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New Inter-Services Champions Royal Navy Under 23s are an “outstanding team” according to Army Head Ccoach Capt Gareth Slade-Jones (RAPTC).

On a tough night in Aldershot, the Army were well beaten by a dominant visiting side who took a second-minute lead through an ET Lucas Cann try and never looked back.

AET Kieran Manson followed his conversion with a drop goal before the hosts got on the board with a Sig Kevin van-der-Leest (R Sigs) penalty.

However, that was as good as it got for the Army as AET Jack Wright crashed over at the back of a surging maul – a feature of the Navy’s powerful performance – to make it 15-3 at the interval.

And further second-half scores from AET Wright, AET Charlie Penrose-Toms, MNE Freddie Elliott, ET Ryan Scott and AB Charlie Davis, added to by a couple of AET Manson conversions, helped the Navy claim the silverware in style.

Capt Slade-Jones revealed: “It was difficult. The early try caught us off guard a little bit and then a couple of quick injuries we picked up meant momentum seemed to move away from us quickly.

“They had good strength in the pack, were well coached and we didn’t have an answer.

“They were outstanding. They played in little pockets and got the rub of the green in the second half as the game got away from us, but that’s not to take away from the fact they were a really good team.”

For the second time in the tournament, the Army played in extreme weather conditions, with the fog so thick in the second half it was impossible to see across the pitch.

But Capt Slade-Jones said: “The weather is the same for both teams, but in both games I thought everybody was there to play rugby, which is good.”

While this campaign saw the Army lose possession of the title following the Navy defeat and the 8-7 reverse at the RAF, the Head Coach believes there are still plenty of positives to take.

He concluded: “We’ve got the nucleus of a team with 17 of the boys still Under 22 and about eight of them Under 19, so we’ve got to build on that for next year.

“The old cliché is you’re not worried about the result, it’s about building a piece of legacy here for the Under 23s and making them a viable product to go into the senior team, but also to help them as good human beings – they’re still young in their career, so it’s our job to develop them as people and rugby players.”

Words © Richard Ashworth

Images – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn & Lee Crabb