Following on from an impressive 16-12 win against Hampshire in January, the development team assembled knowing the forthcoming fixture against Surrey, the current county champions, who would be a different prospect.
With two good day’s preparation under their belts, including sessions training with the senior team, the side took to the field under lights in Aldershot. Surrey, who were using the game as part of their selection process for the 2017 county championship campaign, had assembled a large squad.
The early stages were a mixed affair and perhaps predictably Surrey took an early lead scoring out wide, before adding a second on the opposite side of the pitch minutes later. The Army side started to grow in confidence, but made mistakes which were capitalised on by Surrey, who scored two more tries before the break.
The reds returned to the field after half time, encouraged by coaches Maj Aime Williams (AGC) and WO1 (ASM) Marty Pinner and inspired by skipper, Sgt Laura Lattimer’s rousing half-time speech. Surrey fielded a completely changed second half team, hoping to spot some new talent for their upcoming campaign. The effect was obvious and immediate; the reds took the upper hand, camping in Surrey’s 22 for almost the entire second half; building pressure and asking questions of the Surrey Defence. It wasn’t long before LBdr Jade Newman RA broke the defence and scored the reds first try with Pte Bethan Lloyd RAMC adding the extras.
Almost immediately after the re-start the reds resumed their field position in the Surrey half and Cpl Bev Gilbert soon added another try from a quick tap and go. The pressure was firmly on Surrey who struggled to deal with the Army’s power and passion. The reds pack was making holes and the back line was exploiting the ensuing confusion. Cpl Gilbert added another try, making the score 17 – 20. This caused Surrey to return a large proportion of their first half team to the field in a bid to hold their lead. The Army maintained possession and attacked the Surrey line relentlessly. Sadly the required score was not forthcoming and as another threatening Army attack was bundled into touch the final whistle blew. The final score Army 17 Surrey 20.
The whole team did themselves and the watching Army support proud with a selfless and committed performance that deserved more than the narrow loss. It was exceptionally difficult to single out individuals in, what was an outstanding team performance, but the Surrey team selected the rampaging LCpl Abigail Hamilton REME and Newman, forward and back of match respectively.
The coaching staff will take a great deal from this display and will hope to improve on this seasons achievement’s with a very talented, exciting and promising squad. They also look forward to a return fixture with Surrey who provided excellent opposition.