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Saturday 4th May 2024


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Match Report | RAF Vultures 0-24 Army Masters

The Army Masters finished the Over-35 Inter Service Championship with a flourish at Kingsholm Stadium, overcoming the RAF Vultures.

For the first half-hour the action followed the same patterns as those seen at both Devonport and Richmond in Rounds 1 and 2.

The teams sized each other up like two experienced heavyweights, testing each other with a series of powerful jabs but not quite finding an early knockout blow.

Matthew Tibbatts making two powerful charges for the RAF, and Pauliasi Taura and Joe Brown twice combining down the right wing for the Army.

Still, neither team could turn position into points, meaning that as the half-hour approached the contest was still scoreless.

It was going to take a combination of something a bit special and a spot of luck to trouble the scoreboard operators, and that was exactly what the Masters did in the 28th minute.

Jotame Nalewabau made a defence-bursting run through the middle. The Red Shirts maintained possession to have the RAF scrambling, and Taura ignored the lurking Brown to roll over the whitewash in the right corner.

This try sparked the Masters into life. Nalewabau was at it again almost immediately, but this time the RAF scramble was good, winning the ball back for Phill Thomas to clear.

Anything the forwards could do, so could the backs, centre Nicky Lloyd hitting a short line to bounce a defender off five metres out and crash over by the uprights. Chris Harris nailed the extras for a 12-0 lead, and there was more to come before the break.

Harris kicked a penalty to the corner, and the forwards showed the power of momentum by sucking in the RAF rearguard for Sam Richardson to dive over from close range.

Trailing 0-19 at the break, the Vultures started with intent in the second half. Lee Queeley floated a lovely ball out to Dan Greener, and the pressure which followed yielded a yellow card for Army full back, Kameli Vuadreu.

However the Army showed in Richmond their character and resoluteness on their own line, and they did so again here, eventually getting possession to send Ifereimi Vukinavanua away for a trademark run up the left wing.

Ben Fulton followed this up with a tackle on Vultures’ fly half, Thomas, to win a lineout in the RAF 22, and Brown came within half a metre of driving over from a maul.

At the other end there was a break from left wing, James Challenger, which got the RAF onto the front foot, and Tibbatts made another charge through a sea of bodies, only to have the ball stripped as he crossed the line.

The seal on the win came five minutes from time, and while it was made by the pack with a powerful drive it was finished off by a back who came in to add to the numbers, Fulton capping a Player of the Match performance by coming up with the ball.

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