This year was the 96th running of the famous battle between the Army and Navy’s ‘super sports’ at Twickenham, incidentally it was also the 10th anniversary of Babcock’s sponsorship of the match, for that we are ever grateful.
For once the weather was not on the side of the spectators; the wettest week in a few years had disrupted both sides’ preparations; however a healthy crowd of over 4000 turned out at Kneller Hall to watch the Master and Womens games which have become the annual battles for bragging rights between the teams.
The Army Women have been undefeated since the women’s competition has started, the Army women’s backs were as sharp as always however the Navy’s scrum started off the dominant force pushing the red eight back on several occasions in the opening exchanges. This had the desired effect to focus the REDs and they ran in several well worked trys to eventually run out comfortable winners 46 – 5.
The Master v Ancient Mariners game was billed to be the toughest of the day, the Navy had a strong set of forwards and the Army Masters new they were in for a battle. Such was the case, after 60 minutes the Navy mariners held a slender 6 – 5 lead; time for Army skipper SSgt Garry Windle RE to issue the rallying call, with pomp and circumstance the REDS responded, two well worked tries had them run out winners 19 – 6 after a tough and bruising encounter.
Attention switched to Twickenham stadium, the Military wives choir entertained the record 65,302 crowd prior to kick off before head coach Andy Sanger’s cohorts stepped up to the plate. The weather demanded a slow forward dominated match, nobody had told the teams that, the first 15 minutes were as bruising as an Inter Service match but just as he had done against the RAF, LCpl Semesa Rokoduguni, QDG displayed the sort of pace that has more than one professional team looking for his talents. His first two tries were a mixture of raw pace and brutal strength and after Cpl Ceri Cummings REME had exchanged penalties the Army went into the half time break 19 -6 up.
The Navy as you would expect came out at the start of the second half like a heavy battleship blasting its 12 inch guns into the enemy, they were looking to decrease the lead, five metres out Capt Mark Lee ALS turned the ball over, and the ball was shipped sharply through eight sets of wet and slippery hands before LBdr Sam Speight RA outpaced a tired Navy defence to run in from 40 metres.
The REDs turned the screw, skipper Sgt Darrell Ball RE crossed after a powerful scrum, Rokoduguni scored his well deserved hat trick after fly half Pte Jack Prasad 1 Scots looked to repeat his solo try from 12 months past and it left replacement Capt Dave Duffas to fly over for the last score, a well deserved and convincing victory 48 – 9.
Note to self next years game is Saturday 27 April 2013 at Twickenham.