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A magnificent second-half rally helped the Royal Engineers complete a three-peat as they beat arch-rivals Royal Artillery 37-27 to win a cracking Corps Championship Division One final.

The Sappers took an early lead when Spr Jack Johnson’s lovely short pass allowed Lt Blee to send Spr Ogunwole under the posts, the former adding the extras.

Their opponents replied through Bdr Pete Austin, the hooker rumbling over at the back of a maul before Bdr Owain Davies levelled matters.

Breaks from Johnson and LCpl Kurtis Booth set-up Spr Vili Tabuatamata to put the Engineers back in front, but a string of high tackles eventually saw Cpl Eyres sin-binned.

The Gunners took advantage as Austin doubled his tally, and a delightful grubber kick was then hoovered up by Sgt Connor O’Reilly to put his side ahead for the first time.

Spr Mikey McDonald cut the gap with a penalty on the stroke of half-time, but his side were reduced to 13 men with two more high-tackle sin-bins early in the second period.

Things got worse for the Sappers as O’Reilly’s brilliant turnover on their line ended with Austin completing a hat-trick on the left, but from there the Engineers were inspired with a dazzling 22-point unanswered haul.

Firstly, Spr Qainuci’s break freed Johnson to produce a glorious back-of-the-hand off-load to send Spr Qiolevu over, McDonald converting for 22-22, and Ogunwole’s marvellous finish nudged his side back in front.

Man-of-the-match McDonald slotted the conversion and penalty, and the Sappers landed the fatal blow through Spr Komaitai, the replacement wing touching down following McDonald’s quick tap penalty.

The Artillery kept going to the end, but despite scrum-half Gnr Vosanibole stretching over from a metre out with the final play, it was not enough to stop their rivals winning a third straight title.

The Infantry survived being reduced to 12 men at one stage to beat the Royal Signals 24-16 in the Division Two decider.

Pte Muritoki slotted an early penalty to give the Infantry a lead nullified by Sig Kevin van der Leest, but they were behind again when a terrific break from Rfn Vili Salusalu sent Hldr Vula over on the left.

Muritoki added the extras before van der Leest kicked another penalty, and it was the Signals who then went ahead with a sublime score, a cracking midfield break from Taraiasi Wara ending with a try on the right.

Vula became the first Infantry man to be carded before van der Leest missed a shot at goal, and his side then received a yellow when Kola Kalewabau put in a high shot.

Van der Leest made it 16-10 from a scrum penalty early in the second period, and a trio of sin-binnings looked like it could spell curtains for the Infantry.

Yet they dug in superbly and then made a decisive move as a long kick saw them gain territory and a penalty, a quick tap sending LCpl Koroiadi across the whitewash for a converted score and one-point lead.

A long-range van der Leest penalty effort failed to get the Sigs back in front, and the Infantry sealed the deal late on as Fus Wara touched down.

THE Royal Army Physical Training Corps stunned the Army Medical Services – who had gone unbeaten in the Group Stage – 30-22 to be crowned Division Three champions.

A LATE try from wing Yaz Yaravoli – his second of the afternoon – helped snatch Masters’ glory for the Royal Engineers, the Sappers edging out the previously perfect REME 22-17.

No. 8 Ilaitia Rocavasiga also crossed the whitewash for the champions, with outside centre Lorima Waqa named man-of-the-match.

REME – supplemented by players from the Royal Engineers and Royals Signals – were winners of the Women’s competition after defeating Royal Logistics Corps 15-12 in a cracking encounter.

Pte Pinch converted a LCpl Conn try to put RLC in front, but it was REME who led at the break thanks to a five-pointer from Maj Annika Willis and a penalty slotted by captain LCpl Emily McPherson.

Cpl Earnshaw crossed from close range midway through the third quarter to extend the advantage, and while Pte India King’s try gave the RLC hope, they were unable to add to their tally in a gallant loss.

Words © Richard Ashton

All images – Alligin Photography © Andrew Fosker


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