SAPPERS WIN JONES DRAKE CANONBALL
Royal Artillery 15 pts—Royal Engineers 21
So close–the Sappers were always points ahead in this scorching encounter but the Gunners were never more than a converted try in arrears. Had they kicked their points and retained discipline under the posts, they would have won.
Throughout an entertaining match the Royal Artillery ‘dug deep’ and, particularly in the last quarter, attacked with sweeping play that almost returned the Jones-Drake Trophy to Larkhill. The fact that they outscored the Engineers by three tries to two will not have gone unnoticed.
The Sappers benefitted from the return to form of some ‘old heads’ in Army skipper Darrell Ball (lock), Ledua Jope No8 and Gerhard Wessels (centre) but it was some of the ‘ supporting actors’ who nicked the Oscars.
James Dixon at fly half, eighteen years old, had an exemplary game, always seemingly with time on his hands. He took some stick in attack but emerged ready to go again. One tackle against 18 stone on the ‘ arty trundle’ ticked the ‘bravery box’ for ever. His place kicking and pounding to touch made a difference.
Inside Dixon Alipate Vakasawaka was lively at No 9 whilst Rich Kilbey at tight head prop had his opposite number in so much trouble that the scrum became something of a lottery– negating Gunner up-front firepower. Kilbey deserves a run in a Red shirt and should prepare accordingly. Baks Bakosa and Lordiwaqa scored the Sapper tries.
The Gunners played some powerful rugby but until the final minutes neglected the pace of Army flyer Sam Speight in favour of ‘pic’n drive’ — a tactic that produced some long range gain but proved strategically one dimensional.
It is difficult to go against a plan that conjured three no-nonsense tries but it could have been so much more—especially when Sappers spent valuable minutes warming the bench.
The Sappers deserved to win this one—the Gunners did not deserve to lose. The Sappers now go on to meet the REME in the Inter Corps Merit Final at Aldershot on 26 March.