Grit, Graft and Eventually Glory

You should always be wary when the Irish give you a warm welcome before a rugby match.

Monkstown Football Club was the venue for the first of the Navy’s cup matches this season.  The history of this twelve year fixture is one of close hard fought battles.  Last year at Burnaby Rd the Navy won comfortably, the only time the fixture has been won by either side by more than a single score.  Monkstown saw that normal service was resumed.

The Navy elected to play in to a stiff wind in the first half but it wasn’t long before Dale Sleeman was running hard lines in to the heart of the Irish defence.

However the bright start was short lived and it wasn’t long before Navy errors allowed the Irish to get some possession which they used inventively.  Half breaks could not be capitalised upon though partly due to the Navy working hard on their scramble defence.  With two long range penalties pushed wide the match remained scoreless in the first fifteen minutes.

A penalty from skipper Dave Pascoe opening the scoring and seemed to calm the Navy’s nerves which in turn saw them reduce their error count.
From the restart they were soon on the front foot through the diving play of Kyle Mason
and Seti Raumakita amongst others.
A five metre line up set up some close driving play towards the Irish goal line but on this occasion Ben Priddey was unable to cross the line. Eventually the ball was held up in In Goal and from the resulting scrum, Navy Number 8, Ian Cooper broke against the grain to score the game’s first try. Pascoe couldn’t make the conversion so the Navy had an eight point lead.

Did the Navy relax or did the Irish up their game?  Probably a bit of both.  What was certain was that for the next few minutes the Irish Defence Force gave the Navy defence a real examination.  Just as it looked as if their were going to hold out and lift the siege Rory McCann, the Irish Number 8 crossed for a deserved score which was well converted by flyhalf Behan.

Spurred in to action Navy flanker Dom Taylor found respite from the prodigious amount of tackling he was doing to instigate an attack from deep.
Hooker Ben Priddey was on hand to continue the move.
Before setting winger Ollie James free to score in the corner. Pascoe again missed the conversion but the half time score was 13 – 7 to the Navy. The second half they were no doubt looking forward to playing with the wind on their backs.


The start of the half saw Jon Marlin looking lively in attack from fullback. However the tide soon turned and a sustained passage of attacking play saw him make a number of last ditch tackles to keep the Irish Defence Force out.
If their backs weren’t breaking the line then the Irish forwards were battering the defence from close range and Marsh Cormack, along with the rest of the Navy pack were having to work hard in defence. However their defence was steadfast and gradually became closer to the level of physical intensity that is now expected from the Navy in defence. With more bite they were able to force the Irsih back from the goal line and despite conceding another Behan penalty could be well satisfied with the intensity of their defence over a twenty minute period.


From defence, came attack. Ian Cooper was again powerful running from the base of the scrum and in open play.
and was well supported by B Buinimasi who came off the bench and made a good impact with some strong runs.
Despite their pressure they were unable to score their third try. Eventually it was left to captain Dave Pascoe, who had cajoled, scolded and marshalled the team well, to kick a second penalty with the last kick of the match to give the Navy a deserved 16-10 win.

The game had been another robust and keenly contested affair between two sides who were determined to give their best for the cause.  Overall the Navy deserved their win but the Irish made them fight every inch of the way.  But for a tap tackle here, a lunging try saving tackle there; they may well have breeched the Navy defence and sneaked a win.  It was not to be and once again, eleven times in twelve matches, the game was won by less than a score.


After the match keen Navy Rugby follower John Walton was on hand to present Navy man of the match Dom Taylor with his now customary bottle of Irish Whiskey. Dom had grafted for most of the match with but a brief interlude to have his head glued by the Navy’s medical team. With ball in hand, many important tackles and a few vital turnovers he earned his bottle of the hard stuff, the hard way.






2 Responses

  1. John Walton
    | Reply

    A good well balanced report which certainly reflects the game that I watched.
    Good imagery particularly the last one!!

    • Geraint
      | Reply

      It is always good to be able to photograph in daylight. Makes life so much easier. See you at the Inter Commands under the lights once more.

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