half continued in the same vein as the first with WO2 Mark Kane and Cpl Pepsi Wacokecke being particularly strong in the midfield with their tackling and defensive play. It was from one of these plays in their own 22 that the Masters were able to get good turnover ball and travel up the length of the field for full back Cpl Epi Qolikibua to score a good try which topped a good all round performance for him on the night, 15:0 to the Masters. WO2 Calvin Venn playing at Fly Half was now on the park and he started to use his big left boot to good effect to get his pack in the right field position in the REME half. From a REME lineout the ball was stolen and passed through the back divisions hands for wing WO2 Stu James to score a smart try in the corner, conversion made and the game finishes 22-0 to the Masters. By all means not a polished performance but fair due to the REME Vets they kept the Masters honest in defence all game and quite a few of their players will be in the mix for a red shirt come the next fixture against Farnbourgh RFC on the 10th December at the Aldershot Stadium.
Match report by: WO2 Jim Evans
Head Coach Tiny Baker commented after the game:
“From the start it was clear that the REME were going to make an impression on the Masters as they too were under the eagle eyes of the selectors! The two packs were fairly matched which offered up some great CQB amongst the forwards, the Masters backs gained the upper hand after settling into the rhythm of the game.
Our attack was a little indecisive but in defence the hard work that the players put in kept the REME off the scoreboard.
Selection this year is going to be tough with hard decisions to be made as more quality players ‘come of age’ and the reputation of the Masters spreads”