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Army V Newcastle Falcons

ARMY 31 PTS—NEWCASTLE FALCONS 31 – Portugal Training Climax

The climax of the Portugal Training camp was a match against the Newcastle Falcons who were completing a similar mission with their Premiership side at the Browns Resort. The squad was justifiably ‘tired’ having been beasted for a good week that included a game against the Portuguese club champions DG Dirieto. Won 59 pts—14.

Head coach Andy Sanger chose a strong side which must be close to the Inter Service XV yet heralding the clear fact that, even as late as April, there were shirts to be won against the RAF and at Twickenham. The Falcons started with a whoosh and were 17 pts up within 20 minutes—a not unfamiliar tale when the Army faced a Premiership team. Semesa Rokoduguni finished off a stunning move in the corner whilst Peceli Nacamavuto crashed through the defence under the posts.

The Reds gradually tuned to the intensity of Premiership rugby and scored two great tries.

Ceri Cummins converted both. After the break Cummings struck a beautiful penalty for a 17 pts all tally and an amazing final 20 minutes. The forwards were by now truly fired up with skipper Darrell Ball and Mark Lee rampaging. Isoa Damudamu arrived off the bench with Maccu Koroiyadi as ‘impact’ —and they did just that. Damu cancelled out a Falcons try for 24 all, the Falcons re-took the lead, Dave Duffus, a player always on hand to provide the score, crossed and Cummings squared it at 31 pts all.

Your scribe was not present but interrogating the lucky many, there was clearly a ‘Wow’ factor about this encounter.

Recognising a great Reds performance Falcons coach John Wells—former England coach and Leicester Tigers lock forward –said the Army on that showing “could hold their own at the top of the Championship”. A factual accolade like that needs no elaboration. So, the pencil is sharp and Andy Sanger has a clean sheet of paper.It’s the RAF at Halton on 11 April (KO 1430 hrs) and Twickenham on Sat 28 April. His mind must be churning because the Army has never been so well off for players– and good cover for those players—ironically at a time of high intensity operations overseas.

Coincidence—probably not.

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