Royal Navy 13 Royal Air Force 6
Photo: RFU Archive
Ian Cooper emerged from the wind and rain to clinch a last-minute victory for the Royal Navy over the Royal Air Force. In the shadow of HMS Victory history and form went out the window. As the two packs lunged, parried and drove while the three quarters found it nigh on impossible to establish the sort of rhythm required to play rugby.
Despite the drawbacks the tempo was high and the contacts hard. Navy No. 8 Gaz Evans led his pack down the middle of the park, Marsh Cormack and Ben Priddey were invariably on hand to take a pass but somehow the conditions thwarted much cohesive play.
Royal Navy skipper Dave Pascoe opened the scoring on 20 minutes with a well struck penalty that powered its way through the murk. Thoughts that this might be a ‘settler’ for the much fancied Matelots were dispelled when, after a period of sustained ‘ball in hand’ attack the RAF decided, successfully, to go for goal.
Photo: RFU Archive
Air Force scrum half Coghlan was playing an assured game behind a pack that was making good ground and it was somewhat against the run of play that Pascoe converted a second penalty for a half time score of 6-3.
After the interval both teams tried to bombard their way to success. The high ball in the swirl was effective in parts but Air Force full back James Lack was literally having a ‘stormer’. On any other day he would have found space but in these conditions his guile and speed hardly counted full value. Nevertheless he got the Airman’s pack surging forward and only great Navy tackling kept them at bay.
The Navy produced a glimmer of what they were about when after a second Air Force penalty made the score 6-all, they ploughed up the centre to the shadow of the Air Force posts. Ian Cooper exploded out of the watery shadows and Pascoe again slotted the conversion.
The Royal Navy move on to meet the Army at Twickenham Stadium, on Saturday, April 28, with tickets for the forces showpiece available now via RFU.com.