A sell out Twickenham enjoyed a pulsating historic Army Navy Match. Though the Army were always in control they were never totally secure but held on for a deserved 29-20 victory.
It was a classic event, in lovely Spring weather and a capacity 82,000 Twickenham crowd raising the roof. With over 370 guests it was also a hugely successful day for Team Army at which sponsors, family, friends and hosts all enjoyed the thrills and spills of the match following a sumptuous reception in the suites of Rugby House. This remains Team Army’s biggest event and 2017 was a resounding success whether the appeal was the rugby or the hospitality it created a wonderful atmosphere bringing together as it did such an eclectic group of people
The match ebbed and flowed with the opening skirmishes providing no respite for either team. However it was a James Dixon penalty that opened the scoring for the Army.
A Navy response managed to push the Army back into their own half and the pressure forced the Army into mistakes. But following a TMO intervention for foul play, Gareth Rees found himself in the sin bin. The Army though reached half time having been unable to capitalise with only a solitary Dixon penalty to show for their one man advantage.
Having stretched their lead to thirteen points the remaining match was a case where the Navy would pull a score back only for the Army to regain their advantage. Skipper Ben Priddey crossed for the Navy but was immediately matched by Junior crossing for his second try. The Army held a 23 10 lead with twenty five minutes to play. The Army supporters felt it was enough for the win, the Navy supporters clung onto the hope of a last quarter comeback to match 2016.
The Army were not intending to take any chances as they looked to squeeze the life out of the match. Although the Navy applied the pressure, the Army always kept ahead with the final whistle bring down the curtain on the 100th Army Navy after a final Navy try.
It was a fair result with man of the match Junior Bulumakau easily the star. The win meant a clean sweep of all three Inter Service Championships for the Army and the Navy still looking back to 2010 for the last time they were able to defeat their fiercest foe.
A tremendous day for all those lucky enough to be there for the centenary match. A date in the diary for next year; 5 May 2018, see you all there!
Images: MOD Crown Copyright 2017
Army Team: LCpl Ricky Reeves, LSgt Matthew Dwyer, Bdr Ken Dowding, Cpl Lewis Bean, Cpl Ross Parkins, Capt Rob Lennox (C), Cpl Matt Dawson, Gnr Senitiki Nayalo, Sgt Thomas Chennell, LCpl James Dixon, Rgr Chris Leathem, Lt Will Simpson, Sig Ravai Fatiaki, Pte Junior Bulumakau, LCpl Semesa Rokoduguni Replacements: LBdr Peter Austin, Cpl Gareth Smith, Cpl Nathanael Titchard-Jones, Capt Tom Burnham, LCpl Makulusio Koroiyadi, LBdr Sailasa Vunivesilevu, Pte Jack Prasad, Bdr Owain Davies
Royal Navy Team: LA(AH) Kyle Mason, LPT Ben Priddey (C), Sgt Gareth Evans, Msn Edward Pascoe, ET Matthew Harvey, Cpl Ben Fox, Log Samuel Matavesi, Cpl David Fairbrother, AB Gareth Rees, Mne Nathan Huntley, Lt Matthew Bowden, AET Gregory Loydall, ET(WE) Eldon Myers, Mne Greg Welling, LAET Jonathon Humphrey. Replacements: Mne Harry Collins, LCpl Mark Owen, Mne Christopher Robinson, AET Scott Makepeace, Mne Dominic Taylor, CPO Dave Pascoe, AB(D) Rhys Dimmock-Williams, Mne Seta Raumakita
Man of the Match: Pte Junior Bulumakau
Army Scores: Tries: Pte Bulumakau x 2, Rgr Leathem, Kicks: Dixon 4 PK & 1 x C
Navy Scores: Tries: Priddey, Raumakita, Fairbrother, Kicks: Humphrey 1 x PK, Rees 1 x C