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MOBBS Memorials Match 2012


Northampton Saints XV 27pts—Army 25 pts

A new look Army XV narrowly lost to a Northampton Saints XV 27pts—25 in the reborn Mobbs Memorial Match at Franklin’s Gardens on 20 March.The crowd of 3500 applauded the willingness of both teams to launch attacks from almost any quarter on the park.

At 20pts—11 adrift with fifteen minutes remaining Coach Andy Sanger cleared the Army bench. The Reds staged an exhilarating comeback to gain a 25pts—20 lead only for the Saints to score and land a last minute conversion from far out. “We are building towards Twickenham” said senior coach Sanger “and it is important to ring the changes on the evidence. That has told me quite a lot about horses for courses and we are all wiser for tonight’s great experience”.

In the first ten minutes the sheer intensity and pace of the Saints play had the Army on the back foot—a good test for the defence which held strongly at the cost of a single try. Ceri Cummings slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit. With secure ‘own-ball’ No8 Ifereimi Boladau drove and drove off the back. ‘Bola’ is a bull of a man and difficult to halt. As the Army turned the screw the opening confidence of the Saints ebbed sufficiently for the Army momentarily to camp on the Saints line.

Man for man pressure in the line-out forced a mistake for scrum half Tom Chennell to pounce for a half time lead of 8pts –3.

Certainly the presence of fly half Jack Prasad, who has nine full caps for Fiji, was a major factor in bringing both wings into play. He was well chaperoned by the Saints but nevertheless brought time and space which was exploited by Gerhard Wessells and Gavin Ferguson in the centre. Both centres proved capable of forcing a passage through a tight defence and made ample ground down the middle.Vitally Mark Lee and Maccu Koroiyadi were tuned in, flying in close support and ready to expand the attack.

A succession of incisive breaks and quick rucking forced the Saints to stay alert and for large chunks the match remained on a knife edge. “THEN”………—how often does it have to be said. A Yellow card is a gamechanger and you cannot defend against a penalty.

The Army played 20 minutes of the second half with only 14 players on the park against a pro-outfit that, as sure as God made little green apples, would capitalize on mistakes. Inside two minutes the Saints scored two tries (17pts—8) simply because they used their man advantage.

The Army has found two attacking wingers in Sam Speight and Samesa Rokodunguni. Both have raw speed and are elusive runners. Roko, who is not afraid to run the angles, is a brick wall tackler. Speight, who has worked hard in the ‘A’ XV is hard to hold, powerfully built with the pace changes that bypass would-be tacklers. The Sanger bench changes brought on Peceli Nacamavuto and Dave Duffus at scrum half. Duffus is something of a revelation and he combined powerfully with ‘Naca’ before launching himself under the posts (20pts—18). Roko ran at tiring legs to land in almost the same spot as Duffus for a 20pts—25 lead.

The Saints drew level far out and agonisingly a calm 18 year old Will Hooley slotted the conversion. Ecstasy to agony in two minutes.

So where are we ? The answer is ‘on track’ for Twickenham on 28 April. The Sanger Selection is pretty much out in the open with a few tricky questions to answer via the April Training Camp in Portugal and a match against the PORTUGAL national XV.

At the conclusion of the Mobbs Memorial Match Sanger said “ That was a tremendous effort. It was disappointing to lose but we know why and everyone made a contribution to this very important match. There were some exceptional performances. Boladau and Rokoduguni were outstanding but Tom Chennell at scrum half was a revelation in the way he sought to attack. Mind you he had to come up trumps because Dave Duffus is a second revelation and both scored good tries on the night”.

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