Royal Navy hopes torpedoed by Cambridge

Will Mari – Sports Reporter 19 February 2010

Rugby Union: Blues 27 Royal Navy 7

In their penultimate game of the regular season, Cambridge quickly set a dominating pace over a sluggish Royal Navy crew, with winger, Dave Riley scoring a fast try within minutes of the match opening. The Blues then missed the conversion, as they were to do throughout the chilly evening, but the Navy never recovered much in the way of momentum.

Play was mostly confined to the Navy’s half of the pitch, as the Cambridge forwards, particularly Ben Maidment, forced a continual series of penalties against the Navy.

Inside centre, Fred Burden scored Cambridge’s second try of the night at about the 20th minute, cutting through an uneven and downright leaky Navy defence, although again the conversion narrowly missed, bouncing off the left post.

The Navy did manage to regain some initiative, as possession briefly became more even, and finally moved into Cambridge territory, but the Blues’ repeated counter-drives wore them down.

“Come on, Navy, get in!” a fan cried during what become a one-sided, frosty match. But they never did.

In the 35th minute, Cambridge scored another try, rapidly followed by Maidmont’s second try of the night, the half closing with Cambridge holding a commanding 20-0 advantage.

As the second half opened, the Navy played for territory with a series of forward plays, but was hampered by its own poor passing. In the 64th minute, Cambridge showed that it was not letting up the pressure as number three Tom Harris scored a messy try after a belated rally by Navy’s defence. Number 21 Ross Broadfoot scored the Blues’ first conversion of the evening, putting Cambridge solidly in the lead – and control – for most of the second half, which was characterized by smart drives deep into the Navy’s territory.

But the Navy showed some late spunk, taking advantage of a momentary lapse in the Blues’ tight defence late in the 78th minute: Royal Marine Commando Rob Lloyd scored a fine try, assisted by Royal Marine Corporal Greg Barden, whose brilliant streak down the middle of the pitch was largely unopposed. Petty Officer David Pascoe made the conversion, putting some face-saving points on the board. Navy then rallied one final time before Cambridge resumed command in the final minutes of the match.  “I was really pleased with how the team came together,” said Jamie Gilbert, Blues secretary and forward. “Especially during the first half, we had good possession,” he said, with “good execution” throughout.

Next week, the Blues tackle the Wooden Spoon A-As for their last match of the season. Wooden Spoon A-As are an invitational touring side composed of players from around the world, touring for the charity Wooden Spoon.

Their results suggest that they’ll be no match for the Blues, especially when one considers that ‘Semper Mores Boni’ (Good behaviour always)’ is their motto.

Yet for the Spoons this match is an important part of their preparations for their upcoming match against Scotland Legends. It remains to be seen just how seriously they should be taken, as, having featured the likes of David Strettle, they could yet surprise the Light Blues.

Will Mari – Sports Reporter