The Royal Engineers made the perfect start to their 2017/18 campaign as they went undefeated on their way to retaining the Army Corps Festival League 1 Trophy.
Army Rugby Union Corps Festival 2017
The Sappers started with a tough opening fixture against their rivals, the Gunners on the main Stadium pitch but they came away with a good win, 22-0 before defeating the REME and RLC, 26-0 and 15-0 before the break for lunch.
Following the break, the Engineers resumed against the Royal Signals taking a good win 26-3 before defeating the Infantry in a close fought match in the final group game 5-0.
Games This Season
Army Corps Festival - W
Aldershot - 13th September
Royal Engineers @ RLC - L 16-10
11th October 2017
Royal Engineers vs REME - W 19-17
Minley - 1st November 2017
Royal Engineers vs Signals - W 33-17
Minley - 6th December 2017
Royal Engineers @ Infantry - W 41-26
10th January 2018
Royal Engineers vs R Artillery - L 0-23
Minley - 7th February 2018
Army Corps Final Day
Aldershot - 28th February 2018
Corps Festival 2017
It was a solid showing by the Sappers who had plenty of new talent on display. Following a good week at their Training Camp, the Sappers built on the positive atmosphere and put in a great performance in the group stages, conceding only 3 points in their 5 matches.
The Final saw the Engineers take on the Royal Signals who had a good array of talent themselves and started well with an opening Try and conversion. The Engineers regrouped quickly though and came back with four unanswered Tries to take the Final comfortably in the end 28-7 - a fantastic finish to the day. Head Coach Nathan Young was delighted with the performance his side put in with lots of new talent putting their names forward for places for the upcoming season - exciting times ahead!
Sapperrugby would once again like to thank our generous sponsors Hesco Bastion for their fantastic support - we look forward to continuing our great partnership into 2017/18 and hopefully collect more silverware along the way!
Royal Engineers @ RLC
Army Corps League 1 - Game 1
The opening round of the 2017/18 Army Corps League 1 Season kicked off with the Royal Engineers travelling to Hullavington to take on the RLC.
The Sappers had a good showing at last months Corps Festival, beating the Royal Signals in the Final. They would look to build on that good start against the RLC.
The hosts have been progressing upwards over the past couple of seasons with a young and talented crop of players and would be no pushover in the first fixture.
It was a mild afternoon, however a strong breeze would make conditions difficult for both sides. Rain showers were also in the area although thankfully they were only passing showers.
The Home side got the game underway and would have the wind at their backs for the first forty minutes, looking to capitalise on the strong gale blowing across the pitch. The RLC secured an early turnover and immediately put the Engineers under pressure shortly after the kick off and they looked to expose an overlap on the wing, however a stray hand from Nacavamuto prevented the pass from reaching its target. The Referee blew for a penalty and gave 'Naca' a brief talking to before the RLC Scrum Half, Gareth Parry, slotted through the Penalty kick, 3-0.
The RLC were managing the conditions well and spent a good period of play inside the Engineers half. They almost doubled their lead through another penalty however the kick sailed just wide, taken by the wind. The resulting 22' restart from the Sappers gave the RLC another chance to attack and they once again created an overlap on the wing. In a very similar incident, it was once again Nacavamuto who attempted the intercept - the one handed grasp once again stopped the ball reaching its intended recipient. This time however Naca wouldn't escape without further punishment and he was shown a yellow card. The hosts kicked for the corner, took the resulting Lineout and drove toward the Sapper line. After being awarded a penalty advantage for a collapsed maul, the RLC passed the ball out and their Number 8 drove over the line for the Try, 8-0.
The Engineers were struggling to gain territory through the air, but slowly got themselves a foothold in the game as the half went on. They took advantage of their opponents handling errors and penalties and eventually got themselves inside the RLC 22'. From a scrum close to the touchline, the Sappers got the ball out to the backs quickly and a nice pop pass from the recently returned Nacavamuto unlocked the defence and the Full Back crossed the line untouched for the Try. Following the conversion, the Sappers closed the gap to 8-7, with just moments to go until half time.
The Sappers would have been more than happy to go into the break just one point down considering the difficult conditions playing into such a strong wind. With just over a minute to go however, the RLC launched one more attack and would soon extend their lead once again. After stealing a Lineout, the Sappers cleared their lines from inside their 22'. The kick held up in the wind allowing the RLC to attack once more. Following a couple of missed tackles on the Winger, the ball was shipped wide for his teammate to finish off the move in the corner, giving the RLC a 13-7 lead at half time.
The second half was to be a scrappy affair, in greasy conditions following a shower just before half time.
Despite now having the wind at their backs, the Sappers couldn't capitalise fully. An early penalty closed the margin to 13-10 but the RLC were still looking dangerous and making the most of some poor Sapper discipline.
As the second half went on, neither team was able to breakthrough the others defence. The Sappers, down by three points, had a scrum in the final minutes of the game just inside the RLC 22' in a central position. A key turnover at the base however launched a counter attack and RLC winger 'Frank' sprinted down the touchline - only an excellent covering tackle from the Sapper Fly Half saved the Try.
From the resulting Lineout, the Logistic Corps played through the phases and were awarded penalty in front of the posts and slotted through another three points to effectively put the game out of reach for the Sappers with just over a minute to go. Down by six points, the Sappers would need something special to steal the victory. The RLC received the ensuing restart cleanly and after running down the final few seconds they kicked for touch and the referee blew for full time, the hosts taking the win 16-10.
The RLC put in a good performance and made life difficult for the Engineers, however, the Sappers know they have more to come as the Season goes on and will look to rebound quickly as they now shift their focus on to the REME who visit Minley on November 1st.
Be sure to come down and support the Sappers if you're in the area.
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers vs REME
Army Corps League 1 - Game 2
The second round of the Army Rugby Corps championship saw the Royal Engineers host the REME at Minley.
The Sappers fell to defeat against the RLC in the opening round and needed to bounce back quickly to stay in contention for the Corps Championship Final in February.
The two sides have enjoyed a good rivalry over recent years, with the REME winning last years contest at Wootton Bassett. The Sappers would look to avenge that defeat and get their campaign back on track.
It was a beautiful November 1st afternoon in Minley with conditions perfect for rugby.
Both sides had a good showing of support with the two Masters teams also doing battle earlier in the day and the Senior XV would look to also put on a good showing.
The Home side got the game underway and looked lively early on, creating a few chances & testing the REME on the outside.
The early opportunities didn't materialise into points, however the Sappers kept plugging away, testing their opponents and soon had a shot at goal from a penalty at the breakdown. The kick was just wide and the visitors escaped and soon set about applying pressure themselves.
After being awarded a penalty, the REME kicked for touch and a good catch and drive saw them make progress inside the Sapper 22'. After collapsing the maul, the Sappers had another penalty awarded against them and the REME executed another good catch and drive. Just yards from the line, the Sappers managed to halt their progress however the resulting phase saw the REME Hooker dive over for the Try, 0-5 to the visitors.
Shortly after, the REME had a penalty attempt at goal however the kick was pushed wide and the Sappers looked to be off the hook. Their own attack was scuppered though and a turnover in the ruck allowed the REME to counter. After gaining good ground up the middle the ball was shipped quickly to the right and a nice pass from the REME fullback set their inside Centre free down the wing. He was tackled just short of the line however his Centre partner was on hand to finish the move with a Try in the corner. Following a good conversion the REME lead 0-12.
The Sappers needed to reply quickly and as half time approached a score of any kind would be a welcome boost. The magic spark came courtesy of the veteran Centre Nacamavuto. A trademark dummy pass and three fantastic hand offs gave him the space needed to break through the REME defence. Captain, Marcus Mercer was supporting on his inside and received the ball to speed away towards the posts to close the gap to 7-12 going into half time.
The Engineers kept the momentum going into the second half and added a quick score in the opening minutes. Naca was once again involved, receiving at the ball following a good break from Veikune. The ball then went wide to the right and the Try was scored in the corner to level the contest 12-12.
It was a closely fought game with both sides creating chances and it was soon the turn of the REME to get back in front. Following a good kick for territory by the REME Fly Half, the Sappers found themselves defending from a line out 5 metres from their Try line. Despite the Sappers securing the ball in the air, the REME managed to rip the ball free and start a driving maul themselves and after a good drive, the REME regained the lead 12-17 from a Try by Prop Darius Hamilton.
The Engineers enjoyed good periods of pressure inside the REME half following the Try however they were struggling to find the clinical finish & cross the whitewash. Winger, Petueli and Back Row Forward, Veikune were looking sharp and using their speed to create opportunities. Replacement Fly Half, James Dixon managed to cross the Try line, however the ball was held up by REME defenders. Just moments later, an excellent opportunity opened up for the Engineers on the right wing. The final pass however was unable to find its target and it looked like it may not be the Sappers day.
With under five minutes to go, the Sappers set out on another attack to try and level the game. After crossing halfway it was once again Centre, Nacamavuto, who picked up from the ruck, catching the defence off guard and offloading to the supporting Vee Veikune on the 22'. Veikune used his pace and agility to cut inside the last two defenders to score under the posts allowing for an easy conversion for Dixon, 19-17.
With just a minute left, the REME were unable to reply and the Sappers picked up their first win of the Corps Season with a dramatic late Try. It was a great effort by the team to come back from 0-12 down showing great poise and determination to keep going at the visitors and eventually scoring a Try in the closing moments. The squad has a good blend of youth and experience combining well to create opportunities and they will look to capitalise better on those chances going forward as they build up for the next fixture.
Next up for the Sappers will be the Royal Signals who are coming off the back of a good victory over the current Corps Champions, the Royal Artillery. The Sappers host the Signals at Minley on December 6th, KO1400 - Come down and cheer on the Engineers if you're in the area!
Royal Engineers vs Royal Signals
Army Corps League 1 - Game 3
The Royal Engineers' final game of 2017 saw them host the Royal Signals at Minley.
The Signals have been improving year on year and would prove a strong test to finish, especially having already claimed a win over current Corps Champions, the Royal Artillery.
After a close fought game in the previous round, the Sappers would look to carry momentum into this fixture and hopefully not leave things so late this time round to claim a victory.
The Engineers would once again have Marcus Mercer at Full Back to Skipper the side with a good mix of youth and experience throughout the squad, aiming to contain the talented back line of the Royal Signals.
Conditions were good as both teams made their way onto the pitch with little wind to speak of and overall a fairly mild afternoon for December! The away side got the game underway and after collecting the ball, the Sappers enjoyed an early spell of possession. Both sides were guilty of giving away early penalties, but it was the Signals who capitalised first. After testing the Sapper defensive line, a penalty allowed them to add the games first points from in front of the posts, 0-3 to the Signals.
The Sappers came out from the kick off with a spell of good territory. The Centre pairing of Waqa and Nacavamuto were looking good and the dangerous Petueli was threatening with his pace on the wing. After almost going over for a Try in the corner, the Sappers collected a loose ball from the resulting line out and it was Prop, Cam Mclaren, who drove over the Try line for the score, 7-3.
The Signals came straight back with another penalty. After a chip ahead, the Signals Full Back was brought down late and the visitors took the points from where the ball landed to close the gap to 7-6.
The away side were starting to build momentum, playing much of the next 10 minutes inside the Sapper half. Another penalty kick attempt was narrowly missed - bouncing off the right upright. But soon after, the Signals were threatening once again just inside the Sapper 22'. This time, the resulting penalty was slotted through the posts and the Signals retook the lead 7-9.
Some more poor discipline shortly after allowed the visitors to extend their lead, 7-12 but the Sappers looked to close out the half with a score of their own.
With just minutes to go until half time, the Sappers almost crossed the Try line for a second time. Petueli received the ball on the wing and used his pace to break into the 22 and chip ahead. He was beaten to the ball across the Try line by the covering defender but the home side had just enough time left to put in to the resulting scrum.
A great driving effort by the returning Knoxy Laqekoro, at No. 8, was just short but support was on hand and from the resulting ruck, Sapper #6 picked from the base and crossed for the Try, 12-12, going into the half.
It was a mixed bag in the first half, despite scoring two Tries, the Sappers were frustrated with the amount of penalties given away and keeping their opponents in the game - a trend that continued early in the second period.
Just moments into the second half, substitute Winger, Sam Sema, was shown a yellow card and the Sappers would be on the back foot early.
The Signals capitalised with the ensuing kick to touch. Following the Lineout, the visitors drove with the forwards for a couple of phases before passing out to the backs who made the most of the man advantage on the wing. A nice move in the midfield sucked in two defenders and the Try was finished off by the Signals Winger in the corner; 12-17.
As the Sin Bin was coming to an end, the Sappers had a scum just outside their 22' on the right wing. A simple but effective move saw the ball shipped to Full Back Mercer who drew in his man just enough before offloading to Petueli who sped down the left wing. He skipped out of a tackle attempt before holding the Signals Full Back and passing back to Mercer on his inside to finish off a nice move for the Try, 19-17.
The Engineers looked to press home their lead and ensure their opponents couldn't make their way back into the game. Both sides created opportunities as the second half went on, but it was the hosts who looked slightly more threatening.
The Sappers looked to wrap the game up and eventually pulled away in the final ten minutes with a couple of late scores to finish off their opponents. After pinning the Signals inside their 22' the Engineers piled the pressure on and capitalised on a poor clearing kick to set up an attack. It was Substitute, Sema, who eventually crossed for the score after a trademark thumping run earlier in the move - he finished off from close range after stepping his defender to dive over; 26-17.
The home side were looking comfortable and playing with more flow. They crossed the Try line once more thanks to veteran Centre Nacavamuto who finished off a nice attack to cap off a good day at the office for the home side, 33-17.
After a close, and at times frustrating, first half; the Sappers found their stride in the second 40 minutes and closed out a hard fought contest against their opponents, securing a Try bonus point in the process. They will go into the Christmas break with good momentum following their last two victories. In a league with no easy games though, the Sappers will take on the Infantry early next month and will need to win again to keep their hopes alive of reaching the Corps Final.
Sapperrugby wishes you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, we look forward to an exciting 2018. Ubique!
Royal Engineers vs Infantry
Army Corps League 1 - Game 4
The Royal Engineers' first game of 2018 saw them take on the Infantry in Aldershot in the penultimate round of the Army Corps Championship.
The Infantry have been playing their home games at the home of Army Rugby this season and the Sappers made the short trip from Minley to take on a side that have caused them problems in the past. The Engineers were looking to keep their momentum going as they try and book their place in the Corps Final - A victory here would keep them on track to reach the Final going into the final round of games next month.
Conditions were good and rather mild as both teams took to the Stadium pitch with the afternoon sun making a welcome appearance.
Marcus Mercer lead the Sappers out and the visiting side got the game underway. It was only a matter of minutes before the Engineers scored the games first points. Mercer provided the the break with excellent footwork to beat the rushing defender, he then offloaded to Full Back, Steff Wilson - making his return to the side after a Tour away. After beating the defender on the wing, Wilson passed to Petueli who used his pace to finish off the move for the Try, converted by Wilson for a 7-0 lead.
Despite going down early, the Infantry came back well and responded with a Try of their own on their first visit inside the Sapper 22. Following a penalty, the home side kicked for the corner and took the line out from five metres out. After a clean take at the middle of the line, the Infantry collected and their #7 went over for the score, 7-7.
The Sappers were soon back on the front foot and threatening to retake the lead. A good dummy and snipe from RE Scrum Half, Vata, almost resulted in a Try however he was held up just over the line after a good covering tackle. From the resulting five metre scrum however the Sappers kept the pressure on. The Engineers won another Penalty advantage before Vata tried again with a dummy pass at the breakdown. This time he managed to slip through the defence and cross over for the score from short distance, 14-7.
After a short break for an injury, the Infantry came back with a good spell and were soon knocking on the door looking to tie the game back up. A driving maul from a line out almost gave them a score, but just moments later they crossed the Try line with a good succession of pick & drives, 14-14.
Both teams were putting on a good contest and it was the Infantry who gained the initiative as half time approached with two late scores in the half. The first came following a box kick near half way by the Infantry scrum half. With plenty of space behind the Sapper defensive line, the their Winger collected the ball on the full and provided a nice finishing pass to the supporting Hooker to finish off the move under the posts.
With just moments to go before the break, the Infantry scored once more following a nice move at the line out, five metres from the Sapper Try line. After a good throw to the back of the line, the Infantry #8 collected in the air and popped the ball down to a supporting runner who broke through the middle of the line out to cross untouched giving the Infantry a 14-26 lead at half time.
The Sappers had work to do to get themselves back in the game. They started the second half well and were threatening inside the Infantry 22 - the move ended abruptly however as a pass to the wing was intercepted by the Infantry Winger. A great effort by Sapper Full Back Wilson, along with the supporting Petueli and Mercer to get back prevented another Try and the Sappers started again. Poor discipline from the Infantry gave the Engineers more opportunities and good field position however they were just lacking the finishing touch to close the gap.
Eventually the pressure resulted in a score. Following a line out five metres from the Infantry try line, the Engineers collected and drove the ball towards forward. Sapper Hooker, Withers, kept hold of the ball and drove over with the pack for the Try, 21-26. The Sappers added a Penalty kick from the boot of Wilson midway through the second half to close the gap to 24-26 and it wasn't long before they re-took the lead after the Infantry had been reduced to 14 men through a Yellow Card.
The Engineers took advantage of another Infantry penalty infringement to set themselves up inside their opponents 22. After testing the right side of the Infantry defence, they then moved the ball left to capitalise on space in the line. A couple of quick passes allowed Sapper Second Row, David Bowman to finish off nicely from close distance - handing off a defender on his way across the line, 31-26.
From the ensuing kick off, the Sappers received the ball and then box kicked up field. The Infantry failed to deal with the kick and the lose ball was chipped ahead by chasing Engineers. Sapper Winger, Petueli had a clear path infant of him as he chased the ball down inside the in-goal area and just reached it before it went dead to score a good Try, 38-26.
The Sappers looked in control having put in a great shift to comeback and take a commanding lead late in the second half. The Infantry had a couple of opportunities late on to add a score however the Engineers held them out and they slotted through a late penalty to increase their lead to 41-26 with the final kick of the game.
It was a great contest between the two sides, with both responding well early on after conceding Tries. The Infantry capitalised well on their chances in the first half to take a good lead going into the break.
The Sappers however showed great determination and effort to get themselves back into the game in the second half. They kept cool heads to close the gap and then finished clinically when it mattered to take their chances and pull out the lead themselves and take the victory.
Whilst there will be plenty to look back on from this game, the Engineers can take many positives going into their final game against old rivals; the Royal Artillery at Minley next month.
The Sappers will look to regain the Cannonball Trophy and book their place in the Corps Final, but can be sure of a tough battle against a strong Gunner side who come off the back of a good win vs REME.
Be sure to come down and support the Sappers! Ubique!
Royal Engineers vs Royal Artillery
Army Corps League 1 - Game 5
The Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery renewed their rivalry at Minley in the final regular season fixture of the 2017/18 season.
Second place in the table, and a spot in the final were up for grabs - as well as the Jones-Drake Cannonball Trophy, currently held by the Gunners.
For the Sappers a win would see them into the Final. The Gunners would need a bonus point victory to book their slot and take on the RLC who had already qualified having beaten both sides earlier in the season.
Conditions were perfect as both sides made their way onto the pitch. It was a cold but sunny afternoon in Minley and the pitch was in excellent condition. Second Row, Joe Mclean skippered the Sappers who had a good squad available - The Gunners would be their toughest challenge this season however with a plethora of Army players in their lineup.
The Gunners got off to a strong start and put the hosts under early pressure. The Engineers struggled in the scrum and the Lineout and the Artillery capitalised on mistakes and penalties to set themselves up with a series of opportunities inside the Sapper half.
The Gunners were aggressive in their plan of attack. They knew they needed a bonus point win so turned down opportunities at goal to kick for the corner and try to drive over the Try line.
To the Sappers credit they held the Gunners at bay for the first forty minutes. They didn't make life easy on themselves with poor discipline seeing two players going to the Sin Bin.
In a stalemate of a first half the Engineers were still in the contest at the break, despite being under pressure for most of the first forty minutes - The Gunners though had their tails up and were eager to get on the scoreboard early in the second.
From the second half kick off, the Gunners drove their way methodically upfield pushing the Sapper defence back towards its own Try line. After testing and stretching the Sappers defence across the pitch, the visitors eventually broke through and scored in the corner to give themselves a 0-7 lead after a good conversion by Davies on the touchline.
The Gunners were on their way and, after scoring their first, it wasn't long before they were adding a second Try. Another penalty against the Sappers allowed the Artillery to kick for the corner. A simple catch and drive lineout saw the forwards power over the line and add a second quick score, 0-12.
Things got worse for the home side as their Skipper was sent to the Sin Bin for an infringement at the ruck. It would be the Sappers third yellow card and the Gunners capitalised once again. It was another simple but effective move that saw the Artillery extend their lead. From a scrum in front of the Engineers posts, the Gunner Number 8 picked up and off loaded to Army Scrum Half, Vunivesilevu. He fixed the defender and passed to his winger who finished from close range, 0-19.
The Gunners needed just one more Try to secure their coveted bonus point. Another penalty allowed the Artillery to kick for touch and set up an attacking lineout inside the Sapper 22. After securing the ball, their forwards drove forward before releasing their backs - with their winger cutting a great line through the middle of the defence to go over for their fourth score, 0-26.
The Sappers were unable to get any kind of momentum going. A good break from Sam Sema set up a decent chance late in the game but the home side couldn't capitalise and they were left scoreless as the referee blew his whistle for full time with the Gunners taking a deserved bonus point win and securing their place in the Final against the RLC.
It was a disappointing finish for the Royal Engineers but they can take plenty of positives from the 2017/18 season which saw them start with a victory at the Corps XV Festival back in September. Several new names have stepped up to represent the Corps and there is a good depth of talent as the team look ahead and build towards next season.
We would like to say a huge thank you to our generous sponsors Hesco Bastion for their fantastic support and sponsorship of the Royal Engineers RFC. We would also like to thank everyone who has supported the team over the course of this season which has produced some fantastic rugby, showcasing the great talent in the Sapper side as well as the Army Corps Championship as a whole.
We look forward to rebuilding and coming back even stronger ready for the next challenge in 2018/19!