Despite having to do pre match preps in the torrential rain the weather cleared for the start of the Womens game and indeed stayed dry throughout the afternoon for the Men’s match as well.
The Wrenegades fixture was played over 4x15 quarters with the 24 or so players being rotated to ensure maximum game time which proved a great format for both players and spectators. The Wests took the lead after 5 minutes with a try for powerful forward Jess Bryan breaking the Blues defence and touching down under the posts making it a straight forward conversion for Sam Alderson. A second try in the first period for the Wests which was converted brilliantly from the touchline, again by Alderson, had the Wests well on top at 12:00. However, the Blues had begun to get to the pace of the game and were rewarded almost at the whistle with a try for Jess Shaw with a good conversion by Sarah Jenkins 12:6 at the break. The Maroons were out of the blocks first in the 2nd Quarter, skipper Alderson touching down to the right of the posts and with her own conversion the lead was now 12 points. This second quarter was probably the best showing by the Maroons as far as scoring was concerned, a brace of trys one for Olivia Critchley and another for Jess Bryan with another Alderson conversion saw the Maroons 28:6 up at the break. Critchley stretched the Wests lead early in the third quarter with a well worked try out on the left seeing them ahead by some 26 points. The Blues of the Easts were not going to give up though and after a spell of solid defence they scored their second try with what was probably the try of the day. Taking the Ball in her own half Michelle Matterson stepped the Wests defence and with the cover losing the race to the line Matterson touched down after a 60 mtr sprint, Sarah Jenkins converted to make it 32:12. This sparked a flurry of points as the sides swapped scores through to full time. Wests skipper Alderson touched down again but could not convert 36:12, almost immediately the Blues struck back and with another Jenkins conversion they had narrowed the gap to 36:18. Jess Bryan turned provider for her sides last score of the game putting Lauren Beale through to score under the posts and with Sam Aldersons conversion the Wests completed their scoring to lead 42:18. Last word did go to the Blues with another score for Michelle Matterson going over under the posts and with another 2 pointer for Sarah Jenkins Ref Dennis Nowell blew for full time with the score at 42:24. Players of the match were nominated by opposing coaches and were presented to Jess Bryan for the Wests and Michelle Matterson for the Easts. A great effort by all involved to pull this game together under the guidance of Head Coach Jim Bowen. The individual team Coaches Yvonne Mealy (Wests) and Emma Ochiltree (Easts) prepared their teams brilliantly given the minimum time together ahead of the match and was a great show for the Inaugural Womens Origin.
So the Upper Lawns of HMS Excellent may not be the Headingley of the south but that did not stop the Men from putting on another classic Origin match, full of incident, physicality, determination and loads of skill on show as the players strove to see their team home as well as hoping to catch the Coaches eye for a starting place in Septembers Inter Services series. The Wests came into the match looking to complete a hat trick of wins over the Blues who were equally determined to prevent this happening.
The game opened with the Wests having the better of possession and territory early on but they could not find a way through the resolute Blues defence, the game remaining scoreless until the 21st minute. The Easts had got themselves into the game after withstanding a lot of pressure and scored the first points of the game. 2nd Row Marley Carroll gathering a loose ball from a grubber to touchdown to the right of the posts Callum Simpson converting 6:0. A second try for the Easts soon after scored by skipper Jack Basher out on the left moved his side into a 10:00 lead as half time approached. The Wests struck back though before the break Chris Rees-Lloyd crossing under the posts for hooker Mason Tyler-Holland to add the extras 10:6 at half time. As in the first half the Maroons came out strongest for the half and this time hit the Blues after only 4 minutes, Sean Houghton touching down and Tyler-Holland converting and they were ahead forte first time in the match 10-12. Two more scores for the Wests seemed to set them on their way to the hat trick, first up Paul Saberton crossed the line out wide but the experienced winger had the sense to go round under the posts for an easy conversion for Tyler-Holland 10-18. Houghton secured his second of the day gathering up a loose ball to crash over, no conversion so it was 10:22. The Blues of course were not going to throw in the towel and great play from the restart saw Marley Carrol in for his second , Simpson converted 16:22. This was building to be a classic end to another Classic Origin match, the Blues levelled the scores whilst the Maroons were down to 12 men and with the clock running down who was going to hold the nerve and take the win. The Blues dug deep and although a cheeky one pointer attempt was blocked they went again this time out on the far right wing where Fijian Tu Roko Kurusassa finished of well 26:22. The last word went to Blues winger Luke Cooper, fresh from winning the Presidents Cup with UKAF he secured the Origin title for the Blues late on in the game for a 32:22 win.
The days officials were provided by UKAFRL and thanks to James Hartley and his team for their efforts as we all know without Officials there will not be a game. A couple more unsung heroes who deserve our thanks were the Physios, Mark Povey and Heidi Oliver who patched up and made running repairs throughout the afternoon always ensuring the correct treatment was given for the players safety.
Man Of The match awards went to Wests hooker Mason Tyler-Holland and to Easts 2nd Row Danny Johnson presented by representatives from our sponsors, QinetiQ, Forces Mutual, Fujitsu and ESS.
RNRL Secretary Dave Potts received his Chairman’s award presented by Cdre Paul Carroll for his efforts on behalf of the Association throughout 2018 and for putting together the Origin day for this year Origin 2019
RNRL is grateful to HMS Excellent for allowing us to use their facilities for the day and hopefully those who stopped off on their way home enjoyed what they saw!
Updated 19:09 - 13 Jun 2019 by Keith Humpleby