Saturday 27 April 2013
Kneller Hall Twickenham
The business end of the season and after a couple of days training in Aldershot the Army Masters Squad with no changes from the 22 who put the RAF Vultures to the sword took to the pitch at Kneller Hall knowing the Navy Mariners were going to offer much stiffer competition once again for this win takes all match. Right from the kick off there is intensity to the Rugby with both sides tackling hard with no quarter given or received.
Masters defence is good and strong with the scrum working hard to withstand good Mariners pressure. Early on the Masters mount some attacks and the Mariners over eagerness lead to early chances for the Masters to put points on the board but both penalty kicks go wide. The possession and territory finally has some reward as the Masters spoil a Mariners scrum and Jimmy Newton the Scrum Half is able to secure the ball and free up Calvin Venn the Masters Fly Half who still has a lot of work to do but shakes off a couple of would be tackles to go over for the first try 5-0, with the conversion missed.
The big hits on both sides keep the medical staff from both teams busy, but the stop and start nature of the game does not stop the Masters from maintaining the pressure on the Mariners defence and Masters skipper Ben Hughes is able to release the ball to flanker Camie Hastie who in turn feeds Winger Dan Ratu for a try in the corner 10-0 to the Masters with the conversion missed again. Mariners penalty count is mounting and the Referee has by now lost his patience and they collect the first yellow card of the game, but with the Masters unable to find a kicker in form the Mariners escape further punishment. Despite most of the possession and territory a lead of 10-0 at half time is scant reward for all the effort.
The Head Coach Tiny Baker makes a change with Ben Birkbeck replacing the every busy Garry Windle at Hooker but with a couple of people needing medical attention whole sale changes are postponed for the time being. Second half and the Navy Mariners come out all gun blazing and the Masters defence has to withstand a period of intense pressure from the dark blue and they look like they have weathered the storm until from a turnover the Mariners break away for a try under the posts 10-7 game on. The Masters now bring on the fresh legs with Pepsi Wacokecoke on for Mark Kane, and at prop Si Hughes replacing Ewen Cameron after his normal impressive shift at the coal face.
The Masters get the message and start to up the tempo against a tiring Mariners defence. Winger Dom Hayakawa makes a break and is able to slip a pass to Bruno Green who goes for the line in the corner but is just forced into touch before he can touch down. More changes with Simon Orr replacing Mark Eastley in the front row, also skipper Ben Hughes has to leave the field with a knock he received in the first half to the knee and is replaced by Raks Rakabu.
The Mariners once again have a man sent to the bin, but just to even things up the officials decide to send Dom Hayakawa to the bin. A worry for the Masters despite all the ball they have still failed to turn the advantage into points until Gareth Williamson playing at eight goes on one of his trade mark runs into the heart of the Mariners defence, the ball is given to Green who with a nice turn of pace is able to feed Dan Ratu for his second try of the game in the corner 15-7.
Stu James is now on for Hayakawa and Bongo Davies replaces Newton at scrum half after he has put in an impressive display on his Kneller Hall debut. The message from the coaching staff is keep possession and the pack answer the call with Dave Goddard and Sandy Fitzpatrick always looking to get over the game line. The Mariners this time really upset the match officials and a red card means they will finish the game with only 14 players after a bit of foul player.
Masters looking to finish the game in style with some excellent phases of keep rugby and slowly edge towards the Mariners line with Man of the Match Dave Goddard finishing off a nice piece of Rugby going over for a score of 20-7. There is still some time for the Mariners to mount a final push but the tackling of the Masters means the Mariners have to settle for just the one score as the referee blows the whistle for the end of the game.
Head Coach Tiny Baker commented after the game:
“Starting the season with over 50 possible players for the Masters, the squad that took the field against the Navy Mariners can be rightly proud of their performance. Although we had a great result against the RAF it was evident that we could still improve. Our defensive game, creating great turnover ball, proved to be the winning factor as historically both sides have never relinquished ground willingly. In attack we had to earn the right to move the ball across the backs and once we had drawn in their defence we managed just that. Our forwards and backs created what was a pretty impenetrable red line that eventually wore down the Mariners, especially when their ‘big runners’ were stopped in their tracks. A great dogged performance and great end to a season.”
Post match Capt Camie Hastie was presented with the “Player of the Season Award”
Match Report by: WO2 Jim Evans