Hard Lessons but Potential On Show

Tom Davies leads his Navy U23s to a 27-21 defeat in a topsy turvy match at Burnaby Road against Cambridge University LX. RAF are next up in the first round of the 2012 Inter Service U23 Championship

Jack Dannagh finally gets some decent ball as the half draws to a close.

Burnaby Road bathed in Autumnal sunshine was a perfect setting for the Navy U23s final match before the Inter Services.  However yet again they were slow out of the blocks and through over eagerness or ill discipline kept losing territory through needless penalties.  With twenty five minutes gone the visiting students from Cambridge University deservedly scored in the right hand corner for a 5-0 lead.  It was only through the Navy’s tenacity in defence that it had taken so long.

The score seemed to act like a light switch.  Gone was the poor decision making, the ill discipline at the contact, the unforced errors.  It was replaced by purpose, intensity, work rate in support, passing before and out of contact.  The team transformed.  Jack Dannagh at scrum half started getting ball on the front foot.  Forwards started carrying and punching holes and at long last the skipper Tom Davies could cut some angles in mid field.

Aaron Lewis gets the Navy on the scoreboard with a successful penalty
Jon Henty under a pile of bodies scores the first try

Pressure brought its rewards.  A penalty for offside converted by Aaron Lewis narrowed the score to 5-3.  From the kick off Josh Terry punched down the centre.  Good clearing from the forwards and the twelve channel was attacked on the right before the ball was brought back left and Jon Henty scored in the corner.  Aaron again made the conversion and the Navy were in front.  The lead was extended before half time when further pressure brought a second offside decision which Lewis converted for a 13 – 5 half time lead.

A ginger Navy Number 8! Jon Henty had a solid game including the well taken try. Not a Bob Armstrong yet but there is always time
Matt Horton – a penalty and a conversion in the second half.

Halftime expectation was short lived in the second half and the Navy once more sat back and invited Cambridge to attack.  Again solid defence kept the students at bay but eventually possession and continuity told and they scored close enough to the posts to make the conversion a formality.   Was this to be the spur that the Navy needed as per the first half.  Briefly the answer seemed to be yes as they controlled the ball long enough to win a penalty in kickable range for fullback Matt Horton to score.

However a late tackle by skipper Tom Davies reduced the home team to 14 men and it was during the sin bin period that the students upped their intensity and the Navy did not match them.  The two scores in this period gave the students a commanding lead and despite Kye Beasley scoring late in the game, again converted by Matt it was too little too late.

A driving maul from an attacking lineout allowed the Navy U23s to finish the match strongly
Mark Sharp, packing down alongside prop Josh Terry did his technical job well in his first game at hooker.

Three matches, three losses but also significant improvement in each game.  Availability, continuity are never in abundant supply for the U23 coaching staff.  However they can be pleased with what they are achieving.  Sunday saw Mark Sharp play his first ever game at hooker.  Aggressive in the tackle, strong with the ball in hand and ok in the technical aspects of the position.  One to watch for the future.

A week on Friday the RAF U23s are the visitors at Burnaby Road.  The Navy will have some more players back from injury which will help Tom’s job on the field.  It is then just a question of which Navy takes to the field.  The team before the interval were a credit to the shirt and showed a tantalising glimpse of the promise they possess.  They just need to ensure they deliver.  We should all remain optomistic.

Mark Sharp, promising debut and one of the reason to feel optimistic.

4 Responses

  1. Wendy Pellow
    | Reply

    A very very proud mother would like to thank you for the updates as I am unable to attend matches in person.

  2. Geraint
    | Reply

    It is my pleasure. I hope the words and images help to convey the matches and the occasions. The images from today’s game have now been posted on the Navy U23 page on the site.

  3. John Walton
    | Reply

    I was surprised just how far the team has come since Chichester.
    Whilst there is still plenty of room for improvement they are leaning quickly and the planned camp before the IS games will be hugely beneficial.
    I thought Mark Sharp played very well and was certainly in contention for man of the match in my view even when he did try and kick the ball – one thing at a time lad!!!
    Looking forward to the RN v RAF.

    • Geraint
      | Reply

      John, You know my views on forwards kicking!

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