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UK Armed Forces sit top of their International Defence Rugby Cup pool going into the final round of matches this weekend, following two wins in contrasting fashion this week.

Last Saturday UKAF showed variety, pace and cohesion in their seven-try, 43-14 opening day success against Tonga. But on Wednesday they had to demonstrate grit and character to come back from a 14-3 half-time deficit to Georgia to score two tries in the second half and record a 24-21 victory.

In all 14 Army players have been in the match day squads during the past few days as the coaches have rotated their resources.

A win over Spain – who have a combined points deficit of -131 from their losses to the same opponents – will put UKAF into the Championship semi-finals and into contention for the overall title.

Georgia could also put themselves into the Championship with a win over Tonga. The east Europeans put in a typical game plan based around the strongest of set pieces, driving over a lineout for their first try and then using a similar platform to create space for their backs for the second.

But after the break UKAF’s pack gave as good as they had got in the first 40 minutes, powering over from a lineout of their own. The second try was a long-range counter-attack, and Bdr Owain Davies (RA) put UKAF out of reach from the tee, making Georgia’s late driven try a consolation.

“We probably didn’t expect them to be as strong as they were,” commented replacement prop, the Navy’s Ben Watson. “We’d had a really good warm-up, but as soon as the whistle went they showed they were up for this game.

“It took the first 40 minutes for us to get into the game, but made some changes in the second half, turned it around, and matched their aggression from the first half. Then we did what it took to get the scoreboard ticking over.”

Elsewhere, Pool A is in the control of the French, who had comfortable wins over Japan and Australia and face a winless Netherlands in round three. But Pool C could be the group which provides the remaining two semi-finalists in the form of Fiji and New Zealand, with the former in pole position thanks to their 34-33 round one win over the Kiwis.

Sunday’s game between UKAF and Spain kicks off at 1430hrs BST, with live coverage on the Forces TV YouTube channel.

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks

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