Brothers Secure Historic Series win
By Keith Humpleby
Another top performance saw RNRL win by 36:4 and in doing so won the Armistice Challenge Cup
Both sides showed changes from the first match notably forte RN skipper Ben Taylor and powerful 2ndRow Jamie Birdsall were absent but Coach Steve Lockton had plenty in depth to cover, naming full back Sean Houghton as skipper. On the opposite side influential skipper Dan Harris was there again to lead his side after a stand out performance in the first match.
Strong winds and heavy rain had eased for kick off and credit to both sides for the quality of the handling throughout despite slippery conditions.
Ref James Jones got the game underway with the RAN needing the win to save the series whilst the home side were determined to emulate their professional counterparts by wrapping up a series win against Southern Hemisphere opposition in two matches. The marker was put down after barely 3 minutes, an RN move to their right was switched over to left finding centre Gavin Duffy almost unmarked who touched down for the opening score, 4:0. The game then settled down for the next 20 minutes or so as the Tridents tried to get on terms but the RN defence was up to the challenge and withstood the onslaught with chances of their own but not able to get the touchdown. After weathering the storm the RN began to push the RAN defence out wide as they had done in the first match and were rewarded with a try for full back Houghton who scored out wide on the RN right. Darren Bamford put over a terrific conversion from the wing and the home side were up 10:0. The next few minutes were notable for a succession of penalty’s conceded by the home side gifting RAN possession and territory however they were unable to capitalize and it was the RN who had the last word in the half. The Tridents defence was again stretched on their right and RN prop Jonny Griffiths used his strength to get over left of the posts. 14:00 to the RN and that was it for the first half.
Into the second half and a few minutes of attritional stuff with the RAN camped in the RN half trying to get the score. After a lot of possession and the RN facing back to back sets the RAN finally broke the deadlock to the left of the posts, L’Estrange crossing for his side, the conversion was wide so it remained 14:4. With that score the Tridents may have thought they were in with a chance however from the restart a seemingly innocuous ball along the floor was fumbled by the RAN and the RN had the scrum 30 metres for the opposition line. A clinical finish saw skipper Houghton in for his second of the night, Bamford again on target cancelled out the RAN score with interest so it was 20:4 after 50 minutes. Ref Jones and his officials were called on to sort out some minor scuffles as the game got a bit scrappy and one such incident led to both teams being reduced to 12 men for ten minutes, whilst not good for the respective coaches the big crowd were enjoying the game immensely! The next RN score was a cracker, from deep in his own half Marika Tuinabunawa took the ball on to start a great move that ended some 60 metres later with fellow Fijian Roko Kurusassa touching down to the right of the posts, a real crowd pleaser! 24:4. The Tridents did everything they could to increase their score but to no avail despite the RN being given a team warning for a succession of penalty’s. A knock on by the RAN gave the RN possession and another long range attack culminated in centre Buinimasi dropping a perfect short pass to Nathan Lee who beat the defence from 15 metres out to score another for the home side. Sean Casey had now taken on kicking duties and slotted over the 2 pointer, 30:4 into the last few minutes. To round off another top performance the RN scored almost on the full time whistle. Darren Bamford once again joined the attack on the left and once clear and through the defence scooted round behind the posts to give Casey a straightforward enough conversion to round off a series winning performance by the RN.
RNRL: -Sean Houghton (C), Luke Cooper, Silivenusi Buinimasi, Gavin Duffy, Tu Roko Kurusassa, Darren Bamford, Sean Casey, Jonny Griffiths, Danny Heaton, James Parry, Louis McKenna, Nathan Lee, Jack Basher. Reps: Danny Johnson, Marika Tuinabunawa, Lennox Green, Matt Holland
RANRL:- Dave Catterall, Hayden Wood, Cameron Cornell, Thomas Anderson, Peter Taylor, Benny Turuva, Jacob Spurr-Romanov (vc), Carl Keighran, Michael Riggio, Keryn Welch, Matthew Fleming, Matthew Pericic, Dan Harris (C) Reps: Phillip Samuelu, Hayden L’Estrange, Noah Tearoiti, Dylan Riebe