The Royal Engineers got their 2014/15 Season off to a great start as they regained the Army Corps Competition Trophy, going undefeated throughout the day and defeating the RLC in the Final.
The Sappers impressed on their start to the new Corps Season
The Sappers started against the REME and had a good pool of players to select from throughout the day, with several newcomers making a good impression in front of new Head Coach Mark Reed. The Engineers made a good start to their opening game and soon found the tryline with Scrum Half Vata Aporosa going over from close range from the back of a driving scrum. Following Half Time, the Sappers doubled their lead through winger 'Sixes' Raiola who finished off a nice move to score in the corner, taking the game 10-0.
Next up it was the RLC who provided another stern test and took an early lead after being awarded a penalty in front of the posts. The drop kick was successful and they lead 3-0. The Sappers came right back at their opponents but a lose ball was collected by Army player Sammy Railoka and he stormed downfield to extend the lead to 8-0. The Sappers came back in the second half and put good pressure on their opponents and it was Aporosa who once again found the Try line to close the gap. As the game wound down the Sappers looked to steal the win and after much pressure they eventually crossed after a good push at the scrum from close range, from where the ball was shipped to Sam Sema on the wing who finished the job, handing the Sappers a 10-8 win.
It was the Signals next up after the lunch break in another closey fought contest. The Engineers took the lead following a nice break downfield. After being awarded a penalty they shifted the ball quickly to the far side of the pitch and Sam Sema crossed in the corner to give the Sappers a 5-0 lead. The Signals replied however just before the break, stretching the Sapper defence to score in the corner and things were tied up 5-5 at half time. The Sappers made a good start to the second half and quickly re-gained the lead. After a good build up the ball was moved quickly to the wing and they made good progress upfield and scored in the corner and went on to take the victory 10-5.
In the re-arranged fixture from the morning, the Engineeers took on their old rivals the Royal Artillery. It was another tough match up however the Sappers took the victory 10-0 with Tries from Sema and Birdy. The Engineers now moved on the the Final where they would take on the RLC, last years victors.
The Sappers came from behind to beat the RLC in their earlier game, it was to be a different affair though in the Final as the Sappers took an early lead moving the ball well from a lineout near halfway. They shipped the ball wide and broke upfield for Birdy to score in the corner and take a 5-0 lead. They added another soon after, this time going underbeath the posts to make for an easy conversion and the Sappers took a 12-0 lead that they wouldn't relinquish and they finished off a great day at the office to regain the Corps Competition Trophy.
Royal Engineers vs REME
Minley 8th October 2014
The Royal Engineers hosted their rivals the REME in the opening fixture of the 2014/15 Corps Championship, in a repeat of last Seasons Final.
The two sides have plenty of history but both had an array of new faces who would get their first taste of this competitive rivalry.
The Sappers new home, Minley, provided the venue for the matchup and, as is now a custom for a Engineer vs REME match up, rain was forcast during the afternoon which would make for difficult handling conditions for both sides.
Earlier, the Sapper Vets lost to the REME Vets so the Senior XV would look for revenge as the match got underway.
The Sappers fielded a number of new players, but also mixed in a veteran presence with the likes of Eastley and Clifford anchoring the front row with Vic Reeve. They also had experience on the bench with Nacamavuto and Windle ready to come on when called. Al Whittaker Captained the side for the first time after impressing at the Corps Competition in September.
The worst of the rain had passed by the time the two sides took to the field and the Engineers got proceedings underway. The visitors put on the pressure early and had a good spell inside the Sapper half and after working the ball well inside the Sapper half they were awarded a penalty which was slotted through the posts to give the visitors an early 3-0 lead.
The Sappers looked to respond however they were struggling with the greasy conditions especially when trying to work the ball wide through the backs. They were also having difficulty in the scrum, often losing out on posession of the ball when in good territory. The REME then broke away on another attack and a chip downfield caused problems for the defence and the ball was touched down in goal setting the REME up with a 5 metre scrum. After a good drive from the scrum they offloaded to the short side and found space to cross the tryline to give them an 8-0 lead.
The Sappers were struggling on both sides of the ball and the penalty count was beginning to build up against them allowing the REME breathing space and chances to incrrease their lead. They did just that following another penalty at the lineout and the ball was slotted through the posts to give the REME an 11-0 lead.
The home side were up against it, but came back at their opponents and with their best spell of the game so far. The forwards were setting up a good platform, with the likes of Jope getting in the mix and they showed good speed and handling in the backs. Crucially though they lost posession at key moments allowing the REME to clear their lines and force the Sappers to start again. The Engineers eventually earned a penalty but the kick was just wide and the visitors escaped without damage to their lead.
Not to be discouraged, the Sappers kept going at their opponents but again a combination of poor handling in the wet conditions and lack of discipline let the home side down at crucial times and they couldn't make any inroads into the REME lead and the visitors took their 11-0 lead into halftime.
You don't become as successful as the Sappers have been over recent years without having a fighting mentality and they would need every bit of fight and effort they had left to come back at their opponents.
They replied straight away with a good spell spreading the ball wide, using good hands to stretch the defence. They made good yards upfield and Railoa almost broke free on the wing, but was brought down short of the tryline and the ball was turned over. The resulting clearing kick however was charged down out of the in goal area and the Sappers were given another opportunity with a 5 metre attacking scrum.
After a penalty they moved the ball quickly and Railoa received the ball from just a few yards out to cross the Tryline to close the gap to 7-23.
The REME had an opportunity to add another penalty soon after but the kick was wide and the Sappers escaped and set about trying to make further in-roads into their opponents lead. The leadership and presence of Peceli Nacamavuto in midfield helped add a spark and the backs started to come alive with good pace and hands. After a good attack they almost added another score but the ball was held up over the line. From the resulting scrum however they pounded the ball up the middle of the REME defence and then shipped the ball to the wing with 'Naca' delivering a superb pass for Railoa to go in for the score, which was converted to make the score 14-23 to the REME.
The belief was there for the Sappers, they just needed to execute and continue to build their momentum. After collecting a loose ball from a REME lineout the Engineers quickly moved the ball to the wing and Nacamavuto once again showed great power and flair to break the line and off load to the supporting Lordi Waqa. After recycling the ball quickly the ball was shipped to the opposite wing where Railoa almost scored his hat-trick. The ball was knocked free but substitue Garry Windle was on hand and he collected and touched down for the Sappers third Try to take them to within two points, 21-23, following another good conversion by James Dixon.
The home side were sensing an improbable comeback and could have added another try, but unfortunatley a pass to the wing was just knocked on and the opportunity went by. A penalty from the resulting scrum however was cooly slotted through by Dixon and the Engineers took the lead for the first time in the match 24-23.
On the ensuing kick off however the Sappers conceeded yet another penalty infront of the posts and the REME Fly Half converted to give them the lead straight back and with only moments left the homeside were unable to rally one final time and the referee shortly after blew for full time with the REME taking the win 26-24.
The Sappers will be disappointed with the outcome and will wonder 'What If' after not capitalising on their chances, especially in the first half. The high penalty count will also be a concern, however they can take heart from a great fightback in the second half which almost gave them an unlikely win.
The Engineers now turn their attention to the their next opponents, the Royal Logistic Corps. The RLC also lost their first fixture against the Infantry and so it will be a high stakes game for both teams as they look to get back on track. Be sure to come along and support the Sappers!
Reported By J. Fowke
The REME got the second half underway and almost immediately were awarded a penalty allowing them to kick for the corner and put more pressure on their opponents. At the resulting lineout the Sappers found themselves a man down after Second Row Joe Uluikedekede was sent to the Sin Bin for pulling a REME player down at the lineout. The visitors took advantage of the extra man upfront and from a scrum they drove forward and broke away at the line to score their second Try which was converted for an 18-0 lead.
Things were not looking good for the Engineers and they got worse shortly after as the REME added yet another Try. They used the scrum once more to dominate and set up their platform to attack from close range. After being stopped just short of the posts, the ball was shipped wide and their winger used the space to cross in the corner and give the REME a seemingly unassailable lead 23-0.
Royal Engineers vs RLC
Minley 5th November 2014
The Royal Engineer's second game of the Army Corps Championship saw them host the Royal Logistic Corps in Minley. Both sides were coming off the back of a loss in the previous round and would need to rebound quickly in this must win game between the two old rivals. The Sappers fielded a solid team with a good mix of youth and experience. Vic Reeve anchored the front row along with Mark Eastley and Koroiyadi and Al Whittaker Captained the side from the back row that also included the returning Chris Lowrie. In the backs, Wessels made his return from injury stepping in at Full Back, whilst James Dixon started at 10 and had plenty of firepower to distribute to including Railoa and Sema.
The Sapper Vets side defeated an RLC Vets team earlier in the morning and the hosts were hoping the Senior XV would follow suit as they kicked off at 1400 on a dry but overcast afternoon in Minley.
Dixon got the game underway for the home side and after a promising start the Sappers had an early chance to take the lead through a penalty which was slotted through by the Fly Half just outside the 22'.
The hosts continued with their good start to the game with the back line showing glimpses of their attacking threat. They made their way into the RLC half and from a scrum they set up their first proper attack of the game.
The Engineers showed great hands as they spread the RLC defence across the pitch and back again, creating space for Sema to make good yardage. The forwards also made an impact with the likes of Lowrie and Uluikedekede carrying well.
After some good phases it was Scrum Half Vata who picked up from the ruck and snuck through the defence for the game's opening Try, giving the Sappers an 8-0 lead.
The RLC responded well and came back with a good spell of posession themselves. After a succession of penalties they were soon in kicking distance as the referee blew up once more against the Sappers. Luckily for the hosts, the kick was wide left but the Logistic Corps came straight back at their opponents just moments later.
Following a free kick against the Sappers for feeding at the scrum the RLC put together some good phases of rugby and put the Engineers defence under pressure. The home side managed to disrupt the attack however following a loose pass and soon after turned the ball over and cleared their lines. The Sappers soon set about adding another score and made good in-roads into the RLC half. A combination of quick hands and powerful carries helped set up space on the wing for Railoa to collect the ball just inside the Logistic Corps half and use his blistering speed to outrun the chasing tackler and go over for the Try. Following the conversion the Sappers lead 15-0.
The home side were looking good on the attack however their discipline around the pitch let themselves down, with the referee blowing up for several penalties and free kicks against the Engineers giving the Logistic Corps a chance to get back in the game.
The RLC looked to add something to the scoreboard as the first half came to a close however after a disrupted lineout, Chris Lowrie pounced on a loose ball and the Sappers cleared their lines and came back at their opponents with a swift attacking move, with the two centres; Waqa and Sema combining well to break through the covering defence. Sema finished off the move with a good step inside a defender and crossed the line for the Sappers third Try of the day giving them a 22-0 lead as the referee blew for half time.
The visitors got the second half under way and were given an early chance to set up with good field position following another penalty against the Sappers. The Engineers defence kept up its excellent work rate however and capitalised on RLC mistakes to turn the ball over and clear their lines. The penalty count was beginning to climb for the hosts, struggling particularly at the scrum as the referee free kicked them on several occassions for feeding, as well as awarding penalties against the front row.
The Logistic Corps were enjoying a lengthy spell deep inside the Sapper half however were unable to unlock the Engineer defence and it wasn't long before the hosts came back and punished them for their missed opportunities. From a scrum, the referee penalised the RLC for collapsing the front row and after Lowrie was prevented from taking a quick tap the referee marched the RLC back a further 10 metres giving Dixon a chance to add a further three points.
His kick was short by a couple of metres, however the kick chase was good and after a pass back into the touch-in-goal area the RLC tried to clear their lines only for Railoa to charge the kick down and then chase the ball to touch down just before the dead ball line and score with a great individual effort. 29-0.
After a lengthy spell of defending, the Sappers re-ignited their attack and were soon adding to their lead. After a good catch and drive at a lineout on the RLC 22 the Sappers made ground through the middle with good carries from Koroiyadi and Uluikedekede.
The hosts showed more good handling shipping the ball wide to the backs and after some good phases it was Eli Mailulu who picked up from the base of a ruck and ran straight through the defence to score in the corner and extend the lead further, 34-0.
As the game entered its latter stages the Sappers added one final try. After collecting a lineout just inside the RLC half they shipped the ball to midfield where the away side almost intercepted a pass. The ball was knocked on though and the Sappers managed to collect it and run straight in for the try underneath the posts, capping off a good victory for the home side.
The RLC finished strongly and showed good character despite the scoreline and enjoyed a good spell deep in the Sapper half. They were unable to make the breakthrough however as the Engineer defence worked tirelessly and held their opponents at bay as the referee blew for full time giving the Sappers a 41-0 victory.
The Sappers responded well following thier loss in the previous fixture and will take positives from their excellent defence throughout the game and good movement in attack to score some great Tries. They will be disappointed by the high penalty count however and will look to address the issue for their next game against the Infantry which will once again be held at Minley in their final match before the New Year. Be sure to come and support the Sappers on December 3rd!
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers vs Infantry
Minley 3rd December 2014
The Royal Engineers hosted their final game of the year, and of the 2014-15 Season, as they welcomed the Infantry to Minley.
The visitors have proved to be a tough test over the past few seasons and the Sappers knew they would need a good performance to take a winning record into 2015.
The hosts had a good selection of regulars in their squad including Vic Reeve anchoring the front row, Koroiyadi, Uluikedekede, Dixon and Gerhard Wessels Captaining at Full Back.
They also welcomed back Zak Vakasawaqa at Scrum Half and Vee Veikune who made his first appearance of the season.
The Infantry got the game underway and both sides had some early posession with the ball and it was the home side who had the first opportunity at points with a penalty just inside the Infantry half. Despite the distance, Sapper Fly Half Dixon slotted the ball through the posts with an excellent kick and the Sappers lead 3-0.
The lead lasted only seconds however as the Infantry were awarded a penalty themselves on the ensuing kick off. Their Fly Half slotted the ball through the posts from 15 metres inside the Engineers half and the match was level, 3-3.
It was a tight contest and both sides had opportunites at adding more points. The hosts put together some good phases of rugby and broke away on several occassions, lead by Maku Koroiyadi who put together his trademark runs from scrums and rucks to give the Infantry defence problems.
Despite showing glimpses of good attacking phases, the Sappers gave away several penalties early on, letting their opponents off the hook and allowing the Infantry to come back at them. The Infantry looked to move the ball quickly and catch their opponents off guard with quick penalties and off loads in the tackle to keep the Sappers on the back foot. The home side managed to keep them at bay however and started to turn the tide as they crept back into the Infantry half looking to take the lead once again.
The Engineers were showing some good attacking bursts with Scrum Half Vakasawaqa sniping from the ruck on a couple of occassions and coming close to crossing the try line.
After a good spell, the Sappers did manage to cross the whitewash, however Koroiyadi (Jr) was judged to have knocked the ball on reaching for the line and the Infantry escaped once more.
The hosts were awarded a penalty shortly after but the kick from Dixon drifted to the right of the posts. It wasn't long though until the pressure finally told and the Sappers broke through the Infantry defence.
From a scrum 10 metres inside the Infantry half, the referee blew for a Free Kick and Vakasawaqa took a quick tap to catch the defence off guard and broke through towards the Try Line. Following good support, M. Koroiyadi picked up form the base of the ruck and stormed his way towards the line and crossed for the game's first Try, giving the Sappers a 10-3 lead after the successful conversion.
Following the Try, the game opend up once again with both sides having spells with the ball. The hosts were edging the territory battle and were keeping the Infantry under pressure as the first half drew to a close.
The Engineers once again closed in on the Infantry line and a series of penalties set them up with another good opportunity to score. The scrum was operating well, with the front row of Kilbey, Reeve & Koroiyadi driving well winning a succession of penalties and threatening with a penalty try.
After a third re-set of the scrum the Sappers drove well once more and it was Chris Lowrie who touched the ball down over the line to increase the Sapper lead to 17-3 after the conversion, going into half time.
The second half got underway and it was the Infantry who came back with the brighter spell in the opening ten minutes. They spent time inside the Sapper half, testing their defence looking to close the gap and get back in the game.
Despite their good start, the Infantry couldn't break through the Sapper wall and the hosts replied with a good spell themselves and they soon extended their lead further.
The Engineers showed good support when going forward, recycling quickly and keeping the Infantry on the back foot. Koroiyadi & Veikune put together good runs, breaking through the defence and it was Lowrie who was on hand once again to pick up from the base of a ruck in the corner to score his second of the day, bringing the score to 22-3.
Despite the scoreline, the Infantry kept their heads up and, as expected, they came back with another good spell as they looked to make inroads into the Sapper lead and push them until the final whistle.
The Infantry had good pace on the wing and used it to gain ground into the Sapper half and put their opponents under pressure and after a decent spell inside the Engineer half they eventually scored their first Try of the game as the clock wound down in the sceond period. After breaking down the left wing the Infantry Full Back was brought down with a great covering tackle from Vakasawaqa. The ball was worked quickly to the right wing however and the Infantry made good use of space to cross over for the Try in the corner and closed the gap to 22-8.
They weren't finished however as a few moments later they scored once again. After coming under pressure from the scrum the Infantry quickly shipped the ball to the right and they broke through once more from close range to score under the posts, which following the conversion brought them within seven points of the Sappers, 22-15.
The Sappers held the Infantry at bay for the remaining minutes of the game as the referee blew for full time. They will be disappointed with the late scores, however they got the important 'W' heading into the Christmas break against a tricky Infantry side.
As has been the case over the last few years, the Infantry always provide a tough match up for the Engineers and it was the same again today as they made the Sappers work hard for their win. The Engineers had good spells with the ball, but will be frustrated with certain aspects of their game, including in defence as they allowed the Infantry to come back with two late tries. The Sappers can take plenty of positives though as they now look forward to 2015 and set their sights on the Royal Signals who will provide another tough test after defeating the RLC in their final game of 2014.
The Sappers will need to carry their momentum with them into the Signals game as they hope to kick off 2015 with a win and build on their 2-1 record in the 2014-15 Corps Championship Season.
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers @ Royal Signals
Nuneaton 21st January 2015
The Army Corps Championship got back underway with the Royal Engineers making their first away trip of the Season to face an in form Royal Signals side up in Nuneaton.
The Sappers were looking to start 2015 in good style and build on their win over the Infantry in December. The Sigs however had other plans and had come off the back of an upset against the RLC in their previous fixture and were looking to make a statement against the current Corps Champions.
Conditions were good as the two sides took to the field for kick off. An earlier shower had passed and although the temperature was low there was little wind and the pitch looked good enough to provide some decent rugby.
The Sappers had a good mix of youth and experience in their side with a strong bench that they would look to utilise in the second half.
Tom Best made a return at Fly Half for the Engineers and got preceedings underway for the visitors. The Sappers started well and used the forward pack to good effect to make yards into the Signals half and were awarded an early penalty which Best cooley slotted through from just outside the 22, 3-0.
It wasn't long before the Sappers were threatening once again and putting together some good phases of rugby, moving the ball well through the hands with some great offloads in the tackle. From a lineout deep in their own half they broke through the Signals defence, with Koroiyadi carrying well. From there the ball was recycled quickly and Scrum Half, Zak Vakasawaqa opened up the backs to make good ground. After some great phases of rugby they inched closer to the tryline with the forwards carrying well and the Try finally came through Vee Veikune who went over in the corner to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
The Engineers kept the pace up and added to their lead soon after. They were strong in the scrum and causing problems for the Signals and almost had their second Try following a nice attack inside the Sigs 22 however after Sapper inside centre Steff Morgan broke through the line he was judged to have knocked the ball on prior to touching down and the hosts escaped.
The Engineers kept the pressure on at the resulting scrum, with the Signals finding it difficult to clear their lines. Vic Reeve made an excellent block from an attempted box kick at the ruck and after a frantic clearence the ball was picked up by Sam Sema on the 22 with clear space in front of him. He breezed through the defence and off loaded to Lordi Waqa on his outside to finish off the move in the corner, giving the Sappers a deserved 13-0 lead.
The visitors were well and truly on the front foot and after turning a Signals attack over they looked to counter from deep in their own half. Following great defence it was the turn of the Sapper backs to show off their flair and after shipping the ball quickly to the wing it was 'Sixes' Railoa who received the ball just outside his own 22 and brilliantly cut through the attempted tackles from the Sigs defence. He showed great pace and agility to work his way back across the pitch and race to the corner and score a superb try giving the Sappers an 18-0 lead.
The Signals managed to steady the ship following the Sappers brilliant start however they couldn't break through the excellent defence and as half time approached the visitors had one more score to add. After once again turning the ball over the Sappers countered with Darrell Ball and Vee Veikune combining well with a one-two. Veikune showed his great pace and power by storming straight through the Signals defence, to score his second try of the game. After the conversion the Engineers lead 25-0, finishing off a superb first half!
The Engineers kept up their great effort into the second half and were particularly impressive in defence, keeping the Signals at bay and putting in some great tackles, organising themselves well as a unit when put under pressure. They also threatened with more chances in attack, with the centre pairing of Waqa and Morgan combining well along with Railoa and Sema on the wing, showing good power and pace to create some good opportunities.
Eventually the Engineers added to their tally, with Vee Veikune wrapping up an impressive performance completing his hat-trick and with it another superb team effort. The Sappers went through the phases brilliantly, recycling the ball well, keeping the Signals on the back foot. The move was finished off with Jope, and then Sema, off loading nicely in the tackle allowing the supporting Veikune to barge through from close distance for the Try rounding off a great score. Tom Best added the conversion to take the score to 32-0.
Minutes later and the Sappers were back at it again. The visitors stole the ball from the Signals lineout and worked their way upfield, with the center pairing once again combining well to create space. After moving the ball across the pitch, they worked it back again, stretching the defence and fittingly it was outside centre Lordi Waqa who finished off the move, 37-0.
To the Signal's credit they kept their heads up as they searched for a score of their own to get on the board. They drove well in the forwards, with Dave Bates carrying well, however the Sapper defence were determined to hold them off, continuing their great effort so far in the game. With the Sapper Wall proving too difficult to break through, the Sigs tried the aerial approach, chipping over the defence. The replacement Sapper winger was in position to cover however the ball took an unkind bounce and the approaching Signal player was able to touch the ball down for the Try, which was converted bringing the score to 37-7.
The Engineers would have the last say as the game approached full time. They once again capitalised on a Sigs mistake with Waqa picking up a loose ball at midfield and driving through tacklers up to half way where he offloaded to Sapper Winger 'K' supporting on the inside who showed great pace to run in from halfway untouched and score yet another Sapper Try. After slotting through the conversion the referee blew for full time with the Engineers taking a well deserved victory 44-7.
Despite the long road trip up to Nuneaton, the Sappers arrived determined and focused and put together a superb performance in both attack and defence and were thoroughly deserving of their win. The front row of Koroiyadi, Reeve and Kilbey put in a great shift and were supported well in the pack by Eli, Veikune, Ball and Whittaker with Maku Koroiyadi also carrying powerfully. The backs also combined well to put together some great tries and showed good chemistry creating overlaps through great off loads and good running lanes.
The Engineers now turn their attention to the Royal Artillery in the final round of the Corps Championship in March. It will of course be a tough encounter against the old rivals away at Larkhill and with a place in the Corps Final at stake both teams will go all out to win and lift the infamous Cannon Ball at the end of the game.
Be sure to come down and support the Sappers in both the Vets game and Senior XV on 4th March!
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers @ Royal Artillery
Larkhill, 4th March 2015
The Final regular Season game of the 2014/15 Season saw the Royal Engineers travel to Larkhill to take on their old nemesis; the Royal Artillery.
It is always a highly contested and passionate game as both sides look to hoist the Jones-Drake Cannon Ball Trophy aloft at the end of the 80 minutes and this game was to be another classic contest between the two.
Early signs of Spring were on show with the sun making a welcome appearence for kick off, however a strong wind was blowing across the pitch which would make for a significant advantage to each team over the two halves.
The Sappers were led once again by Skipper Al Whittaker, and welcomed back Laqekoro in the back row after a long absence due to injury. In the Backs, the experienced pair of Wessells and Nacamavuto anchored the midfield, with young Fly Half O'Rourke making his first Sapper/Gunner appearance.
The hosts got the game underway and would be utilising the wind advantage in the first half. The Sappers had a brief spell in the opening minutes and put together some nice phases with Jope and Laqekoro carrying well early on. The Gunners however soon started to creep up field into the Engineers half and set out an ealry marker at the scrums to gain good ground and put pressure on their opponents.
After a succession of penalties the referee blew once more in front of the posts against the Engineers, who would be down to 14 men after Laqekoro was sent to the Sin Bin for handling in the ruck. The Artillery took their chance to slot through an easy kick to open the scoring, 3-0.
The Artillery made the most of the wind to kick for the corner and put their opponents on the back foot and were enjoying their success at the scrum to ping back the Sappers in their own half. It wasn't long before the Gunners capitalised and crossed the Try line. From a scrum on the Sapper 22 the hosts shipped the ball out and, despite a good rush defence by the Engineers, the ball was kicked towards the corner by the Artillery Fly Half where their chasing winger out paced the covering defender to touch the ball down for the Try, 8-0.
The hosts kept up their pressure with continued attacks inside the Sapper half and they soon found their way across the Try line once more. Following a Sapper 22 Drop out, the Artillery launched another attack and made good ground with their forward pack. They then shipped the ball across the pitch, opening up the defence. A nice offload from the Artillery Fly Half opened up the Sapper defence and their Centre went through for an easy Try to extend the lead, 13-0.
The Engineers were finding it difficult to get any momentum going, and were unable to get a foot-hold in the game and put any real phases together. They continued to struggle to just get out of their own half, with the wind really making an impact. It wasn't long before the Artillery once again added another score. From a lineout inside the Engineer 22, the Gunners threw deep and drove well towards the Engineer Try line. After gaining a penalty advantage they passed the ball wide quickly, and despite a good covering defence the Gunner Wingers made the most of the available space and sneaked over in the corner for another score, which was converted to give the hosts a 20-0 lead just before the break.
Following the break, the Engineers knew they would need to put in a huge effort if they were to retain the Cannon Ball. They now had the advantage of having the wind at their backs and would hope to put it to the same good effect that the Gunners had in the first half. They made an early dent into the score with their first points of the game from the boot of Fly Half O'Rourke, who slotted through a Drop Goal from close range after an early attack. It was a good quick start to the second period and the Sappers looked to come straight back still trailing 20-3.
It was the Gunners who replied with a good spell themselves, making ground into the Sapper half but they were kept at bay by the visitors, despite losing their Captain, Whittaker who came off with an ankle injury. The Artillery continued to dominate up front, which set them up with a good platform at the scrum to attack from, however the Sappers tightened up in defence and started to come back at the hosts.
As the clocked ticked on the Sappers knew they would need to spark into life soon if they were to have a chance at winning the game. The leadership of the team shone through with the likes of Wessells and Nacamavuto rallying the team to pick up the tempo and take the game to their opponents. The two centres combined well and started to cut nice lines through the Gunner defence and with great support and offloading they were soon threatening to cross the whitewash.
After a good spell the Sappers finally crossed the Try line following some great work by both the forwards and backs. Following a great off load in the tackle, Wessells collected the ball one handed and sprinted towards the Try line to close the gap to 20-8.
The score energised the team and they came right back at their opponents, with Scrum Half Zack Vakasawaqa putting an excellent run together from his own 22'. He used his pace and agility to cut through the Gunner defence and after he was finally brought down they were set up nicely inside the Artillery half with great field position.
Soon after, they crossed the Try line once again after Nacamavuto broke through the defensive line and offloaded to the supporting Chris Clifford who was brought down just shy of the line. Fellow substitute Vata was on hand to take a great off load and score the Try to bring the score to 20-13.
Despite the score, the Sappers were dealt a blow after losing Vakasawaqa to injury after he suffered a broken arm during the build up.
Despite the injury blow to Vakasawaqa the Engineers kept up their momentum and came right back with another score. The visitors put together another good spell of phases to break into the Gunner 22, with Wessells and Curgenven breaking the line to gain good ground. Once again both the forwards and backs combined well with great handling and off loading and eventually they created the space on the wing where Nacamavuto collected and scored in the corner to close the gap to two points, 20-18. The difficult conversion was pushed just wide and the Gunners maintained a two point gap for the final few minutes and the referee then blew for full time, giving the Artillery the win.
Despite the result the Sappers can take positives going forward after a spirited fightback in the second half and they will look to bounce back next month in the Corps Final which will see the two sides square off against each other once again. The team were dealt a blow following the injuries to Whittaker and also Vakasawaqa, who will be out for some time after breaking his arm. The leadership of the team shone through though with several players stepping up when it counted and leading by example to take the fight to their opponents.
Next up is the Corps Final for both sides as the Sappers look to retain the trophy they won last year. The Gunners will be making their first appearence in the Final and will look to continue their success with one more win. It is sure to be another great contest, be sure to come down to the Aldershot Stadium - 8th April.
Royal Engineers Team vs Royal Artillery:
1. Windle 2. Reeve 3. Kilbey 4. Whittaker 5. Crosby 6. Mailulu 7. Laqekoro 8. Jope 9. Vakasawaqa
10. O'Rourke 11. Morgan 12. Wessells 13. Nacamavuto 14. Campey 15. Curgenven
Subs: 16. Clifford 17. Evans 18. Lazarevic 19. Spelman 20. Witko 21. McLean 22. Vata 23. Lawton
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers vs Royal Artillery
Army Corps Final
Aldershot, 8th April 2015
Just over a month from their defeat to the Royal Artillery in the final Corps Regular Season fixture the two rivals met once again in the Season Finale at the Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot.
The Sappers would look to avenge their defeat and claim their second successive title and sixth overall whilst the Gunners were looking to cap off an undefeated season with their first Corps Title.
The Engineers had a strong pool of players to choose from for the fixture which saw Darrell Ball return in the Back Row along with Koroiyadi. The Back line was equally strong with Vata and Dixon at 9 and 10 and Army Centre's Wessells and Nacamavuto along with Sema, Railoa and Curgenven.
Conditions were excellent for the two sides as they got the highly anticipated game underway infront of a good crowd at the Army Stadium.
IMAGES PROVIDED BY JOHN WALTON PHOTOGRAPHY
After just a couple of minutes it was the Artillery who opened the scoring with an early penalty from the boot of Davies who slotted through after the Sappers conceded a penalty at the scrum - an area which they were looking to address following a disappointing performance in their previous meeting.
The Engineers then came back with a good spell and looked the more threatening to score the game's first Try. After a good forward drive Maku Koroiyadi throught he had touched down but the referee couldn't see a clear grounding and brought it back for a five metre scrum. The Engineers then gave away a penalty allowing their opponents to clear their ground. The Artillery were soon awarded another penalty on the Sapper 10 metre line which was again slotted through by Davies to double the lead to 6-0.
The Sappers kept cool heads and came straight back with another attack and again were putting together some promising phases and it wasn't long before they eventually scored. After a good lineout insie the Gunner 22, Laqekoro burst through the defence and was tackled just shy of the Try Line, from the ensuing ruck, Koroiyadi picked up the ball and finished the job to score the opening Try which was converted by Fly Half Dixon to give the Sapper the lead 7-6.
Just moments later, the Sappers were back on the attack following a quickly taken penalty by Vata. They burst through the Gunner defence and Winger Sam Sema showed great pace on the touchline to set up Nacamavuto on his inside for a great Try to extend the lead to 12-6.
The Engineers were high on confidence and creating good opporutunities with their great pace and handling through the backs and good power rugby upfront as well. After picking up a loose ball the Sappers once again put together a great attack using their quickness to shift the ball across the pitch to stretch the defence and create gaps to exploit. Sema again showed good pace and power to get the ball within inches of the Try Line, with Vic Reeve also carrying well to come up just short. Vata showed good alertness to snipe from the base of the ruck and touch the ball down on the line to extend their lead further to 19-6 following a good conversion by Dixon.
The Engineers were enjoying a great spell in the first half and took a firm hold of the game with three good scores, however the Gunners regathered themselves and started to come back at their opponents as the first half came to a close. They created chances out wide and looked threatening however good defence from the Sappers held them at bay. With just moments left in the first half however the Sappers were dealt a blow as Full Back Matt Curgenven was Sin Binned for an infringement at the ruck. The Gunners couldn't capitalise on the advantage before half time but would start with again in the second half with time to exploit the extra man advantage.
As the second period got underway it was the Engineers who came out firing and put together some excellent phases of rugby to add another Try. Joe Uluikedekede made a great run through the Gunner defence to help put them in good field position and from there the Sappers moved closer to the tryline with both the Backs and Forwards putting in a great effort. As the phases built, the Engineers moved the ball wide and it was Laqekoro who barged his way over the Tryline to add to the lead 26-6.
From the ensuing kick off the Engineers came straight back at their opponents and scored another Try. Once again, good movement and handling from the backs created the space and after Sema and Morgan combined to get the ball into the Artillery half it was Railoa finished off the move picking up from a ruck and running straight through the Gunner defence to cross the Try line untouched for another great Try, 33-6.
The early scores in the second half had given the Sappers a dominating lead, however there was still stime on the clock for the Artillery to try and work their way back into the game.
They regrouped and put together a good spell to put the Engineers on the back foot and eventually broke through the Sapper defence with a good drive from a lineout, with Skipper Ken Dowding touching the ball down to bring the score to 33-13.
The Engineers came back though and added two penalties from the boot of James Dixon to keep the scoreboard ticking over and as the game entered its final stages the Sappers had a 39-13 lead and were looking comfortable.
As time ticked on, the Gunners were able to break through the Sapper defence once more for a Try however time was not on their side and the referee blew for full time minutes later to give the Sappers their second consecutive Corps Championship in a very entertaining game. The Artillery put in a good performance and were it not for some excellent Sapper defence could have added more Tries to make for a closer game. The Engineers were thoroughly deserving of their win however after a great performance all round from the team, working well up front and in the backs to produce some great rugby and Tries.
Congratulations to the entire Royal Engineers RFC set up on a great season - UBIQUE!
Royal Engineers Team vs Royal Artillery:
1. Koroiyadi 2. Reeve 3. Kilbey 4. Whittaker 5. Uluikedekede 6. Ball
7. Laqekoro 8. Koroiyadi 9. Vata 10. Dixon 11. Railoa 12. Wessells
13. Nacamavuto 14. Sema 15. Curgenven
Subs: Windle, Eastley, Clifford, Evans, Witko, Lawton, Morgan, Jope, Tubuna.
Reported By J. Fowke
Below is the Pre Game Montage put together for the team
Thank you to John Walton for providing the excellent images from the Game - his full selection can be viewed on his Flickr Account.