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Infantry fly-half Lt Jesse Ribeiro was happy with his League Two Corps Festival champions after they beat a Barbarians team comprised of Division One sides REME and the RA in an exhibition game at Newbury.

The Infantry were left in a tricky spot after none of their remaining opponents were able to make it to Berkshire, but with some quick thinking from the tournament organisers and the willingness of opposition players, they secured a 19-0 victory against the combined side in which they had to defend for long periods of time while also butchering the chance to make the winning margin bigger late on.

Having only come together as a group on Monday and enjoyed only three training sessions, Lt Ribiero was pleased with the trip and started: “We’ve got a bunch of new guys and it was almost an open trial the past couple of days – hopefully it will work wonders for our squad depth and create competitiveness as we move through the season.

“It was good to get a decent run-out after a long day and nice for the boys after sitting around to get a competitive game of rugby.

“In the warm-up we acknowledged we hadn’t played much together, so we talked a lot about our defence and communication, and it came together for us – while it wasn’t fully there in attack, in defence everyone knew what they were doing.”

A feature of the Infantry game was their physicality on both sides of the ball, which Lt Ribeiro admitted works both ways for him as captain.

He said: “The ball-carriers make my life as a No. 10 a lot easier both inside and outside, but we just need to work on our execution as we move forward, but I’m sure that will come with a few more games and training sessions.

“(Defensively) the ref was in my ear the whole game which was understandable, and the tackle laws have tripped us up quite a bit – a significant portion of our squad are Fijian and they’ve been tackling in the chest their whole lives, so it’s going to be difficult to innately change that although we’ll continue to work on it.”

Having slipped out of League One of the Corps Championship after last season, Lt Ribeiro is eager to make a swift return to the topflight while also hailing the competition and the chance to build stronger bonds.

He concluded: “The squad depth wasn’t there last year because everyone was busy, and we couldn’t fulfil a number of games.

“We had to drop down, but we’re coming into this season trying to make a statement.

“(As Units) We play each other regularly – the Yorks guys, the Fusiliers, and so it’s good to see each other and play on the same side for once, rather than tackling each other!”

Infantry are due to start their League Two campaign at RAC on Wednesday, September 27, the other game in the division pitting R Sigs against AAC.

Words © Richard Ashton

All images – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn

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