Army Head coach Captain Andy Sanger RE took the RAF match result on the chin, dragged his troops from the trenches and said ‘Attack’. He picked a pack to provide the ball and a back division that had more tricks than a box load of frogs.
Before 81,116 screaming dervishes his combination stuffed the initiative up their jumpers and said ’Mine’ and it took hard graft and just one Semesa Rokoduguni burst to seal the result .
The Navy had arrived at ‘HQ’ with a corporate degree of swagger. The West Car Park hummed to the sound of synchronized ‘ring-pulls’ as those sporting Dark Blue anticipated one of the first Navy victories since Nelson was a lad. After all, the maths stacked up and it was at long last time for a few ‘selfies’. Sanger had other ideas.
Key to a simple strategy on ball control was Chris Budgen who, at 42 years of age and winning his 39th cap, ‘did the bizz’. He locked the first piece of the structural jigsaw into the Twickenham turf to provide the Reds with the foundations for Victory.
Mattie Dwyer, Ricky Reeves in the front row scrummed, Darrel Ball and Will Jones jumped like salmon whilst Ledua Jope, Maccu Koroiyadi and Chris Mundy created and scavenged as the situation demanded. Pete Austin and Warren Ross-Allen took their turn at the coal face to great effect.
Against successive waves the Navy fought manfully, on occasion too literally, but the Army controlled the rugby.
Indeed it was thoroughbred Amazon rugby. Scrum half Tom Chennell did the quick ‘order to delivery ’ bit and Jack Prasad was on his way. He had a commanding sort of game pulling, pushing, adjusting and then darting before releasing his three quarters. He is the sort of player that props would love to meet but never get quite close enough to read the number on his back.
Gerhard Wessels and Peceli Nacamavuto reinforced the message—‘we are here to play’. Both teased and taunted before releasing firstly Jonasa Bulumakau to fizz and then Roko to thunder. Both scored great tries, Roko from his own ‘22’ to thunderous Reds applause.
Pressure has always meant points and Army full back Owain Davies, in his first Twickenham match for the Reds calmly delivered and delivered.
Will Jones in his finest game in a Reds’ shirt notched a brace showing indecent pace whilst skipper Darrell Ball winning his 25th Cap never played a better game.
The Navy battled individually to ride out the storm. Ben Priddey, Marsh Cormack and Dave Fairbrother fought the good fight but not all referees would have taken so kindly to Fairbrother’s methods. Scrum half and long term skipper Dave Pascoe came on for his record 16th Army Navy match and immediately slotted into his default rhythmic delivery.
As the Army climbed the steps to receive the BABCOCK Trophy Andy Sanger said “Well done—great response but we now put that to one side for the history writers. Like most coaches I am going to ask for more. After a Summer break the players will be fresh and it is back to fresh ideas and hard graft.
Bulumakau was awarded Man of the Match which reflects well on his great first season in the Reds squad but today showed he is one of a number of really good young players coming through the Inter Corps – ‘A’ XV channel. In the lead up to the Autumn these guys are going to be burning the shirts off the backs of the established players. Can’t wait”
Nor can we.