Royal Navy 26 — 22 Army
The ROYAL NAVY are the 2015 Under -23 Inter Service Champions. The better team on the night beat the Army 26pts-22 at Portsmouth much to the delight of a very vociferous crowd that urged the Navy to claw in every point.
It did not have to be that way. The Army, bodies on fire BUT brains at the bottom of the ocean, showed enough talent and enough graft to edge a very tight game.
The But, a huge But, was that they failed to appreciate the fundamentals of playing winning competitive rugby in a howling gale.
The Army had a physical advantage and ran into contact with great gusto. Skipper Parkins led from the front and was everywhere – until he was binned. Parkins and Lamont together were strong at the maul and produced sensible off-loads, particularly against the wind in the second half.
Outside the workmanlike Cannon and Peck at half back, Coombs and O’Reilly in the centre ran well as did Miller and Campey who both scored excellent wingers’ tries.
With such purposeful individual performances it is not impossible to conjure up a scenario where the Army, utilizing the might of the gale, scored four or five first half tries putting the result beyond doubt.
On the other side of the coin the Navy forwards defended to a man. They launched themselves into every play believing destiny was theirs. They tackled heroically and, given the opportunity, the backs ran with intent on hitting the line.
With such a tail wind Rees at scrum half, raised in the mud, rain and storms of West Wales, whacked the ball high into the gale and reaped the benefits of winning vital territory. Sensible, but not actually magic!
Rugby is never rocket science. Fundamentals are fundamentals—a simple strategy and hard graft. The Army could and maybe should have won this match –there were enough opportunities until the Navy wisely used the wind to slam the strategic door for the final quarter.
When the lessons have been absorbed, the Army U23 squad has the makings of playing productive rugby. Shame they let their first Inter Service game, and thereby the Championship, slip.
Against the RAF Under- 23 at Aldershot on Wed 25 November they have an opportunity to show what they, and their coaches, are made of at this level.