Brothers complete Hat Trick
By Keith Humpleby
In horrendous weather the RNRL side beat the RAN Tridents to secure a 3 from 3 series win
The Royal Navy had secured the Armistice Challenge Cup on Wednesday night winning the second of three fixtures so it was tempting to write off this third round as a ‘dead rubber’ however this was far from the case. The pride of the Royal Australian Navy was at stake as was the determination of the home side to secure a whitewash in the series so it was defiantly game on. With three matches in seven days inevitably there were changes to both sides with the RN loosing playmaker Darren Bamford to injury whilst others were called back for duty, the same was true for the RAN as coach Shane Bullock shuffled his squad around. As game time approached the weather looked to be closing in and as the game progressed frequent torrential downpours hit the ground but in fairness to both sides the handling was amazingly good throughout.
The Australian Navy Tridents came out strongly as they had done in the first match and in a similar fashion hit the front early on with a try close to the posts, Tom Anderson touching down a loose ball to open the scoring. Anderson himself then made the conversion so it was 0:6 to the Tridents 8 minutes into the game. More big hits followed as the RAN tried to push home their advantage but it was the RN who scored next, from deep in his own half winger Luke Cooper set off on a mazy run through the scattered Tridents defence but was pulled down however from the play the ball Sean Houghton eventually took the final pass on the RN right touching down out wide 4:6. Once again it was back to back try’s for the RN, the kick off was gathered on the 30 metre line by Jack Basher who took on the opposing defence to set up the attacking platform, a couple of tackles later Sean Casey burst through the RAN defence to touchdown and in turn converted his own try 8:4 and the RN were never behind again. The final score of the half was a bit fortunate maybe but still needed scoring, a grubber though by case to the RN left was nudged on by the boot of Gavin Duffy who gathered up the ball to score another RN try, Casey on hand to add the extras 16:6 and that was half time.
The second half began in torrential rain but both sides stuck to their task and although scoreless there was much to entertain the crowd of hardy RL followers braving the elements, big hits great line breaks and the odd ‘confrontation’ all added t the game. The second half deadlock was broken with another spectacular try for the home side, once again Jack Basher was quickest to react to a spilt ball making 30 metres before being hauled down. Bashers run had broken the RAN defensive line and a quick play the ball found Houghton in midfield, the full back set off on an arcing run to evade the Aussie Cover sliding over right of the posts, Casey once again on hand to slot over the extras, 22:6. By now the rain was almost continuous and the amount of water coming down could not be overestimated again credit to both sides and the officials led by Alan Billington from Widnes for making a game of it. Despite their best efforts including more of a kicking game than previously the Tridents could not find another gap, the RN just seemed to have that extra yard which was shown in the next score. Good approach play across the face of the Aussie line saw the ball head out towards the wing but stand off Lennox Green had other ideas, straightening up he flat footed the RAN cover to score, this time the kick was wide so it remained 26:6. The final score of the game was another score from deep, Luke Cooper once again beating his opposite number out wide dropped a beautiful inside pass to centre Gav Duffy who had the beating of the Tridents cover touching down under the posts 30:6. Then an emotional bit of RNRL history, in his last game after 13 years with RN League and Union Silivenusi Buinimasi was given the ball for the conversion. The big Fijian easily slotted the ball over to huge applause across the ground. After some tense moments throughout the game things got a bit testy shortly before full time but Billington and his officials calmed things down whilst keeping everyone on the field and the rest of the game passed without incident. The final whistle sounded and that was it, probably the first time in the history of Services RL has a single service has won all three games to take a series and against a strong powerful Aussie side it felt even better.
For the record man of the match for the RN was Tu Roko Kurusassa with Hayden L'Estrange picking up the award for the Tridents.
Both teams joined together at HMS Nelson to enjoy an end of tour meal in the best spirit of service teams to reflect on a great series whilst preparing to mark the Armistice Centenary on Sunday the 11th November.
RNRL: -Sean Houghton, Luke Cooper, Silivenusi Buinimasi, Gavin Duffy, Tu Roko Kurusassa, Lennox Green, Sean Casey, Connor Gilbey, Danny Heaton, James Parry, Ben Taylor (C), Danny Johnson, Jack Basher. Reps: John Clay, Matt Holland, Steve Riley, Josh Tora
RANRL:- Tom Anderson, Sean Edens, Benny Turuva, Dylan Riebe, Erol Williams, Joel Dawe, Jacob Spurr-Romanov (vc), Phil Samuelu, Billy O’Grady, Keryn Welch, Cameron Cornell Matt Fleming, Dan Harris (C) Reps: Hayden L’Estrange, Matt Pericic, Andrew Hammill, Noah Tearoiti, Hayden Wood.