Evans Returns to Lead From the Front

Gaz Evans captained the Royal Navy side at Esher and will be pleased with a battling performance from a number of the Navy’s stars of the future.

What a difference a week makes.  From the rain and heavy Burnaby Rd pitch of last week to a firm track at Esher allowed bot h teams to play a high tempo game where only committed defence from both teams kept the scoring down to 10 tries.  Esher deserved their 6-4 try advantage in their 36-22 win but they could never fully break away from a determined and at times skilful, Navy side.

Jack Foster, only returned from Afghanistan last week, but played the match in his usual tenacious self. What is more, as he settled in to the game, his rustiness and lack of game time gave way to an assured performance marked by some excellent decision making and good service to his fly half Josh Jones.
Jack Foster – causing problems with his strong running game.
Josh Jones took another step forward from last week and worked his attack well with some good variety and a willingness to bring his runners on to the ball.
Josh used a good mix of forwards and backs as his strike runner. Kye Beasley at hooker looks to hit up another feed from the young Navy fly half.

The first score went deservedly to Esher as their inside centre danced through a couple of wayward tackles to go under the posts.  The easy conversion made it 7 – 0 and no doubt a few of the Navy supporters were concerned by the seeming ease of the score.  However this was a much changed Navy side and with few combinations use to each other the defencive system was always going to take some time to bed in.  The first try wasn’t the first time during the evening it was breeched but the work rate of the side to cover the holes made sure that Esher were not going to get any more easy scores.

In response to the Esher score the Navy forwards soon started clearing rucks with purpose and allowing Jack and Josh to work with quicker ball. This brought its dividend before too long when Tom Davies was only stopped a metre short of the line.

With the ball quickly recycled and moved to the left Navy skipper Gaz Evans dotted down the easiest of tries.

The Esher’s response was swift, clinical and skilful.  Having made the half break they moved the ball quickly to the right and were able to put their winger on the outside of the Navy’s cover defence for their second score.  With their tails up they were again soon pressing the Navy line but for the next 15 minutes the youngsters in blue did some very quick growing up.  Their tackling became more physical and time and again they thwarted  Eshers attempts to add to their score.  With half time approaching the Navy had managed to lift the siege on their line only to concede a sucker punch of a try with the last move of the half when Esher ran the ball from deep.  19 – 5 as they went back in to the changing rooms.

Both sides made changes at half time but it was the Navy who started the bette and were soon right back in the match when centre Tichias crossed for the Navy’s (and Royal Marines) second try of the night.

The quality of the Navy’s play was clearly rattling Esher as time and again they were forced back in the tackle from the committed driving and running game from the Navy team.

Josh Jones looked to have scored the Navy’s third try when he dived over in the left hand corner following some excellent continuity from the Navy’s backs down the 5m channel. Unfortunately for Josh and his team the Ar’s flag was raised for a foot in touch.

Two further tries from Esher extended their lead to 31 – 10 before again the Navy raised their game and challenged for points.

First Ollie James got close.
then Tom Holliday got closer, before……….
Stan Mortensen went over at totally the wrong angle for this cameraman. 31 – 7

From the restart Esher responded wit ha try of their own following an excellent piece of flowing rugby that exposed the Navy’s makeshift back row lack of pace in defence.  Hardly surprising when Josh Terry, a prop, had been forced through other injuries to move back to flanker.

The Navy selectors will have noted that Josh Terry is a rising star as a prop (not a flanker)

A score of 36 – 17 flattered Esher and was not a reflection on the match and it was therefore fitting that the Navy had the last laugh with the final move of the match.

Hard driving play was held up under the posts and with the ball moved to the right the Esher defence could not cope with the blistering pace of the Maltese Falcon

Kyle Mason scored the tenth try of the night and levelled the personal RM v FAA try tally at 2 each
Usual skipper Dave Pascoe came on for some hard yakka towards the end but will have been pleased with much of the performance from his team mates.
likewise captain for the night Gaz Evans, who put in another excellent performance
However for me the man of the match performance was second row Hugo Mitchell-heggs who was strong at the tackle and carried relentlessly for the Navy all night, apart from a short interlude to have his bleeding head patched up.

However all the side can be pleased at the progress they have made since last weeks game.  It bodes well for the next match at home to Cambridge University on Wednesday 6 March.

and finally I am not sure whether John Court was praying for the game to slow down or simply keeping his hands warm. It wasn’t just the youngsters who performed well – JC, B & Sumo.

3 Responses

  1. John Walton
    | Reply

    It a shame the Royal Navy and Army played on the same evening.
    It sounds as though we missed a good game at Esher.
    Very pleased that Gaz had a good game and appears to be developing as a leader. He has the skills, intelligence, status within the squad and his time with London Welsh is beginning to show. He now needs to push on with his development.
    Looking forward to the game at Portsmouth next week. ee you there?

    • Geraint
      | Reply

      A week on Wednesday. Hope to be at match v CURFC, 6 March. G

  2. John Walton
    | Reply

    My mistake!!
    Sadly the Army play Worcester that evening and its an annual trip for us two oldies!!
    But you never know.
    See you in Dublin the following Wednesday for sure, for sure.

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