The Army U23 defeated the RAF U23 on 28 November to retain the Inter Service Championship. It wasn’t always clear cut as the Airmen showed skills in attack and vigour in defence.
With wise words from the dressing room still buzzing in their ears the Army opened at a high tempo. Skipper Ross Parkins (RE) and No8 Ryan Lewis (Rifles) led strong charges deep into Air space, whilst flanker Scott Thompson (RA) hunted and supported well. The front row was solid. The forwards were going well.
Points to follow?—No, not immediately. The Airmen were organized and up for a scrap. They secured and retained the ball for large chunks of play and were game to attack. Whilst the ever reliable James Dixon (RE) slotted a penalty the RAF’s lock Lloyd Hadley dotted down a well grafted try, kicked the conversion and added a penalty.
The Army stabilized at the end of the second quarter. Huge clearance kicks from fly half Dixon drove the Airmen onto the defence and a rare glimpse of Army enterprise allowed Ben Turaganivalu (RA) to smash into the corner to cut the RAF’s half time lead to 10 pts—8.
At the start of the second period the Army showed urgency but somehow it didn’t click. Overlaps were ignored, emaciated wingers were left out in the cold (and then replaced) as crash and thump was iced with suicidal ‘chip’n and catch’ moves. More points to the RAF.
As the Halton sun burst through the mist, Turaganivalu again shrugged off would-be tacklers to sprint home and secure the lead. Scrum half Oliver Watkins (RE) ran hard for 30m to finish off some slick handling. Dixon converted both and secured a brace of penalties.
Scott Thompson was deservedly named ‘Man of the Match’
Maybe, conscious of the prize before them, the ‘Class of 2014’ pressed too hard to give a ‘performance’ in their final game together. We will see more of these players as they move onwards in their rugby careers. Thanks to Head Coach Captain Andy Campbell (WG) and his dedicated team they do have a bright future.
For the ‘stats’ the RAF’s brave performance was rewarded with second place in the 2014 Championship, ahead of the Royal Navy who had beaten them in Portsmouth.