Royal Marines RL 31:14 Parachute Regiment RL
Mel Gilmour, Kitione Kamikamika, Tom Loxam, Seti Raumakita, Adam Taylor, Richard Cadywould, Tom Marchant, Carl Gilson (C), Mark John Sharp, Kai Downey-Stevenson, Joe Long, Dave Fairbrother, Calan Toogood, John Coe, Jim Henderson, Jonny Adams, Guy Glastonbury,
Once the formalities were over it was down to business, Ref Mickey Brighton got the game underway on what was to prove an eventful evening. The early exchanges were fairly even but Ref Brightons insistence on clearing the ruck led to a penalty to the Paras and the first meaningful attack. From the restart the Paras tried to muscle over the line but the RM defence held firm however it led to the defence being bunched in midfield creating space out wide, the Paras finally noticed this and a long wide pass found the right centre who scored the try. The conversion was missed but this score spurred the Paras on and barely five minutes later they were in again. Just like their last match on home soil against the Fleet Air Arm the RM side seemed somewhat disorganised and struggling to make any headway against a tough Para’s side. No surprise then when the visitors were over again, very similar situation a break through midfield drew the Corps defence in and another long pass beat the defence this time for the No 5 to score but again the kick was missed so it was just 0-8. The home side began show signs of more attacking football after seeing more of the ball with some decent possession the pressure finally told, a probe down the right was held up but in a similar way the Paras were drawn into the ruck area and swift hands by the Corps found Dave Fairbrother to the left of the posts who was not to be stopped crossing behind the posts making Cadywould’s first shot at goal an easy one, 6:8 after 15 minutes. The next 15 minutes or so saw both sides having good attacking positions but the killer pass was just not there. RM Full back Mel Gilmour was busy both in attack and defence hauling down Paras players to save what seemed certain try’s and at the other end on two occasions nearly had his side in the lead for the first time. Both sides were guilty of blinkered play in midfield when there was lots of space out wide so despite their best efforts the scores remained 6:8 as the half drew to a close. The final action of the first half saw an excellent break by the Paras No 11 beat the RM cover and the second row looked odds on for a try but once again Gilmour came back to deny the score. It was only momentary relief though, the Paras took advantage of the disorganised RM defence to get the ball out to the goal kicking strand off who scored the try himself followed by his own conversion. Half time came with the scores at 6:14 and although they were still in the game RMRL would have to be much more organised for the second half and cut down the handling errors.
Whatever was said behind closed doors in the RM dressing room achieved the desired effect, this was a different side to the one that left the field barely 15 minutes previously. The half was only 4 minutes old when RM skipper Carl Gilson took the ball on through midfield scattering the Paras cover racing 40 metres to score under the posts, another straightforward conversion for Cadywould and suddenly the RM were back in it only two points behind. This early score rattled the Paras and five minutes later on the back of successive penalties the home side were barely 20 metres from the Paras line, this time lessons from the first half had been learnt, the Paras defence bunching in midfield gave winger Kami Kamikamica plenty of space on the side-line and an inch perfect long raking pass found the Fijian with two men to beat which he did easily, shooting past the defenders he eased the angle for Cadywould’s conversion and for the first time in the match the RM were ahead on the scoreboard, 16:14. Almost from the kick off RMRL were on the offensive again, this time on the last tackle Stand-off Cadywould slotted a grubber through which was followed up by Fairbrother who got to the ball ahead of the defence and the recovery was complete. Another good conversion by Cadywould saw RMRL stretch to 24-14. The Paras did try to come back at the Corps and got through the first line of defence but full back Gilmour was there again to break the move down but this time he was adjudged to have held the player down and left the field for ten minutes for the professional foul. Despite this numerical advantage the Paras were unable to take advantage and as the clock ran down so did their discipline conceding a succession of penalties. This continuous indiscipline was too much for Ref Brighton who gave the Paras skipper a team warning which was escalated to a sin binning a few minutes later for another holding down offense. Another penalty advanced the RM into Paras territory and as the set progressed Cadywould put through Dave Fairbrother again for his hat trick and went on to put over his fifth conversion of the night. With the game all but won stand-off Cadywould put over a neat drop goal which meant to win the match the Paras needed three converted try’s and with only 5 minutes left it was an impossible ask. Tempers frayed a little in the dying moments but the officials calmed things down to leave both sides with 13 men on the pitch at the final whistle.
A great comeback by the Corps and a great evening’s entertainment for the RM supporters and the neutrals, not so good for the Paras who looked good value at halftime for their eight point lead. The Man of Steel award was given to RM full back Mel Gilmour who was involved in everything except when he was taking his ten minute breather in the second half! Referee Mickey Brighton and his Touch judges Phil Rigby and Mark Brogan did a god job of ensuring the game was allowed to flow within the rules of the game throughout the match and were thanked for their efforts as they received trophy’s to mark the occasion.