Sappers Dig Deep

Royal Engineers 28pts REME 10

THE Sappers deservedly regained the Inter Corps Trophy at Aldershot on 26 March with a sterling performance against an REME side that tackled ferociously and was always in touch until the last quarter.

It was an exciting final with many sub-plots: the front row, the back row, half back and centre. It ended with the Sapper back row claiming the glory, with Maku Koroiyadi scoring a fine drive-through try, Ledua Jope winning the ‘carry count’ and Darrell Ball lifting the silverware for the fifth time in seven years.

Consistency has been the Sappers watch word for most of this century. They opened after 5 mins with wing Sammie Cima touching down. Converted by fly half James Dixon—the kick became a definitive statement for the afternoon. Dixon amassed 13 points justifying the old adage that tries win applause, the boot wins games. Twickenham beckons.

Ball was and is the enigma. Few can leave such an indelible mark anywhere in the back 5 at this level. His game at No7 was a masterpiece of carry, commitment and clatter. He took the game to the REME pack and was a pain in their side throughout.

Behind a pack, largely on its heels, the REM E and Army scrum half Tom Chennell scrapped to make the best of a difficult afternoon. His service to Casey Shaw was quick and accurate but sadly, onwards, they might as well have been firing into the butts. In contrast the Sappers fielded two Army caps in the backs—Gerhard Wessels and Baks Bakosa both of whom looked dangerous.

At half time the score was 10pts -7 but the writing, albeit faint, was on the wall.

As happens these days the man with the whistle played a part–dangerously— but this time without terminal consequences. At one stage the Sappers had almost half their squad chatting to the coaching team. With two yellow cards counting down, Wessels moved into the No9 slot for a very credible performance.

At Arms length - Varta attacks
At Arms length – Varta attacks

Amazingly, despite push becoming a huge heave led by ‘Turkish’ Titchard- Jones and Jamie Laing, the REME were unable to take advantage of the referee’s perspicuity. The Sappers stepped up the tackle rate and filled any possible until the miscreants found their way back to the park.

Jope Carries
Jope Carries

The Sappers finished with intensity, Koroiyadi and scrum half Varta crossing the line.

The Trophies were presented by ARU Vice President Lt General Sir Mark Mans. Maku Koroiyadi came away with the Player of the Match Award—highly deserved but Ball, Jope and Dixon were excellent and must have been in contention.

Darrell Ball draws the flak
Darrell Ball draws the flak

For those who thought Inter Corps was a bit of a nicety—this was their answer. Hard, skilful and fought out in the best traditions of Army rugby at the end of a highly competitive competition.

Wessels at No9
Wessels at No9

Well done the Sappers for re-asserting their claim to be The Best of the Best.

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