The Royal Navy beat the Royal New Zealand Navy 21-18 in a thrilling second match of the 2012 Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup which keeps alive their ambition of retaining their title.
Followers of Navy Rugby will be well used to captain Dave Pascoe’s kicking exploits but in a close encounter with the Kiwis it was fullback Jon Humphrey who landed the deciding kick from just inside the Kiwi half as a tense match entered its last five minutes.
The Royal Navy had the brightest of starts and despite conceding an early penalty which the New Zealand’s Dane Edge kicked they were soon in front through tries by Dale Sleeman and Gaz Evans. Dale’s was reward of always chasing hard at kicks at goals as he collected the rebounded penalty attempt when Dave Pascoe’s strike hit the upright. Evans’ try was all the more satisfying as it game after a sustained passage of play with the Royal Navy’s continuity posing the Kiwi defence some real problems before they succumbed to the try from Gaz.
With Pascoe unable to land a second conversion the Royal Navy looked comfortable with a 12 – 3 lead however this had been cut to 15 – 10 at halftime following a New Zealand try through Greg Carter converted by Edge which Pascoe responded to with his first penalty of the match.
The second half started with another New Zealand indiscretion allowing Dave Pascoe to increase the RN’s lead with his second penalty. However like the Kiwi’s in the first half the RN were reduced to fourteen men following repeated infringements and during this time Greg Carter grabbed his second try and although Dane Edge missed the conversion he soon landed a penalty to square the match at 18 – 18 as the game entered its last quarter.
Another close encounter between these two sides had been expected and didn’t disappoint. Both sides had opportunities to score before the New Zealanders conceded a long range penalty which Humphrey calmly kicked. For the Royal New Zealand Navy more Commonwealth Cup heartache as their destiny is now in the hands of the Royal Australian Navy who will be looking to finish their Centenary season in style when they host the Royal Navy in the final match of the competition on Thursday.
For both teams congratulations must be given for another compelling game of rugby and I am sure that on the eleventh anniversary of the start of the conflict in Afghanistan thoughts were with colleagues who are not so fortunate in what continue to be turbulent times for these three Navies.