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Sappers Return to Glory – AGC Win Twice

Royal Engineers 39 pts — Royal Artillery 18

A resounding win for the Royal Engineers 38 pts — 19 returned the ‘Men from the Medway’ to the top of the Inter Corps tree on a fine afternoon in Aldershot. It was just like old times!

Heralded as a battle between the Gunner forwards and the Sapper backs, both packs chose to fight on the front foot. Territorially the Gunners created a slight advantage which was rewarded with two penalties, one a siege gun monster, from No10 Owain Davies.

Six points adrift the Sappers ‘kept calm’ and ball in hand went through the game plan to stretch the Artillery forwards from side to side. The defence ran out of tacklers during sustained and intense pressure when Maku Koroiyadi and Peceli Nacamavuto each scored excellent tries. Flyhalf James Dixon converted one.

Maku Koroiyadi Man of the Match
Maku Koroiyadi Man of the Match

The Sappers dominated the second quarter with No8 Koroiyadi leading assault after assault from the back of the set pieces. He emerged powerfully in his characteristic low crouch, hand off leading, and was very difficult to slow down, let alone halt. Such momentum sucked in the gunner close defence, setting the platform for deeper attack. Darrell Ball and a host of red and blue jersies were quickly on hand to reach for the summit. Varta went over, Dixon converted—probably game done and dusted by half time.

A twist might, even should, have turned the Gunner fortunes as the Sappers were reduced to fourteen men. The penalty from wide out failed and the Sappers went in for tea and smiles at 19 pts-6 but knowing the next half would start with a man light.

It must have been a brave man who decided ‘no change of tactics’ as the Sappers thrust wide and then punched straight down the middle. Noxy Laqekoro, on a welcome return from injury, went over with a grin as long as Queens Avenue. More of the same and centre Riola crossed. Dixon converted both. Never heard a good explanation as to why a side reduced to fourteen men score two tries but it happens so often. Sappers 33 pts—6 Gunners.

For the start of the final quarter the Gunners drew on the bench and found an ability to play more light cavalry than siege-gun warfare. Taura scored first followed by Dowding in a characteristic 10m unstoppable burst. Too late to divert the silverware but maybe the Gunners will rue their initial decision to go through, rather than around, the Sapper defences.

It was a clear case for adventurous game management coming out on top. Having said that it was the Sappers had the men to carry out such a plan and James Dixon with fourteen points layed down a strong base frm which to attack.

At seasons end of the domestic game the major spoils have been shared. Cup to the Royal Artillery and Corps to the Royal Engineers. One thing is certain the Gunners, after a few years, have once again emerged as a powerhouse in Army rugby.

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