The Army U23s faced another stern test as they prepare for the 2021 Inter Service Championship in November against a combined Infantry team in Aldershot yesterday evening.
The Infantry are in fine form with impressive performances dominating the ARU Community 7s competitions during the summer months which has put them in good standing leading into the Community and Corps 15s season. They started the match in a typically lively fashion with some excellent interchange play between their back line giving them an early 0-10 lead. The Army U23s were a little slow out of the blocks and were scrambling in defence, they were rallying well until a third Infantry try saw them 0-15 down heading into the changing rooms for half time.
Images – Army Rugby Union © K Fowke
The break allowed the U23s to re-group and they started the second half a lot brighter and composed. The boot of Fly-Half and Skipper for the match Spr Johnson, RE is proving to be very dependable as he slotted three penalties to get the Reds ticking over on the score board and closing the gap on their opponents lead 9-15.
The Army played a lot more of a controlled game in the second half and were rewarded with greater territory and possession than they had seen in the first. Some good set pieces and phases from the forward pack lead to a beautiful cross field kick well gathered on the wing to score in the corner. With the conversion unsuccessful the teams were separated by one a point on the scoreboard, 14-15, and all to play for.
The Infantry responded almost immediately with a further try of their own but the young Reds were not done yet, they remained calm and worked through the phases to release the winger, ears pinned back with the try line in his sights but unfortunately brought down into touch just short. As the final seconds ticked away on the referees watch the U23s will probably see this as a result that got away from them, the Infantry taking a narrow 14-20 victory.
A second half resurgence saw a spirited comeback from Head Coach, Gareth Slade-Jones’s team, it was not quite enough on this occasion however there are plenty of positives to take away as they head into the next phase of their preparations for the Inter Services v Melksham RFC next Wednesday 13th October 2021, KO 1900hrs at Melksham RFC.