By One Eyed Jack
May 3 2008
Just in case anyone was interested in how today's proceedings went at HQ - including the impact of both Josh Drauniniu and Chris Budgen in the blue and red respectively. After the recent dominance by the Army in this traditional annual match it was perhaps the best chance that the Royal Navy had of lifting the trophy in 7 years.
Army v Navy
(The Babcock Trophy)
Twickenham, Saturday, 03 May 2008
The Navy kick off from right to left on a warm and sunny afternoon at HQ for the annual Babcock Trophy match between the Army and the Navy. The Army return the ball through the boot straight to Matt Parker who runs the ball back allowing Exeter Chief’s Josh Drauniniu an early chance with the ball in hand followed by a chip and chase but the Army defence forces him into touch short of the try line in a fast paced start by the Navy.
The Army force the Navy back into their own half from a 22 restart although it is again the Navy that have the ball in hand and they attack the Army through the midfield. The move breaks down with the first flare up of the afternoon followed by the first scrum. The Navy scrum dominates a usually powerful Army unit and the Army are forced to salvage something from poor possession deep in their own half.
Continued Navy pressure sees good work through the midfield with Bristol’s Greg Barden off-loading well out of the tackle. The ball is turned over and the Navy encroach offside gifting a penalty chance for the Army to open the scoring. Fly Half Rob Sweeney misses the conversion attempt from wide on the right and the scoreboard remains empty on 7 minutes.
The Navy again have the ball in hand after clever play from the restart they kick deep into the Army half for territory before winning the line out. Navy debutant fullback Wayne Duggan hits the line well at pace forcing the Army to defend well in their own half before Josh Drauniniu is unlucky not to hold a pass. Once again the Navy look to disrupt the set piece putting the recognisable Army front row of Lewis, Kemble and Budgen under clear pressure but today’s referee David Rose awards the Army a penalty.
The Army have their first real chance with the ball in hand and attack the Navy half. The Navy pull down a maul and a penalty is kicked to the corner for another attacking opportunity. Barden is once again up quick in defence supported by Parker and Dave Pascoe forcing turnovers winning possession back for the Navy. Another penalty sees a secure touch deep in Army territory once again but the resulting line out is not straight gifting possession back to the Army.
The Army struggle to clear their third of the field as they kick for territory, although Drauniniu struggles to secure the catch and Army pressure forces the Navy to scramble the ball clear. The Army get a chance again with the ball in hand forcing play around the fringes with Northampton’s Exeter bound kiwi prop Chris Budgen and Fijian number eight Joe Kava bullocking their way into the Navy half before they release their backs. Another unforced error gifts possession back to the Navy.
Barden and Parker again look to create space, supported by hooker Jan Laity in open play, as again they force the Army to defend deep. Drauniniu looks to attack the Army line and does well to keep the ball alive as the ball is spun from wide to the left and back to the right through the hands. Again, Duggan hits the line at pace from full back but some solid tackling in the Army midfield force another knock on and possession is conceeded.
Again the navy dominates the set piece scrummage, unlike their lineout, and this time the Army are penalised when Budgen brings the scrum down. Pascoe opts for a long range kick at posts and converts from wide out for the first points of the afternoon. 0-3 as the Navy takes a deserved lead after 23 minutes.
The restart sees the introduction of Gareth Evans in place of Kyle Mason into the Navy front row as a blood replacement initially as the Army have a rare attacking opportunity. Army wing Malakai Magnus is just short of the line when he is bundled into touch. The Navy take the restart and Pascoe is allowed to clear his lines and make the Army play the ball out of their own half once again. They begin to create some telling phases of play with some great work by Leeds Carnegie centre Apollo Satala and Newbury’s Mal Roberts joining the line from full back.
Eventually the Navy are penalised as their solid defence becomes stretched and a penalty is awarded 10 metres wide out on the right. The Army kick into the corner in an attempt to drive over the Navy line. Budgen drives but is held up just short and the Navy are again penalised. This time the Army opt for a scrum.
The Army drive toward the line but the scrum breaks up as the Navy disrupt it. Navy open side flanker Andy Dennis is penalised for kicking the ball out of the side when the ball was not available and is shown a yellow card on 30 minutes. Another penalty to the Army near the Navy line.
Again they scrum looking to put pressure on the seven Navy forwards. Indecision by Kava at the base of the Army scrum allows Pascoe and Parker to cause problems but the ball is recycled and gathered up by Budgen who drives low for the line and gets the first try of the afternoon. Sweeney misses the simple conversion but the Army have the lead. 5-3 in favour of the Army on 34 minutes.
The Army attack straight from the restart catching the Navy asleep as the Army’s captain Mark Lee combines well with the Army’s strong Fijian contingent who work well together stripping the Navy defence, with Satala staying strong on his feet and offloading what looked like a forward pass to second row Darrell Ball to go over for another try wide out. Sweeney is again unsuccessful with the kick but the Army now lead 10-3 after 36 minutes of play.
This time the Navy regroup successfully from the restart with fly half Rob Lloyd clearing his lines forcing the Army into their own half. Parker picks up from the base of a scrum getting the Navy moving forward just as they had at the start of the game. Drauniniu again keeps the ball alive and offloads to Barden before the Army bring the move to an end illegally and Pascoe has another penalty attempt at the posts. His kick is successful and the Navy pick up another crucial three points on the stroke of half time. It is the Navy with the majority of the territory and possession but the Army who have the points with a slender lead of 10-6.
The second half gets underway and immediately the Navy look to pick up as they started by forcing the Army to play the ball from deep in their own half. With the ball in hand the Army look to run the ball back until the Navy are penalised and Mal Roberts is able to kick for the corner deep into Navy territory. The resulting line out is driven toward the Navy line and Melvyn Lewis is the man in possession of the ball at the back and crosses the line for the third try of the afternoon. Roberts takes over the kicking duties from Sweeney and converts from wide out on the right to make the score 17-6 on 43 minutes.
The Navy secure the restart and Parker combines well with fellow back row Will Pilkington and scrum half Pascoe to release Jamie Caruana who is able to penetrate the Army midfield before desperate tackling holds the move up. The Navy retain possession and again attack the Army line. Lloyd kicks cross field into the arms of the advancing Drauniniu who does well to keep the ball alive. The ball goes through the hands of the attacking back line but is held up just short by some solid Army tackling.
Parker goes close to scoring as the Army are penalised. The Navy opt for the kick to the corner but again fail to win their line out and Army skipper Lee fields the ball in space and puts boot to ball. The Navy now have to clear their lines and do so when Army full back Roberts carries the ball back into his 22 before clearing for the line out inline to where it was kicked out. Again, the Navy lineout does not function and the Army come away with possession with another powerful run by Kava and support from Gareth Slade-Jones their lively scrum half. Another fracas breaks out and referee Rose seeks advice from his touch judge. The Army are awarded a penalty with Navy replacement prop/hooker Evans harshly yellow carded on 55 minutes for alleged punching.
The Army secure line out ball and set another drive towards the Navy line. Budgen again goes close with his drive but the Navy defence holds up strong and the move comes to an end. Maltese international forward Mason returns to the field in the front row and immediately disrupts the Army scrum forcing turnover ball. Parker, Pilkington and Pascoe again combine well in an attempt to clear the Navy lines.
The Army now look more comfortable with the ball in hand and keep the ball alive as they run back from their own half. Strong tackling by the Navy keep the Army out but Navy second row Marsh Cormack is unable to stay on his feet and is penalised. The Army kick again for the corner and play off the line out and attack through Satala and Roberts in the midfield. The momentum now seems to have changed in the Army’s favour and the play is in the Navy half for long periods.
A fantastic kick by Pascoe finds touch five metres out from the Army line forcing the Army to clear from behind their goal line. The Navy line out which has not performed well all afternoon sees the Army turn over possession once again. Satala and wing Peceli Navamavuto combine well and attack the Navy line through direct running. The ball is quickly recycled and Kava goes close but Navy full back Duggan puts in an important tackle on the line to keep the powerful number eight out.
Play is held up by the traditional intruder onto the pitch wearing nothing more than what he was blessed with at birth. Eventually the stewards manage to remove the offender and play is resumed with an attacking scrum to the Army. Once again the Navy defence remain solid and force a turnover and the ball is cleared to the halfway line as the match enters the final ten minutes.
Again the Army regroups to attack the Navy line with the forwards doing the hard work before Slade-Jones spins a long pass out wide. It goes through the hands to Satala who effectively ends the game from a Navy perspective with a well worked score. Roberts narrowly misses with his conversion attempt from the wide right. The score is 22-6 in the Army’s favour after 77 minutes.
The Navy continue to play expansive rugby with the ball going through the hands and Drauniniu is afforded some space as he looks to break free. He does well to keep the ball alive and offloads to Barden in support. Again, good work from the tireless Navy back row continues the attack as Drauniniu gets the ball in hand again looking impressive going forward. The Army defence is now proving to be strong and some big tackles by Ben Hughes, Ball and Lee keep the Navy out.
The Navy manage to keep the ball alive and go close before quick recycling of the ball allows Pascoe to switch play and the impressive Duggan crosses for a deserved Navy try into stoppage time. Pascoe’s conversion attempt drifts agonisingly wide as David Rose brings a close to the game.
The final score 22-11 as the Army retain the Babcock trophy for the seventh successive occasion.