Army Under 23s vice-captain LCpl Chris Hubberstey (REME) was left to rue his side’s ill-discipline as they went down 44-3 at home to new Inter-Services champions the Royal Navy.
In cold and foggy conditions, the visitors used their excellent rolling maul to good effect throughout, with hooker AET Jack Wright twice touching down behind it and plenty of metres gained from the set-piece during the contest.
And LCpl Hubberstey admitted: “We felt we had a good gameplan and how to counter-act the maul, but with the amount of penalties we gave away it let them get it going and just killed us.
“We never got a grip on the game, but it all goes back to discipline which ultimately did for us.”
The Navy raced ahead early on with an ET Lucas Cann try added to by a conversion and drop goal from AET Kieran Manson having them 10-0 up at a point-a-minute.
The Army replied with a Sig Kevin van-der-Leest (R Sigs) penalty, but AET Wright’s first before the break made it 15-3 to the away side.
And they powered on after the break, AET Charlie Penrose-Toms crossing before a second from Wright extended the lead to 25-3.
There was no let-up in the final quarter either, with further tries from MNE Freddie Elliott, ET Ryan Scott and AB Charlie Davis completing a convincing success, AET Manson with two conversions to round out the scoring.
Reflecting on a tricky night, LCpl Hubberstey added: “They were very strong with some strong ball carriers and ultimately our defence let us down – they knew how to capitalise on that. It’s just one of those days.
“We had some good attacking structure during the week – credit to the coaches and the lads for the hard work they’ve put in – but it wasn’t our day.”
While the loss was disappointing to the squad, LCpl Hubberstey remained upbeat about the campaign and also paid tribute to the hearty crowd who peered through the fog at the Army Rugby Stadium.
He ended: “It was great to see the number of people who came to watch and credit to them especially in these conditions, similar to the first game at Witney which was a bit of a nightmare (with the rain).
“This is my second year in the Under 23s and we all bonded really well – it’s such a tight unit and it’s a disappointment the season has ended now.
“Hopefully a couple of the guys might get into the Senior team, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
Words © Richard Ashworth
Images – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn & Lee Crabb