An emerging Army XV lost to a Northampton Saints XV 47pts—29 in the Mobbs Memorial Match at Franklin’s Gardens on 20 March.
An appreciative crowd of 2500 applauded the willingness of both teams to thrust forward from almost any quarter—so the Saints opened with power and pace scoring three clean cut tries adrift within 12 minutes. For the Army it was a testing period of finger-tip defence. There just were not enough fingers.
Having conceded a ‘triple whammy’, the Reds played some fine attacking rugby to score four good tries.
Darrel Ball, this time in a No7 shirt, drove hard into the Saints defence. He led from the front, showed what was possible and from that ‘tipping point’ it became a pretty even game. Dave Bates at his side was another tower of strength.
Man for man pressure, with a great dollop of Fiji flair, forced inroads into the Saints defence. Quick ball from Tom Chennell and the returning Peceli Nacamavuto showed what we had been missing. Step, step and yet another step produced a great try.
A penalty by James Dixon, a try from Gerhard Wessels and the score distilled to 21pts-15. Respectability.
Certainly the second half presence of fly half Jack Prasad was a major factor in bringing both wings into play. His reputation was well chaperoned by the Saints but nevertheless he bought time and space to be exploited by Nacamavuto and Wessels.
With both centres proving dangerous, the Saints were obliged to tighten up the middle which found Army wingers looking for glory.
Ray Bishop and Tams Tamatawale produced memerising runs. Both show raw speed and are elusive runners in attack. Bishop ran at tiring legs linking well. Tamatwale looks for work and is not afraid to run the angles. He is hard to trap with the squirming pace and power that bypasses would-be tacklers. He scored.
Vitally Rob Lennox and Will Jones were tuned to the occasion, flying in close support and ready to expand the attack. A succession of incisive breaks and quick rucking forced the Saints to defend and for large periods and the Army were better than ‘evens’. Hooker Pete Austin was hitting his man in the lines-out, and the heavy mob built from there..
There were some positive performances. Prop Titchard Jones, Ledua Jope who drove and scored and Maccu Koroiyadi were in overdrive and Tom Chennell at scrum half, who goes from strength to strength,.was a revelation in the way he sought to attack.
So we need a SITREP on the Twickenham Trail for 3 May.
“No one likes to leak 40 pts” said coach Axel Rees, “but that was high intensity rugby. To an extent I consider we are still building and it is important to evaluate performances on the evidence”.
“This Mobbs Match has told me quite a lot about horses for courses and we are all wiser for the great experience. Tonight provided a sharp contrast between natural flair and groomed pro-rugby. I am happy with what we have got—we just need a bit more of what the Saints showed us, and that we will work on in Portugal.”