The Royal Engineers returned to action at the annual Corps XV Competition at a rain soaked Aldershot, winning three games but just miss out on the Final after narrow losses to the Gunners and Infantry.
The Sappers had a mixed day but showed promise at the Corps XV Competition
Corps Festival 2015
The Sappers started their season at the annual Corps XV Competition facing their old enemy the Royal Artillery on the Stadium Pitch. It was a close contest in which both teams had chances throughout the two 12 minute halves. The Engineers put together a great move just before half time following a chip over the defence which was brilliantly collected by Laqekoro, however Captain Al Whittaker was judged to have knocked the ball on after crossing the line. The Gunners threatened in the second half and eventually converted a Drop Kick penalty in the dying seconds to take the win 3-0.
The Engineers came back positively and after a handful of changes in which several newcomers made a good impression they defeated the REME 15-0 and narrowly defeated the RLC 3-0 before the lunch break.
The Sappers then put in another strong performance defeating the Royal Signals 24-3 to earn their third win in a row and started to gather momentum as the rain kept pouring, making life difficult for all involved!
Their final game saw them take on the Infantry, needing a win to ensure their place in the main Final. It was a scrappy affair however and despite taking the lead with a Drop Goal Penalty the Sappers defence was eventually unlocked in the final minute and the Infantry took a slender 5-3 victory, knocking out the Sappers.
Despite the defeat the Engineers can take a lot of positives fromt the Competition, which saw a good showing from a strong squad that included plenty of new talent to compliment the first team stalwarts.
The Sappers now turn their attention to the REME who they play at Minley on September 30th - Be sure to come down and support them!
Royal Engineers vs REME
Minley 30th September 2015
The opening fixture of the 2015/16 Army Corps Season saw the Royal Engineers play host to the REME in a re-match of last years opening day.
The Sappers were narrowly beaten last time and would look for a better start to kick off their campaign this time around.
The home side had a good blend of youth and experience as several new faces made a good impression whilst the experience also shone through during the 80 minutes.
Vic Reeve Captained the side at a Sunny but very Windy Minley as the hosts got the game underway.
It was the Sappers who started brighter and soon set up camp inside the REME half following the kick off. After a couple of probing attacks they soon shifted into gear following a lineout just inside the REME half. After winning the ball, the hosts drove the maul brilliantly deep into the REME half winning a Penalty advantage. From there the ball was shipped wide where the Backs got to work making more ground inside the REME 22. After spreading the ball back across the pitch they looked like they had space to exploit on the touchline, however the final pass didn't go to hand and the pressure was relieved as the ball bounced into touch.
The hosts were soon back on the front foot however and from a scrum inside the REME 22 they set up their attack. After shipping the ball wide they drove well upfield; McLaren and Veikune caused problems as they broke through the defence and it was the returning Zak Vakasawaqa at Scrum Half who sniped well from the base of the ruck and crossed over the Try Line for the opening score which was brilliantly converted despite the wind for an early 7-0 Sapper lead.
The Sappers soon doubled their lead following an attacking lineout inside the REME 22. They spread the ball to the right and the backs did a good job gaining yards to set up closer to the Try Line. A few phases later and the hosts crossed once again with Sapper #14 breaking through a gap in the defence for the score, which following another good conversion gave the Sappers a deserved 14-0 lead.
The REME had their moments to try and get a foothold in the game but it was the Engineers who came back with another Try soon after to give themselves a commanding lead. Veikune was once again involved and broke through the defensive line brilliantly and offloaded to the supporting Vakasawaqa for him to run in underneath the posts for another score, 21-0.
The visitors knew that they would need to score before half time to give themselves something positive to build on heading into the break. They gradually came into the match and started to threaten with some good attacks of their own. They started form a lineout just outside the Sapper 22 and 'pick and drove' nicely gaining good ground and eventually winning a penalty. They chose to take a quick tap and spread the ball to the left and then back across the pitch where they found a little space on the wing and eventually crossed over for the Try. Following a good conversion the visitors closed the gap to 21-7 heading into Half Time.
Following the break, both sides had opportunities in attack as the game evened out slightly, however it was the home side who scored next and extended their lead. It came following a nice looking attack from the REME but a loose pass was picked up by Vee Veikune who once again showed his good turn of pace to exploit the open space on the counter attack. Good support from Laqekoro and substitute Vata helped the Engineers roll deep into REME territory. The move was finished off nicely by Sapper #5 who stepped in nicely on the wing to beat his defender and cross the Try Line. Another good conversion saw the hosts take a 28-7 lead and they were looking good for the win.
The REME came back with good phases of pressure as the game moved into its closing stages and eventually crossed over to close the gap to 14 points as they exploited open space on the wing, 28-14.
The Sapper defence tightened up well following the easy Try and made sure that the REME would not get any closer on the scoreboard and the referee soon blew for Full Time with the hosts taking a deserved win 28-14.
Overall it was a solid win for the Sappers who did most of their damage in the opening period of the game scoring three good Tries to put their opponent on the back foot. No doubt the Coaches will highlight areas to improve but a good mix of new faces with the Senior names started off the Season in good order and will look to build for their next game vs AGC in November.
Team Line up to follow...
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers vs AGC
4th November 2015
The Royal Engineers were back in action in Round 2 of the Army Corps Championship as they travelled to take on the League's newcomers - the Adjutant Generals Corps. The Sappers were coming off the back of a good win vs the REME in Round 1, although they would would be without several Army First XV players who were unavailable due to injury coming off the back of the IDRC. The Engineers however have the good fortune of depth in their squad and called upon several new faces who have entered the fold this season and were looking to build on a good start and overcome a potentially tricky opponent in the form of the AGC.
Heavy showers were in the area as the two teams took to the field on a heavy, boggy pitch which would make conditions difficult for both sides as the home team got the game underway.
The opening stages of the game were back and forth as the two sides looked to pin the other deep in their own territory and force a mistake in the conditions. It was the Sappers who put themselves under pressure early with a succession of penalties against as the AGC looked to get an early score. Fortunatley for the visitors, a shot at goal from just outside the 10 metre link fell short and they looked to clear their lines and set about building some momentum.
The Engineers were showing glimpses, driving well upfront to gain good yardage and also using good pace on the outside, however they were frustrated with errors and turnovers which halted their progress.
They were dealt a further blow when Skipper Joe Mclean was sent to the Sin Bin, just as the Sappers were driving towards the AGC Try Line in the Maul.
The Engineers were still able to create chances despite being a man light in the forwards and were looking the more threatening to open the scoring. They were continuing to rue missed opportunities through errors and penalties, however they eventually sprung into life as Mclean re-entered the game.
From an AGC lineout just inside the Sapper half, the Engineers rushed up in defence and put their opponents under pressure allowing Jake Campey to pick up a loose ball and race towards the Try Line. Following good support, the ball was recycled and the pack drove forward inside the 22. From the driving Maul, scrum half Zack Vakasawaqa picked up and sniped well to cut through a gap in the defence and cross for the score, 5-0.
The first half was a tight, scrappy affair and as time wound down the AGC converted a penalty to bring the score within two points, 5-3.
The Sappers looked to add another Try just before halftime and put together a good spell as they drove well inside the AGC 22, capitalising on a turnover. A combination of good defence and more poor Sapper discipline resulted in a turnover and the two sides went into half time split by just two points.
After a dissapointing and frustrating first half, the Engineers looked to pull away from their opponents in the second period and tighten up on the penalty count which had mounted up during the opening forty minutes. The first opportunity for points came early on as a the visitors caused a turnover and a neat kick through the defence by Lowrie allowed 'Sixes' Railoa to chase. The Winger kicked on, however was just beaten by the ball which rolled out past the dead ball line.
This seemed to spark the Sappers into life and they were soon back on the offensive where they finally added another Try. An AGC scrum on half way was put under good pressure and it was Veikune and Lowrie again in the mix causing the turnover and pouncing on the loose ball. Lowrie off loaded nicely to Vic Reeve on the touchline who in turn shipped it onto Veikune on his inside to finish off a nice move for the Try 10-3.
The AGC were still firmly in the game and came back with opportunities of their own, once again capitalising on poor Sapper discipline. Following another penalty, they took a shot at the posts however the kick was pushed just wide and the visitors escaped again. The AGC enjoyed a decent spell midway through the second half, but the Sappers held them off and came back with a decent attack of their own and almost scored again, however Mclaren was held up over the Try Line following a good driving maul.
As the game moved into its final stages, the Sappers rang in the changes and they began to up the intensity looking to increase their lead and with it claim a winning bonus point. They eventually crossed the Try Line once more, again putting pressure on the AGC scrum and forcing a turnover followng a good counter drive. Vakasawaqa pressured the AGC Number 8 and pounced on a loose ball and offloaded to Vata who burst through the line untouched, showing great pace to run from halfway for the Try, moving the score to 17-3 following the conversion.
There was still time for two more tries as the game entered its final minutes, with replacement Hooker Vic Reeve showing a great burst of speed as the Sappers drove well into the AGC half. Following a good carry from Joe Mclean, Reeve picked up the ball from the base of the ruck and shot through a gap in the defence to race towards the Try Line for the score, 22-3.
Reeve almost added a second Try under similar circumstances, once again picking up the ball from the ruck and cutting through a gap in the defence. This time the AGC had cover in place however Vakasawaqa was supporting on the inside and Reeve delivered the pass to put in the scrum half underneath the posts to cap of a better second half for the Sappers who took the victory 29-3.
It may not have been the most captivating game, however the Engineers came away with an important Bonus Point win against a plucky AGC side who made life difficult for the visitors.
After a dissapointing first half, the Sappers regrouped and put in a better display in the second period scoring four unanswered Tries, showing good resolve despite the tricky conditions. The younger players put on a good display, showing the excellent depth that Head Coach Mark Reed has at his disposal and the Sappers will now look forward to facing the Infantry in the final game of 2015 on December 2nd. They have proved a difficult opponent of late and the Sappers will look to build on this second half showing to be ready to go and finish the year on a high.
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers @ Infantry
2nd December 2015
The final game of 2015 saw the Royal Engineers make the short trip from Minley to Pirbright as they took on the Infantry, looking to end the year on a high.
The Sappers had made a good start to the Corps campaign with two wins against the REME and AGC, however they would be wary of an Infantry team who have given the visitors trouble in past encounters.
Conditions were good for the two sides as they took to the pitch on a reasonably mild December afternoon, with Vic Reeve leading the Sappers out and Tom Best getting the game underway for the Maroon & Blue.
The Sappers started the game well and put early pressure on their opponents and it wasn't long before they got on the score board with the opening Try of the match. From a scrum on the Infantry 22, the Sappers put on good pressure and drove the home side backwards, causing a turnover from which the Sappers were awarded a Scrum of their own. The pack drove forward in convincing style and Scum Half Mike Lawton picked up from the base and sniped through the defence to score underneath the posts giving the visitors a 7-0 lead following the conversion.
It wasn't long before the Sappers were crossing the Try line once more. They were looking comfortable in the scrum and caused another turnover, driving the Infantry off the ball inside their own 22, to pick up from the base, and after shipping the ball nicely it was Lawton again who finished the move and touched down for the score, 12-0.
The Sappers were looking comfortable and were soon back inside the Infantry half putting on the pressure. The forwards were doing an excellent job in the scrum to set up a good platform to attack. From once such scrum the ball was shipped out well, firstly from Fly Half Tom Best, with Full Back Steff Wilson also getting in on the action cutting a good line to split the defence and then deliver a great pass to 'Sixes' Railoa on the Wing to finish a great move and score in the corner, 17-0.
Despite the early pressure and scores from the Engineers, the Infantry came back showing glimpses and threatening to score themselves. Their backs showed good pace, however they were unable to find the clinical pass to finish off their moves, turning over the ball on several occassions.
The Sappers made sure to punish their opponents for missed opportunities and came back with another score after blocking an attempted chip through the defence. The loose ball was pounced on inside the Infantry 22 and the Engineer pack drove forward well, before Tiff Barker peeled off to score underneath the posts for another Try which was converted by Best to bring the score to 24-0.
The Sappers weren't done scoring yet and began another good attack with their Full Back, Wilson, who collected a high ball and made good ground into the Infantry half. The ball was moved quickly to the left to exploit space and after a series of great handling and off loads, it was Lawson once again on hand to finish the move off and score his Hat-Trick, bringing the score to 31-0 which is how it remained going into half time.
The Infantry came out and started the Second half well, putting togther a good spell inside the Engineers half. They were unable to come away with any points however and the Sappers soon set about trying to add to their own tally.
The Backs and Forwards combined well to drive upfield, using their pace on the wing as well as driving well through the middle of the Infantry defence, keeping the momentum going until they got inside the Red Zone and exploited space on the outside to allow Sapper Winger 'P' to cross over for a deserved Try 38-0.
The Sappers added one more score as the game entered its latter stages. From a lineout inside the Infantry 22, they moved the ball nicely across the pitch before Tom Best cut brilliantly through the line to stretch the Infantry defence. After more good, quick handling Vee Veikune picked up the ball on the wing and used his pace to get closer to the line before offloading to Jake Campey on his inside to finish another great move stretching the ball over the line to bring the score to 43-0.
Despite the scoreline, the Infantry continued to come back at their opponents and look for the Try that had so far eluded them. It eventually came in the final minute after they turned over the ball on halfway and exploited space on the wing. They shipped it wide and after drawing in the last defender it was substitute Zac 'Yabs' who showed his pace and sprinted downfield and scored in the corner, despite the best efforts of Sapper #8 Joe Mclean.
Overall, it was a fantastic and convinving performance by the Engineers over the Infantry. Sapper Head Coach Mark Reed will no doubt be delighted in the effort shown by his team and the Engineers will look to build on this great performance going into 2016!
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers vs Royal Signals
20th January 2016
The Royal Engineers kicked off 2016 playing host to the Royal Signals, a team that has been steadily on the rise over recent years and more than capable of causing an upset if the Sappers were not on their game.
The hosts finished 2015 well against the Infantry and would look to build on that good performance with another win over the Sigs. Skippered by Vic Reeve upfront, the Sappers fielded a good team with a mix of youth and experience and also nice depth on the bench to come on and make an impact.
The recent cold spell would require some attention to the pitch to ensure it was safe to play and thankfully the sun was out and helped thaw out the ground just enough for the game to go ahead in the pleasant, but crisp, conditions.
The Sappers kicked off and made a breakthrough straight away to take an early lead. A clearing kick from the Signals gave the Sappers an attacking lineout on the 22 metre line. After winning the lineout, the Sappers picked and drove the ball towards the try line and from a few metres out, Scrum Half Mike Lawton sold a great dummy pass and took advantage of a gap in the defence to sneak over the line for the perfect start to the game. The conversion was succssful and the hosts took a quick 7-0 lead.
Things got better for the Sappers moments later when they were awarded a penalty a few metres inside the Signals half and converted nicely to increase their lead to 10-0 inside just a few minutes. They looked to build on the good start and had more opportunities to add to their tally, although they almost gave up a Try themselves when a loose pass was picked up by the Signals #8 who took off with good support. The Sappers worked well to get back and eventually managed to win the ball back inside their 22' and then win a penalty to relieve the pressure.
The Sappers were soon back on the offensive and put together a nice attack to get back into the Signals 22 and almost cross for another Try. From a defensive lineout, Laqekoro broke away from the ensuing maul and gained good yards before offloading to Lawton in support. The ball was then shipped quickly to the wing where the Engineers gained good yards into the Signals half. As the attack continued Nacavamuto, playing Fly Half, broke away from a tackle and the Sappers almost had another score, however the ball was just knocked forward and the Signals held on. The Engineers didn't go away empty handed though as a few minutes later they added another penalty to extend their lead to 13-0 midway through the first half.
Following a good spell from the Sappers, the Signals had a few opportunities of their own to get on the scoreboard but the Engineers defended well, keeping the visitors at bay, and were soon back on the attack themselves setting up another score.
From a lineout just outside the Signals 22, the Sappers put together a nice flowing move, shipping the ball quickly to their backs who connected brilliantly to cut through the defence and set up a Try in the corner which Sam Sema finished off nicely to put themselves in a commanding position up 18-0.
As the clock wound down on the first half, the Engineers found themselves a man down due to a high tackle - with the try scoring Sema the man sent to the Sin Bin. The Signals capitalised straight away on the man advantage and crossed for a Try with the final play of the half, closing the gap to 18-7 following the successful conversion.
As the second half started, the Sappers looked to increase their lead early on and had chances to add to their tally. Nacavamuto played well at Fly Half making some good breaks through the defensive line. Both the forwards and backs were combining well and moving the ball nicely through the hands to put their opponents under pressure, however the Signals defence tightened up and held off the early pressure before turning their sights on closing the gap.
The visitors slowly started to get themselves back in the game and put together a good spell during the second half, with the Sappers giving up several penalties, putting themselves on the back foot. The Signals enjoyed good spells inside the Sapper half but were unable to come away with any points as the Engineers defence did a good job holding them at bay.
As the second half wound down both sides were unable to capitalise on their opportunities and the scoreboard was unchanged entering the games final stages. With under ten minutes to go, the Engineers had another man sent to the Sin Bin and they would have to see out the final moments with 14 men. The visitors were running out of time to get the win but wanted to finish on a high and cross the Try line once more. They put together a nice attack but the Sappers continued their good defensive effort and held them at bay and a Signal knock on brought about the end of the game with the Sappers taking the win 18-7, with the second half ending in a scoreless stalemate.
The Sappers put in a great defensive effort to hold the Signals to just Seven points and looked dangerous in attack, scoring two good tries and kicking well from the tee to pick up the win setting them up for another Corps Final appearance.
The Engineers will have a bye in the next round as the Royal Artillery will be away on Tour and therefore will go straight into the Final looking to defend their title once more.
Keep up to date with Sapperrugby.com for the latest news and for more details on the Corps Final.
Reported By J. Fowke.
Royal Engineers vs Royal Artillery
Army Rugby League 1 Corps Final
The Army Rugby Corps Final 2016 saw the two old rivals go head to head once again, competing for not only the infamous Cannonball, but also the League 1 Corps Trophy, in a re-match of last years event.
Unfortunately for the Sappers it wouldn't be a third successive Final Victory as the Gunners put in a fine performance to take the win, 30-9, holding the Engineers to just three converted Penalties from the boot of James Dixon.
Despite the dissapointing defeat, the Engineers can now look forward to their Tour of New Zealand in May, which will see them take on local military sides on both the North and South Islands - It's sure to be a great few weeks!
Be sure to check back for Tour updates soon - and also be sure to watch Army vs Navy at Twickenham on 30th April which will see several Sappers once again put on the famous Red Jersey! Ubique!