A well contested game that saw both sides experiment with players positions and combinations, with the Army Academy rotating 32 players through a structured development game that was broken into 2 x 20 mins & a 30 min session to conclude.
The first 20 mins was all Hampshire who got to grips with a swirling wind and an Academy side that was playing their first fixture. Poor set piece organisation and positional alignment saw the visitors run in 3 very soft tries. By the end of the 20 mins the Academy players had begun to address some of the issues with their structure. As the whistle signalled the end of this first development period the Academy changed their complete front row and elements of the 2nd row & back row as well as almost the entire 3/4s. The effect was instant and dramatic. The Academy began to dominate the set piece – winning all of the scrums in the 2nd 20mins including 5 taken against the head. The Academy provided possession to an exciting back line that ran in 2 tries of their own. Strong line out work further cemented this possession with the pack driving over from 5m out to add a 3rd try and take the young Reds into the break level on the score board.
The final 30 mins was a close affair that saw numerous changes and allowed all Academy players to get game time against a strong opposition. Both sides exchanged tries and with 5 minutes to go the scores were level at 24-24, setting a tense final period of the game. A missed tackle and excellent support to the ball carrier saw Hampshire break the Academy line and score close to the posts allowing an easy conversion and a 7 point lead to the visitors. A Hampshire penalty with 2 minutes to play, gave the calm heads time to be used up and add 3 points to the score stretching their lead to 10points.
Despite a spirited and well supported break by the Academy a knock on saw the referee call time on a game that achieved much for both sides.
From an Academy point of view it was promising to see the players employing the principles of play in their game, with huge praise due for the way in which they carried the ball forward with support and always contesting for possession. Future training sessions will see these themes developed further.
The next fixture is against Ealing Trailfinders on Sunday 1st October kick off 1400hrs at the Army Rugby Stadium, Queens Avenue, Aldershot. We look forward to welcoming supporters to that fixture.