Bedford Blues XV 47pts—24 Army
The score line 47 pts–24 was not that pretty but both sides were at the Goldstone Ground to remember, and celebrate, the life and courage of England rugby star Lt Col Edgar Mobbs DSO who was killed at the Battle of the Somme during World War 1.
In his memory the ball was thrown expansively by both sides. It is probably true to say the professionals from the Bedford Blues club executed that strategy to greater effect than the Army but they did not have it all their own way.
Indeed the whole game was played by putting width on the ball at pro-pace. The Reds defence responded well but were on the back foot from the kick-off until the seventh minute when the Blues crossed for their first of seven tries. The Army response was first class, if a little risky, and quick ball across their own posts enabled Ratu Bulumakau to put his opposite number under some pressure. Pressure led to points and James Dixon at fly half kicked a penalty.
The exchanges up front levelled out and a mighty hoof followed by a strong combined surge allowed the ever alert Tom Chennell to nip over the line for Dixon to convert. Blues 7pts—10 Army.
Against men who are required to earn their money from rugby, mistakes will always be punished. Skilled and well drilled exponents will hoover-up spilled ball and run wisely from missed touches. Also, a man in the bin seldom helps but the Army tackling following Will Jones’ dismissal was superb. The Blues patiently and with increasing purpose went through the phases but the red line stood firm. Eventually the extra man counted and with the whistle permitting absolute possession, the home side scored two further tries. Half time Blues 26pts—10 Army.
In the second half the Army went down three tries to two. Hooker Mattie Dwyer (as seen on television v Bath Note 1) had a couple of penetrating runs and thundered over for a great try. Centre Peceli Nacamavuto once more showed his class to cross the line. Dixon converted both.
Other positives included the return of Ifereimi Boladau to the back row. He had a stormer in defence and attack with line busting runs off the back. Bulumakau on the left was always dangerous and Tuvita Tamatawalw on the opposite wing showed great spirit. He was unlucky not to get a brace.
As always the Mobbs Memorial Match was a great test of the Army’s willingness to confront a very good team and get something positive from the match. Against Bedford Blues, and 33pts-10 adrift going into the final quarter, the can-do spirit said ‘ we might not win the contest for the most points on this particular night but we will take lessons to the training camp in Portugal and return to the battle in better shape’. Smack on target. Fire for effect.
Note 1. If you havn’t yet received your copy Mattie will supply on disk.
ALSO ON THIS DAY IN 2015
French Air Force 11pts – 19 Royal Air Force
Royal Navy 19pts – 33 French Navy
Inter-Services—game on !!