An early Andy Vance try gave the Royal Navy Mariners hope but James Harris and Dean Bradley ensured that the Army Masters retained their Inter Service trophy with another dominant display and a deserved 69-22 victory.
For the opening twenty five minutes the match was nip and tuck with neither side’s defence seeming organised, as tackles were missed and gaps exploited. It made for an end to end game of rugby where the Navy’s early opening score was answered by the Army before they took the lead through a quick fired second following a quickly taken penalty. A further exchange of tries and the game was excitingly poised with the Army Masters holding a 19-12 lead.
However, that was to be the end of the Mariners fight as the Army Masters took the game by the scruff of the neck and swept in for four more tries before the break, to a single Royal Navy penalty and at half time they had a commanding 45-15 lead.
The late first half surge seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Navy side and the second half failed to live up to the standard of the first. Despite the odd flourish in attack which did result in a further consolation try for the Navy it was the Army Masters who controlled the half and the match. Four further tries took them first past the fifty-point mark before finishing the match with the 69-22 victory.
It brought another Inter Services title to the Army Masters who had been well led by their industrious flanker, James Harris. He marshalled and cajoled his pack well to ensure a plentiful supply of good ball to fly half Dean Bradley who brought his back line into the game with some excellent passing whilst keeping the industrious Navy flanker, Will Jerrold, honest with some timely breaks to show how potent he could be running in broken play.
The Army Masters have taken the Veterans game to a new level in the 2019 Championship and it is now for the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force to respond. Both the sides in blue need to improve their fitness, if they are to compete with the current Army Masters team, and also find ways to curtail their high tempo off-loading game which ensured that not only did the Masters comfortably win both their games they also scored a number of spectacular tries from rugby that highlighted a deft interplay between forwards and backs. They have thrown down a gauntlet and it will be interesting to see if either the Mariners or the Vultures are able to step forward and pick it up to meet the 2020 challenge.
Images © Army Navy Match