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Forwards Coach, Maj Sly Silvester (RAMC) says that increased focus on the breakdown, scrum and team structure was key for the Army Senior Men as they started the 2023 Inter Service Championship campaign with a 48-17 win over the Royal Air force.

If anyone in the 4,511 crowd had put any money on a 31-point winning margin at half-time they would have got good odds, because the teams had been evenly matched on the scoreboard going into the break with just two points between them.

Indeed, the RAF had got the first points after ripping into the red shirts in the opening few minutes, and the last try before half-time, too, making the score 14-12 in the red shirts’ favour as the teams headed in for their re-set.

These RAF tries had sandwiched a pair of contrasting scores for the Army. Gnr Senitiki Nayalo (RA) broke from a scrum to cross for the first, with Capt Samuel Ackers (Rifles) on hand to finish off Rfn Vereimi Qorowale’s (Rifles) outstanding break.

But after the interval the scoring was largely one-way, with the RAF not even coming close to the whitewash until Isaac Norton’s consolation try five minutes from time. Before then there were scores for Capt Stu Cross (RMAS/Yorks), Maj Will Reeve (R Gurkha Rifles) and Rfn Qorowale, with LCpl Ifereimi Boladau (R Signals) rounding things off in the final play of the game.

So what was the main message at half-time which made the difference?

“It was difficult because we knew what we needed to do, and the half-time chat that we had was about winning the breakdown, keeping the scrum tight and maintaining our structure,” Maj Silvester said. “From that we knew then that we’d be able to turn the screw on the RAF.

“The players understood that they needed to win the breakdown because that was the thing which was really impacting our game. We spoke to the skipper at half-time, we knew what we wanted to do, the scrum became our main weapon in the second half, and the forwards came together to take the RAF to pieces.”

Capt Cross paid tribute to the RAF, who had shown their character in their Round 1 draw against the Royal Navy and battled hard throughout the 80 minutes at Kingsholm.

“Fair play to the RAF, who made things difficult for us, especially in the first half,” the skipper said. “We knew they would, but we also had confidence that if we got into our rhythm and played our game that we’d come out on top in the end, which fortunately we did.

“The most encouraging thing is that when we play how we want to play it works, and in doing that we create those opportunities. The determination to play was the most important thing, and the want to play until the end.”

As far as his own try was concerned, it may be one for Capt Cross’s social media reels, because “They’re few and far between, so I’ll take them when they come!”

The red shirts may be heading to Twickenham on May 13th with a spring in their step, but there is still plenty of work to do when the squad comes together for its mini-camp and then the build-up to Army Navy itself, according to Maj Silvester.

“To be brutally honest, what we need to do is have a look at the video and straighten out the areas where we weren’t good, work on them in the next month, and hopefully we can start with a bang in the next game,” he added.

CLICK HERE for information about Army Navy at Twickenham on Saturday, May 13th.

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks

Header and featured images – Alligin Photography © Army v RAF Match