Army Premiership Final 214 will be between 12 Regt RA and 2 Bn Royal Welsh
On a mild and mainly dry afternoon in Warminster the two semi-finals of this historic Army Rugby Union Cup competition were played out. Game one had the hosts 1 Bn The Yorkshire Regt play 12 Regt RA and over at the Land Warfare Centre two recent winners battled out an encounter that lasted over 100 minutes.
The Yorks were keen to repeat their league form against the Gunner side; however Army prop Ken Dowding and his team had other ideas. A dominant Gunner ‘eight’ controlled the ball in nearly every aspect of a strong first half performance and accurate tactical kicking with a good wind had the Gunners 20 – 8 up at half time and the game was nearly done. The Yorks who themselves had taken big scalps in the league had the backs to excite the home crowd but could not match Dowding and his well-drilled pack.
Two well worked tries in the middle of the first half gave intent that there was a strong chance of a Gunner Regiment in the Army final for the first time since the glory days of 7 Para RHA. The Yorks pressed in the second half and converted penalties but it wasn’t enough. Step forward finalists number one – 12 Regiment Royal Artillery.
Down the road the Dolphins (17 Port& Maritime Regt RLC) totally dominated the first half in this battle of past winners against 2nd Bn The Royal Welsh. Wave after wave of sky blue shirts pounded the Welsh try line, penalty kicks were missed and only towards the end of the half had them breach the stubborn Welsh defence. 7 – 0 to the Loggies at the half time break.
Many of the purists watching this one wondered if all the dominance and only 7 points were enough in the first half, would the lack of killer instinct come to haunt the Dolphins? Well in the 8th minute of the second half of extra time the Welsh had taken a three point advantage with Read kicking an easy penalty in the first half of extra time; that was ‘doable’ after they had driven well from a catch and drive from close to the line to go over in normal time leaving a difficult conversion for CS U23 scrum half Morgan Evans out wide which he kicked well to take the game into another 20 minutes.
The Dolphins were awarded a penalty five metres out and tapped and drove, with seconds ticking away the Welsh stole the ball and Evans passed deep into his dead ball area to James Read, he kicked to clear but his powerfull kick hit his own post and flew over the dead ball line, another scrum to the Dolphins, Chris Budgen who had come on with 20 minutes to play had not expected to play another 20 in extra time had steadied the scrum however the Dolphins won their own ball, less than a minute to play and six attacks that powered back again and again into the Welsh forwards; Magnus and Bunny stood out wide and looked on in despair. The Welsh were awarded a penalty for ‘hands in’ and that was that, the purists were right to question the first half dominance; step forward finalists number two, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Welsh.
The final on Tuesday 1st April at Aldershot will not suffer any fools and only teams playing their joker on this day will lift the famous cup.