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Army Senior Men’s Head Coach Capt Mal Roberts (RLC) says that the opening momentum proved crucial in the 35-20 Inter-Services Championship win over the RAF.

The Army came firing out of the blocks to tear into the RAF both with ball in hand and with some physical defence and quick line speed. They were rewarded by a pair of penalties from Spr Jack Johnson (RE) and a LCpl John Davetanivalu (R Signals) try which gave the red shirts a lead that they did not look like losing.

So it was understandable that Capt Roberts was a satisfied man in the Kingsholm tunnel.

“We’ve worked hard on our start,” he said, “so it was important to get the tempo right in the warm-up and then take it into the game for at least the first five to 10 minutes and stamp our authority on it.

“We made some errors, but with the hiatus there’s been during the two years of the pandemic I’m really pleased to have come back with a performance like that.

“To win an Inter-Services match by 35 points to 20 takes some doing, and the boys have got to be proud of their achievements.”

LCpl Semesa Rokoduguni (Scots DG) was the inevitable focus of attention from the broadcasters, the Bath and Army talisman going over for a try either side of half-time which broke the contest wide open.

But while Capt Roberts acknowledged the important role played by the former England international he was also quick to credit the rest of the team, too.

“Rocco’s a class player and showed that with his tries,” he said. “But he won’t mind me saying that it wouldn’t have happened without the hard work done on the inside of him to create those opportunities.”

One of those players to have steered the way was Spr Johnson, whose assured performance at fly half and 20 personal points earned him the player of the match award.

Before Christmas Spr Johnson featured for the Army U23s in their victories over the Royal Navy and RAF respectively in their Under-23 Inter-Services Championship title win, and Capt Roberts added his praise not just to the fly half, but to all of the players who earned themselves a senior Army cap.

“We had nine new caps today,” he said. “We conducted a trial in the autumn where we had over a hundred people trial. The players who got capped today might not have been seen in previous years. The system has worked this year.

“Someone like Jack was clearly a talented player, but it was also about giving him time and space to develop in the senior environment, and I think we’ve done that. We’ve given him 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, and then gave him a start, and today you saw that he is a good quality player.”

Next up for the Army Senior Men is a trip to Franklin’s Gardens to play a Northampton XV in the annual Mobbs Memorial Match. With a five-week gap until Army Navy Capt Roberts says that the outing in the East Midlands will be important for the team.

“From a military perspective the Mobbs Memorial Match remembers the Sporting Battalion who deployed and unfortunately didn’t return,” he said. “It’s poignant to us as service personnel.

“But the pleasing thing is that it’s a chance to give players an opportunity and see what they can do in a red shirt and integrate some players who may have been out injured.

“It’s going to be a challenging fixture but we’ll definitely get some good from it.”

Tickets for the 2022 Army Navy match (April 30th, Twickenham) are now available.

CLICK HERE for information about Army Navy

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks.

All images © Army v RAF Match – Alligin Photography, Cat Goryn, Lee Crabb, Neil Kennedy