Following on from the Senior Team fixture in Germany it was time for the Development Squad to run out for the first time in 2017. Under the direction of WO1 (RSM) Jules Simpson, ARU(W) Dev Team Manager the squad started to assemble on Thursday for a couple of days training with coaches Maj Amy Williams and WO1 (ASM) Marty Pinner before taking on a confident Hampshire side.
The ARU(W) had a strong squad that included the four new capped players from the Germany fixture and current Snr Squad players: Capt Chantelle Miller, Sgt Tara McGlade and LCpl Kayleigh Clemes. In addition, there were some old faces returning to a Red Shirt and Maj Anne O’Flynn; the former Army Skipper and International Forward, in the officiating team of three.
The game started in typical fashion with both team rushing the play and making unforced errors. On 10 minutes Hampshire got some go forward and their No 10 exploited a gap in the Army midfield and sprinted through to score close to the posts 0 – 7 to Hampshire. The game continued to be played in the same manner for a further 10 minutes; good tempo with glimpses of effective attacking play halted by good defence and some unforced errors.
From then on both teams started to put phases together, with the Army gaining the upper hand. Good phase play, involving forwards and backs, created the pressure needed and forced Hampshire to give away a kickable penalty in front of the posts on the 22; SSgt Carina Reeves made the score 3 – 7. From the restart the Army was on the front foot moving forward rapidly into the Hampshire 22. After the Army forwards gained ground around the fringes of the breakdown; Clemes was able to make a sniping run and go in under the post. Converted by Reeves 10 – 7.
With half time approaching the Army were put under pressure by Hampshire pressing forward. A covering scramble tackle by Army Flanker Cpl Bani on the Hampshire wing was deemed too by high and reckless. With the new laws in place, the Referee had no option but to show the yellow card. Continued pressure saw Hampshire win a scum on the Army 5 meter line resulting in a pushover try. Army down 10 – 12 at the break.
For the first 7 minutes of the 2nd half Hampshire continued to pressure 14 strong Army side. The Army defence however, was excellent, with the majority of play taking place between the two 22m lines. Once back to 15 the Army got on the front foot and capitalised on Hampshire infringements. Two kickable penalties were converted by Reeves and the Army took the lead 16 – 12.
These were the only points scored in the 2nd half with the score line finishing 16 – 12. This was a great test for both teams; Hampshire looking forward to going into the County Championship, the Army Development looking forward to hosting Surrey in March and some senior players getting some good game time under their belt in preparation for selection for England U20’s, Nomads and the 2017 Inter Services.