The Army U23 played open rugby and scored three excellent tries against the Royal Navy at Aldershot on 23 November.
The Navy fought hard and were numerically never out of range. First class Navy kicking by Davies and the award of a try in the closing moments meant a 17 pts all draw. This gave the matelots an unbeaten Inter Service season but the Championship is there to be won.
Stay calm—it’s 5 points for Army Silverware and glory.
The Army pursued a vigorous 15-man game plan with increasing confidence. On five minutes what appeared to be a well worked try, was disallowed for a forward pass. ‘Nul point’ was a disappointment but, vitally, the Army proved what could be achieved on the flanks.
The Army attacked but made mistakes and to their credit the Navy showed resilience and a willingness to engage at close quarters. Powerful scrummaging and good hands swept the matelots into the Army ‘22’. They converted a penalty. ‘Contact-penalty’ became the theme for the night which the Navy accepted with some excellent ‘shooting’.
The Army controlled the rugby. Madigibuli, Edwards and Ditoka crossed at a canter but with only one try converted the lights stuck at 17 points—hardly safe. Importantly the heavier Navy, under pressure at quick ruck and maul, and graunched at the line-out, appeared unable to concede kickable penalties.
The third quarter was ‘Play-Army’ time with flankers Matt Bowman and Rob Burnell leading the charge deep into Blueland. With the lines-out sewn-up, swift delivery should have meant points but the speedy duo Rokoduguni and Cagilaba were kept on their wings warming their hands.
Frustration might have crept in but skipper Craig Fillier held his team together well and scrum half Owen Davies set the standard when returned to the battle sporting a broken nose.
The Navy chipped away with four penalties and whilst variously one or two red shirts languished in the sin-bin Blue shirts gained a new lease of life.
With very little time left the referee detected a Navy try. Seventeen points all.
Maybe the home side felt a measure of rough justice but it remains in Army hands to finish the job against the RAF on Sunday 2 December at Halton and retain the U23 Inter Service title.