24 February 2012
On a pleasant warm winter afternoon in South West London, the Army Masters faced a young Kew Occasionals side at the Richmond Rugby ground.
From the start both sides were guilty of trying to play a too complicated game of Rugby, with both teams rushing the pass and spilling the ball. It was pretty much even with the Masters slightly shading the early exchanges, but despite being in the Kew 22 a couple times the Masters came away with nothing to show for their endeavour. From one of these forays the Masters with a lineout 5 metres from the Kew line failed to find the jumper, Kew were clear and from the following line out once again the Masters failed to secure the ball. Kew then attacked the Masters midfield and due to some poor tackling, Kew got the first try of the game with the conversion 7-0. Kew were now looking to move the ball away from the stronger and bigger Masters pack, which was starting to pay dividends as the younger fitter Kew back division were now starting to cut loose. Yet more missed tackles lead to another Kew try 14-0. Despite the Masters having quite a bit of possession and being in the Kew 22 a few times, they still failed to register on the score board. It was a frustrating time for the Masters as the Kew forwards continued to infringe at regular intervals and this was stopping the Masters building up any momentum with the Referee seemingly unwilling to use his yellow card. Quick turnover nearly saw Kew score a try from deep only some last gasp try saving tackles stoped another Kew score. The Masters worked up the park and had a chance to get points from a penalty but opted for a lineout and more than just 3 points, however once again the lineout jumper was missed and another chance went begging.
Half time and the team were pretty quiet, the coaching staff made a few changes due to a couple of people carrying knocks. SSgt Dave Goddard, WO2 Mark Kane being replaced by Cpl “Racks” Rakabu and Cpl Lee Davies. The second half started poorly for the Masters and they soon found themselves down another 2 tries as it seemed all too easy for the Kew backs. Even when the Masters put pressure on the Kew line a quick turnover lead to another Kew try with the Kew side now having the confidence to run the ball whenever they got the opportunity. SSgt Bongo Davies had to leave the field with a blood injury being replaced by Sgt Rob Smart at scum half. The Masters kept pushing forward looking for some positives with the forwards deciding the ball was staying with them, after a couple of good phases of forward drives SSgt Mark Eastley went over for a score, the kick was good and Masters were on the score-board at last. 7-47. Good carries by Maj Andy Davie and Maj Tom Wood brought the Masters into the Kew 22 and a good break from WO2 Darrel Cooper rewarded the Masters with another score. The Masters started to take risks and quick turnover allowed the Kew backs to once again punish the team. There was still time left in the game for Cooper to make another good break and the forwards made the most of it with some good hard phases. This allowed Maj Ewen Cameron to go over for the last score of the game resulting in a final score of 21-53. It was hard day at the office for the Army Masters with the Kew quicker, much younger back line punishing any loose play or ball.
Army Masters head coach SSgt “Tiny” Baker commented after the game:
“We were up against a younger fitter side that gave us a lesson in simple support play. Our defensive line soon learned that you need to make your first up tackles count or you’re then on the back foot. When we did up the tempo and run our game plan we did find holes in their defence. We have some areas to concentrate on during our training camp, in Scotland in March, but I know the lads are up for it and are looking forward to it.”
Report by WO2 Jim Evans