DOLPHINS MARCH TO VICTORY
17 Port & Maritime Regiment RLC 17 pts—12 2 Royal Welsh
The VEOLIA Army Premiership Final was a cliff hanger. In the league play offs the Welsh had triumphed but in the run-up to the Final the pundits agreed the Final was too close to call.
The Welsh line-out was well organized and scrum half Morgan Evans threw a series of long defence splitting passes. The attacks fizzed, and fizzed some more, but too infrequently went bang.
On ten minutes centre Welsh Turugakula scored to establish some small measure of authority. They could and should have had another hat full, but against the run of the tide the Dolphins fullback Ferguson crossed on 20 minutes and fly half Corderoy converted. The narrow lead was wiped out when wing Mansfield gave the Welsh a 12pts-7 lead at half time. The Welsh were in the ascendancy but far from convincing.
The arrival of the Dolphin’s Damudamu at No8 was the game-changer. He ran at the Welsh off the back of the set pieces ‘am byth’. The England 7s international had pace, grace and strength out of the tackle. His own support too frequently failed to keep pace but, crucially, the Dolphins were moving forward and the texture of the match changed until the final few minutes when the Dragon found some more fire.
In round terms by then it was five minutes to go and five points the difference. The Welsh attacks led to the Dolphins reverse slope trenches where penalties were conceded in rapid succession. Time and again skipper Read pushed the ball tightly into the corner, the Welsh drove and the Dolphins somehow clung to the life rafts, the flotsam and jetsam—anything to prevent the Welsh crossing.
The Welsh were gracious in defeat. They have lifted the Army Cup so many times that they knew what it meant to the Dolphins to win at last. Dolphin’s No 10 Charlie Corderoy was the ‘Man of the Match’.
Coach and analyst WO2 Geryn Jones said “We have all waited a long time for this moment. Damu made a difference but it was the efforts of the rugby squad and the whole Regiment that brought the Army Cup to Marchwood”. Someone once said ‘why do we bother with conversions ?’. After this they should know—a Welsh conversion, or penalty, would have turned this cliff hanger on its head.