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The Army Men scored four tries in a third-quarter blitz to set them on the way to the Inter-Services title with a 45-21 win against the RAF.

On a glorious afternoon at Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium, Cpl Jordan Oatley’s kick-off went out on the full before his home side won the resultant scrum penalty, kicking to the corner before they were pinged themselves at the maul.

The same thing happened to the attacking side as the Army went down the other end, before a big hit from man-of-the-match Lt Frank Kelly (AGC (SPS)) sent the hosts into touch and prompted a lively early scuffle.

The Air Force came again and only a brilliant cover tackle from full-back Pte Adriu Muritoki (3 Scots) denied AS1 Kieron Prescott on the left wing.

A dazzling break from LCpl Solodrau Radianirova took him from midway inside his own 22 to the opposition half, but a long pass from Muritoki sailed into touch.

Army had a try correctly disallowed for a forward pass as Lt Al Gliksten (RA) streaked under the posts from 30 metres out, but they got their noses in front immediately after – having won the scrum penalty, they kicked to the corner before a smart line-out move sent captain Bdr Pete Austin over on the right.

Bdr Owain Davies (RA) was narrowly wide with his touchline conversion attempt, but the RAF suffered a further setback as Cpl Josh McNally was sin-binned for a breakdown infringement at the end of the first quarter.

The hosts were forced to defend manfully, yet then went in front on the half-hour mark as a speculative high kick was spilled by Davies just outside his own 22, the ball finding its way to Cpl Will Lamont to cross before Oatley added the extras.

The Army struck back just before the break, though, winning a scrum against the head before some incredible footwork from Radianirova saw him dance past a trio of would-be defenders for a wonderful score.

Davies landed the conversion for a 12-7 half-time lead, and his side made a dream start to the second period, a strong carry from LCpl Koroinivukiu Vereti taking the Red Shirts into their opponents’ 22, Gliksten spotting a gap and producing a strong hand-off to scoot under the posts.

Davies slotted the conversion, but the ebb-and-flow nature of the game saw the Air Force score next, full-back Cpl Toby Evans injecting some pace with a lovely line before his inside ball saw McNally dot down for a try added to by Oatley.

Evans, though, was almost immediately sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on which also resulted in a penalty try, and after Radianirova surged down the left, his inside ball sent Rfn Imi Qorowale (2 Rifles) sent over for a quick-fire double.

That turned into three in four minutes as from the kick-off Sgt Connor O’Reilly (RA) powered 60 metres, a brilliant off-load then sending Sgt Matt Dawson (Int Corps) next to the posts for a converted score – the Army in dreamland and 38-14 to the good.

The deluge continued as replacement Cpl Iferemi Boladau (R Sigs) showed impressive pace and power to go under the posts from just out side the 22, fellow sub Cpt Matt Smart (1 R Yorks) with the simplest of conversions.

Bolodau, however, dropped the restart, the RAF with an instant reply as McNally turned provider for Cpl Zach Taylor to sail over, Cpl Ryan Pugh with a fine touch-line kick to make it 45-21 amidst a whirlwind of action.

The Air Force continued to fight and Flt Lt Dave Manning was held up over the line with four minutes remaining, Boladau’s eventful cameo then seeing him yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.

It mattered not, though, and despite an unseemly scrap on the final whistle, the Army were worthy winners.

Words © Richard Ashton

All images – Alligin Photography © Army Rugby Union

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