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A swashbuckling start set the tone for an impressive Army performance as the hosts crushed Irish Defence Force 80-8 in their final game before the Inter-Services Championship.

The Red Shirts roared out of the blocks with three tries in the opening seven minutes, going on to clock up 54 in a one-sided first half.

It was Rfn Imi Qorowale (Rifles) who got things going, the Doncaster Knights wing finishing smartly from a move started by a huge carry from No. 8 Cpl Bolodau (R Sigs).

Spr Jack Johnson (RE) landed the conversion, and the fly-half made it a quick-fire double after collecting a fine off-load from LCpl Solodrau Radianirova (REME), the extras again added for 14-0.

Qorowale then showed his pace and power to run in from halfway for another converted effort, albeit some ill-discipline then helped get the visitors on the scoreboard, Luke Johnson with a 30-metre penalty from in front of the posts.

The Army responded emphatically, though, a strong carry from Sgt Matt Dawson (Int Corps) punching a hole in the Irish defence which ended with Bdr Owain Davies (RA) crossing on the right.

Championship ace Dawson repeated the trick shortly afterwards, Radianirova then dancing his way under the posts for Johnson to make it four kicks from five.

Yet despite their dominance the Red Shirts were still getting on the wrong side of the referee, a hefty penalty county eventually leading to the sin-binning of LCpl Vereti (REME) and a first try for Irish guest player Fus Aaron James (R Welsh), the full back spotting a gap to burrow over from close range.

That was as good as it got for the away side, however, the Army adding another three converted scores before the interval.

The first two were both created by useful surges from the outstanding Qorowale – Tpr Levi Roper (ODG) and Davies the beneficiaries – before Radianirova doubled his tally.

The Defence Force came out bravely during the third quarter, the hosts having to wait until the 57th minute for Roper to cut a fine angle off a line-out for his side’s ninth try of the evening.

Johnson’s kick took his side into the 60s, and possibly the score of the match came shortly after as a wonderful free-flowing move was finished in the right corner by replacement prop Sgt Gareth Smith (R Welsh).

A magnificent Johnson touchline effort was followed by the sin-binning of Dawson for not rolling at the breakdown, but the Army made light of their numerical disadvantage as Johnson’s perfect cross-field chip was collected by LCpl Pita Ratukareu (REME) to scorch over on the right.

Another two points from Johnson’s boot took him to 25 for the night, and there was still time for Davies to complete his hat-trick at the end of another terrific team move.

The Red Shirts now head for a warm-weather camp in Cyprus next week before taking on the Royal Navy at Twickenham on Saturday, May 4.

Words © Richard Ashton

All images – Alligin Photography © Lee Crabb


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