The annual Army Rugby Union Corps Festival took place in Aldershot making the start of the Union Season.
Army Rugby Union Corps Festival
The Sappers had plenty of new faces taking part and putting in a great shift throughout a tough day of rugby across five group games. First up was the old rivals the Royal Artillery, it was a tale of two halves as the Gunners dominated the first 10 minutes going into the break 5-0 up. The Sappers came back though and piled on the pressure in the second half, eventually crossing the Try line in the final seconds and crucially converted the conversion to take a 7-5 win. The REME were up next in which the Sappers produced some good flowing rugby to take their second victory, 15-5. Game three vs the RLC was a tighter affair as both teams struggled to break through the others defences. After a tough battle the contest ended 5-5 going into the lunch break.
The Final two games after lunch saw the Sappers beat the Signals, 24-0 putting together some great rugby for their biggest win of the day. The last group game would be a winner takes all vs the Infantry who were undefeated going into the match. It was a well fought contest in which the Infantry scored midway through the first half to take a 5-0 lead into the break. Despite good pressure in the second half, the Infantry defence held firm and they took the win, 5-0 and booked their spot in the Final vs RLC.
New Head Coach Gerhard Wessels will certainly have plenty to be pleased about with the entire squad putting in a great effort throughout the day and putting their names in contention for places for the first Corps Fixture vs the Infantry at the end of the month. We look forward to the new season! Unique!
Games This Season
Army Corps Festival
Aldershot - 11 September 2019
Royal Engineers @ Infantry - W 42-17
25 September 2019
Royal Engineers @ RLC - L 12-29
23 October 2019
Royal Engineers vs R Signals - W 25-8
Minley - 13 November 2019
Royal Engineers vs REME - L 17-19
Minley - 4 December 2019
Royal Engineers vs R Artillery - L 12-23
Minley - 15 January 2020
Army Corps Final Day
Aldershot - 11 March 2020
Corps Festival 2019
Royal Engineers vs Infantry
Army Corps League 1 - Game 1
The Royal Engineers travelled to Warminster to take on the Infantry in the opening round of the 2019/20 Army Corps League 1 Competition.
The Infantry were high on confidence after a good day at the Corps Competition two weeks previously in Aldershot, finishing Runners-up.
The Sapper team featured several new faces who had impressed at the Corps Competition and new Head Coach, Gerhard Wessels was looking forward to seeing what they would produce.
The opening stages of the game were competitive as both sides looked to strike first. It was the Sappers who converted an early Penalty through the boot of Fly Half, Matt Melish. The lead was not to last long as the Infantry converted a Penalty themselves through their Fly Half, Aaron James.
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
The Sappers were looking good in the opening stages and enjoyed some decent possession inside the Infantry half. They soon broke the deadlock as they turned defence into attack capitalising on a loose ball at the Infantry breakdown following a good counter ruck inside the home side's 22. The ball was picked up and scored by RE Prop, Plant. The conversion from Melish was good and he was soon scoring himself as he crossed the Try line following a quickly taken Penalty. He caught the defence off guard and ran through for the Try, 17-3 after converting his own score. Soon after, it was Sapper Centre, Vata, who ran a nice line off the back of a Lineout to cut through the defence to go over for the Try, 22-3. The visitors kept the pressure on as they scored once more just before half time. After a Lineout deep in the Infantry half, the forwards drove well and touched down for the score from RE 8 Cakua, taking the score to 29-3 going into Half Time.
As the second half got underway the heavens had opened and a heavy shower made life difficult for both sides. Despite the tricky conditions, the Infantry put together a fantastic passage of play, skipping through tackles and using their pace to break into the Sapper half and score a Try to give them some hope early in the second period, 29-10. The Sappers added another Penalty shortly after through the boot of Melish before scoring again to extend their lead with a great Try showing off great pace and power on the Wing, 39-10. In the final stages of the game the Infantry added another Try, pouncing on a loose ball at the ruck in the Sapper 'In goal' area to score once again and convert, 39-17. The Sappers finished with a final three points following another Penalty before the Referee blew for Full Time shortly after, 42-17.
All in all it was a good contest between the two sides in which the Sappers did most of the damage late in the first half. The team looked threatening throughout the game and with several new faces in contention for game time this season there is plenty to look forward to. Many thanks to the Infantry team for hosting us and for another great contest. The Sappers now look forward to their next game, away vs RLC.
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
Royal Engineers vs Royal Logistic Corps
Army Corps League 1 - Game 2
Round two of the Army Rugby Union Corps Championship saw the Royal Engineers travel to Chippenham to take on the Royal Logistic Corps on the newly re-surfaced artificial pitch at Chippenham Rugby Club.
This fixture has always proved to be an entertaining contest to watch over the years and the two sides put on another good showing again. Earlier in the morning, the two Vets sides took to the field with the Sappers taking the victory.
Both sides enjoyed good possession early in the game but it was the Engineers who put the first points on the board with the returning James Dixon slotting through a penalty from in front of the posts on the RLC 10-metre line, 3-0.
The reliable boot of Dixon converted two more penalties shortly after, including a great kick from halfway to take the Sappers to an early 9-0 lead.
Despite the lead, the hosts were looking threatening and frequently tested the Sapper defence making good use of the boot to pin their opponents in their own half and then putting on the pressure with their speed and size in the backs. This was evident when their outside Centre bundled his way over the Try line following a scrum inside the Sapper 22 - after picking up the ball he carried well and broke through several tackles on his way to the line, 9-7 going into the break.
As the second half got underway both sides had chances to add to their tally. The RLC had a Try disallowed for tackling a Sapper player off the ball. The Sappers shortly added another three points from Dixon, 12-7.
Following the Penalty, the RLC then kicked things up a notch and added their second Try of the day from a driving maul following a Lineout inside the Sapper 22', 12-12.
The RLC shortly after took the lead with their Back Row playing a key role in breaking through the Sapper defence to allow their outside Centre to grab his second score, 12-17.
The visitors were unable to capitalise on their own chances during the second period and it was the RLC who extended their lead further following a good series of 'pick & go's' form the RLC Forwards finished off by the Scrum half who crossed to take the score to 12-22.
A final score was added just before the 80 minute mark as the hosts used their size on the wing to cross over for one more score courtesy of Yawayawa, taking the score to 12-29 following a successful conversion as the referee then blew for full time.
It was another good contest between the two sides, producing some entertaining rugby on a fast 4G pitch. The Sappers will be disappointed not to have pushed on following a decent first half, however the RLC proved why they have been so successful over recent years as they cranked up the pressure at key moments in the second half to pull away and take a deserved win.
The Engineers now look forward to hosting the Royal Signals at Minley on November 13th, hoping to reverse last seasons loss and get a W back on the board in round three of the Army Corps Championship.
Royal Engineers vs Royal Signals
Army Corps League 1 - Game 3
The Royal Engineers get back on track after defeating the Royal Signals 25-8 at Minley - another good encounter between the two sides, the Sappers avenge last years defeat and now look forward to finishing 2019 with another Home fixture vs the REME on 4th December.
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
IMAGE - S. SMITH RE
Royal Engineers vs REME
Army Corps League 1 - Game 4
The final game of 2019 saw the Sappers host the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers at Minley. This match up has produced many fantastic games over recent years and it was to be another nail biting encounter between the two sides that went right down to the final moments of the game.
It was the Sappers who started more promisingly and opened up the scoring with an early Try, after a scrum Penalty, the home side went quickly and the forwards picked well to cross the line for an early lead, 5-0.
From the resulting kick off, the REME looked to reply and used their territory well to earn a penalty themselves and kicked from just in front of the posts to reduce the margin, 5-3.
The Sappers then enjoyed a good spell of possession inside the REME half, aided with a man advantage due to a yellow card. For all their pressure they were unable to find a way through a firm REME defence and were left disappointed, unable to come away with points. The Sappers then found themselves on the wrong side of a few Penalty decisions and were also reduced to 14 men. The visitors kicked a Penalty to take the lead, 5-6 and soon extended their lead after collecting a clearing kick and breaking through a scattered Sapper defensive line making the score 5-13 going into half time.
As the second half got underway the Sappers enjoyed a decent early spell inside the REME half, they were unable to convert a Penalty attempt to close the gap however and soon after the REME extended their lead through the boot of their Prop who was on good form off the Tee, 5-16.
The Sappers responded well and were putting pressure on their opponents but were often left frustrated after scuppering chances and finding themselves unable to break through a solid, determined REME defence.
As time ticked on, the pressure eventually told and the Sappers were able to cross for a Try following a quick penalty. The forwards used the 'pick & go' well and crossed over for the score by the post to close the gap 12-16 following a successful conversion.
As the game entered it's final moments the Sappers were still keeping the pressure on. A fantastic driving maul, following a kick to the corner, allowed the forwards to drive the REME backwards and the home side managed to touch down right in the corner - following confirmation from the TJ a Try was given and the Sappers took the slimmest of leads, 17-16 entering the last two minutes.
Following the kick off the REME knocked the ball on, however a late hit on the ball carrier gave the visitors a final shot to clinch the game from just inside the Sapper half. The REME Prop once again struck the ball well from the Tee and a fantastic kick gave them back the lead 17-19 which is how the game ended moments later.
The Sappers will be disappointed not to have capitalised better on opportunities during the game as they fell to their second defeat of the Season - they now look forward to welcoming the Gunners to Minley in the New Year in the final round of the Army Corps Competition. Congratulations to the REME on their victory!
That wraps up 2019 for the Sappers, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to 2020!
Royal Engineers vs Royal Artillery
Army Corps League 1 - Game 5
The final regular season game of the 2019/20 Army Corps Championship would feature the two old rivals facing off against each other once again - Sappers vs Gunners for the Jones-Drake Cannonball Trophy.
The Gunners were going into the game having won the past five encounters and were unbeaten during the Season - already booking their place in the Corps Final. For the Sappers it was about building on the foundations that new Head Coach Gerhard Wessels had set out at the beginning of the Season. Although a young side, the Sappers have the building blocks of an impressive up and coming squad, several of whom would be making their first appearance in this old match.
After a recent passing storm earlier in the week, thankfully conditions had improved dramatically as the two teams took to the field. Earlier in the morning the Sapper Masters recorded an impressive victory over their counterparts as all eyes now focused on the two Senior sides.
The Sappers came out well in the opening stages of the game and converted two Penalty kicks from the boot of Skipper James Dixon, to take an early 6-0 lead.
The visitors responded well and on their next visit to the Sapper 22 they created an excellent scoring opportunity from a nice box kick to chip over the defensive line allowing their Full Back, Harry Whittington to touch the ball down over the Try line, 6-5.
The Engineers came back with some decent territory however were struggling to find that clinical finish to take them over the Try line themselves. Penalties and handling errors set them back but they were still able to come away with three points once again from the boot of Dixon, 9-5.
Shortly before half time, the hosts were dealt a blow as they lost a man to the Sin Bin following a bad tip tackle. The Artillery capitalised well and aided by a strong pack scored in the corner to take a slim 9-10 lead into the break.
The Artillery added three more points early in the second half before that Sappers came back with a spell of their own to add another penalty themselves, 12-13 - again though disappointingly were unable to capitalise on their chances to score more. The Gunner pack were gaining more momentum as the game went on and were creating opportunities as a result, putting their opponents under pressure at scrum time and picking up penalties to move their way upfield into scoring range. They converted another Penalty to extend their lead, 12-16 before putting the game out of reach shortly after.
Gunner winger, Connor O'Reilly was in fine form in both attack and defence and almost scored in the corner but was unable to touch the ball down over the Try line. With a Penalty advantage, however, the Artillery had a second chance from a Lineout and used their pack to drive towards the line and cross underneath the posts, 12-23 following the conversion.
Although the Sappers kept going at their opponents, they were just unable to find a way through the defence and ultimately weren't able to close the gap before Full Time. Despite the result there were still many positives to take from individuals and collectively as a team - an exciting prospect going into next Season! Many congratulations to the Royal Artillery on their victory - we look forward to next years fixture at Larkhill.
Sapperrugby would also like to send our thanks to our sponsors, Hesco & Kepi International. Your support is very much appreciated!
We look forward the upcoming Inter Services Rugby Union clashes with the Army Rugby Union taking on the RAF at Kingsholm and of course the Royal Navy at Twickenham - we expect to see plenty of Sappers supporting the Reds and thank you for your support of Sapperrugby this season!