On a wet cold Wednesday night at the Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot a new look Army Masters team with 11 changes from last season’s team took to the pitch to face a HM Prison side. The traditional first fixture of the New Year always has a bit of spice and this was no different, the HMP with a sprinkling of ex-servicemen in their ranks always have a few big players who run hard at your defence and this year was going to be no different.
To the credit of the teams despite the poor conditions they both tried to play a quick open running game. This brought reward for the Masters when winger SSgt Karl Hinton showed pace and style to finish of a couple of good phases from the Masters pack with a couple of scores for an early lead 10-0. But the HMP hit back with a good driving maul with one of their forwards touching down to make the score 10-5. A jinking run from Sgt Rob Smart through a couple of opposition defenders puts pressure on the HMP defence and only an illegal bit of play stops him for scoring, he steps up to kick the penalty under the posts for a 13-5 lead. The blitz defence of the Masters is not quite working well and this allows a HMP player to waltz through a couple of would-be Masters defenders to score under the posts 13-12, and its game on.
SSgt Steve Limbrick has to leave the field with a shoulder injury and is replaced by WO2 Matt France, who only lasts about 4 minutes on the park before collecting a yellow card from the referee and its ten minutes in the sin bin. Down to fourteen the Masters still look to move the ball wide and Maj Billy Glendenning playing at scrum half scores one of the
tries of the night in the corner after some good handling from the Masters winger Capt Billy Bragg.
The HMP are not finished yet and answer back with another score so it is 18-17 to the Masters going in at half time. Not a bad first half effort, but there is still abit of rust to some of the Masters play with a couple of passes not going to hand and a couple of key players making bad decisions in some wrong areas of the park. So some harsh words from the coaching staff at the break, and the Masters start the half with some style with Capt Sly Sylvester crashing over for a try. After ten minutes the Masters make some changes, one of these is at nine with Capt Dave Boocock who is quick to make profit on a HMP scrum under pressure and nips through to poach a ball from his opposite number and touch down for a try with Sgt Rob Smart adding the extra with a good kick from out wide for a 30-17 lead.
Its one way traffic now as the Masters pile forward in numbers and Maj Ollie Orminston completes a fine individual performance on the night with a try; with Masters full back WO2 Brad Sutherland now doing the kicking duties adding the extra points.
The coaching staff tinker with the backs moving players into a couple of different positions when Army Masters skipper for the night WO1 Andy Evans has to leave the pitch to have some stitches to a facial cut, but still the movement is always forward from the Masters and WO2 Brad Sutherland completes the scoring for the night with a try and a good conversion kick.
Final score 44-17.
After the game Army Masters Head Coach WO2 Mark Reed commented: “A solid performance for most of the game in what I consider our 3rd Inter Service fixture after the RAF & Navy. Although this was the first fixture for the 2014/15 IS squad I am happy enough but as always can see room for minor improvement in a few areas.”
A number of players stood out with Capt Sly Sylvester leading from the front well backed up by the remainder of the pack, the backs hands were pretty slick and Capt Billy Bragg looked composed and dare I say ‘exciting’ playing out of position on the wing. However I think another forward Maj Ollie Orminston stood out on the night with great carries into opposition territory finishing the night with a well taken try.
Match Report: WO2 Jim Evans