Rugby union: Jersey pride intact after Navy display

- Advertisement -

Try as they might, the Navy could not break them down and instead, for the first ten minutes, were pegged right back in their own half as Jersey’s pack took the game to them.As Jersey coach Dai Burton said afterwards: ‘We began tentatively, but after the first scrum we were aggressive, which was pleasing to see.

I’d told the boys that for 80 per cent of the match we’d be tackling and for long periods they couldn’t break us down.

They deserved two of their tries, but we played well, and if I was to nominate my players of the match, they’d be John Allo and Jon Brennan.’Those two weren’t the only heroes on a day when the Navy won the first half before Jersey seized the initiative for most of the second.Richie Griffiths, making a welcome return at centre, was tremendously strong in the tackle while full-back Mark White played his best game of the season, both in attack and defence.If Jersey play with such passion in their remaining league games, they will be unstoppable, although they went behind in the first two minutes when a lack of concentration allowed the Navy’s man-of-the -match, No 10 Tim Southall, to float through before passing to full-back Lee Colgate who, in turn, put in winger Gareth Fear for the first of his two tries.Southall, who only recently joined the Navy having previously played at Newcastle Falcons, duly converted, and without his ability to see gaps that none of the 600-plus spectators could see, the final score would have been a great deal closer.As it was, after Jersey’s No 10, Phil Walker, missed one penalty and then scored another in the 13th minute, Southall turned on the gas and virtually from the restart collected and shimmied his way under the posts.

He duly converted his own try.Two minutes later the Navy nearly scored again, when they had a three on one advantage on the left but somehow passed the ball forward.Southall, though, was in no mood to be stopped in the 25th minute when again he saw half a gap, darted through one last, flailing tackle, and scored near the posts.

The conversion was a formality.With Jersey trailing 21-3, most of the crowd feared for them in the second half, when the Navy’s superior fitness could have opened up the floodgates However, that was never to happen.Instead, after Jersey’s main line-out jumper, Andy Allan, was taken off the field by stretcher in the 39th minute with a suspected broken ankle, the referee blew for half-time.Would the Navy score as quickly in the second half as they had done in the first? – No, for all of the first 30 minutes Jersey pinned them back, forcing the visiting side to concede penalty after penalty.Perhaps if the Navy had moved the ball out wide, they could have made gaps and scored, but all eight in Jersey’s pack tackled, drove, and took on each of their opposite numbers in such a way that the crowd actually spoke of Jersey scoring a try.In the 64th minute they nearly did, too, when a loose kick to the right by the Navy’s left winger, Josh Drauninui, was caught by replacement winger Hugh Bond on the other side of the pitch allowing him to storm to the line with two Navy players trying desperately to close him down.With another yard’s start, or with a better pass to the man outside him, there would have been a definite score.So it was left to the pack to score their only try of the match, seven minutes later, when they drove 15 yards down the right, allowing scrum-half Arnou Helmholt-Kneisel to pop the ball up to hooker Wayne Andrieux to go over.

Replacement stand-off Darren Toudic hit the post with an ambitious long range conversion attempt, but Jersey had proved the best team for the time played, and even when they conceded another two tries late on – the first when Jersey spilled the ball to the Navy’s replacement threequarter, James Hearsey, to run 65 yards to touch down, the second when Fear scored after Southall had sucked in all of the defence – Jersey were playing excellent rugby, and Burton was right to be pleased.Afterwards the Navy’s team manager, WO Soapy Watson, said: ‘Jersey’s strength was up front, and we should have moved the ball wide.

But this was a good game for us.

Our main failing was in allowing the Jersey forwards back in the game.

In the end, our fitness told in the last ten minutes.’The Navy players are fit – they are given a training programme they have to keep to from day one of the season if they are to be considered for the game against first the RAF, then the Army – and as well as club games, they play 15 times a year for the Services.Last year they lost to the Army at Twickenham.

But Soapy Watson put the game into perspective when he said: ‘At the moment we have a settled side.

We couldn’t pick anything like the team we wanted last year.

Why? – Because there was a war on.’Jersey: M Nobes, W Andrieux, J Brennan, P Woodcock, D McAllister (M Collins), J Allo, A Allan (J Harrison), A Helmholt-Kneisel, P Walker (D Toudic), M Le Mottee (H Bond), R Griffiths, D Carswell, G Jeffreys, M White (S Mee).Royal Navy: N Bartlett, J Laity, J Court, G Cavanagh, M Cormack, W Blackett, W Pilkington, J Doney, W John, T Southall, G Fear, J Caruana, M Slater, J Drauninui, L Colgate.

All subs used: J Geraty, M Roberts, F Pearson, M Longhorn, G Evans, C Davies, J Hearsey.Ref: Ray Hall (Hampshire)Before the start of the match there was a minute’s silence for JRFC under-18 player Mark Jowett, who died last week.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.