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Royal Engineers RFC Tour to New Zealand 2016

Royal Engineers vs New Zealand Infantry, 16th May 2016


The Royal Engineers kicked off their Tour of New Zealand with a tough opening encounter against the New Zealand Infantry at Burnham Camp, Christchurch. The Sappers are unbeaten on Tour dating back to 1997 and they were fully intent on keeping their record intact, but knew they would be up against strong opposition in all three tour matches.

After a very wet morning the clouds cleared in time for kick off, although a strong wind would make conditions difficult for both sides. The visitors would be kicking into the wind during the first half as Full Back Steff Wilson got the game underway.

The New Zealand Infantry started well and were soon applying pressure inside the Sapper half but the visitors did well to repel the pressure with a succession of penalties given against the Infantry allowing the Sappers to clear their lines.

The Engineers then began to apply pressure themselves and from a turnover inside the Infantry half, the Engineers spread the ball across the pitch and worked their way closer to the try line.  They worked the ball with the forwards and came close on a number of occasions before finally crossing the line with scrum half Mike Lawton sniping from close distance. Wilson provided the conversion after an excellent drop goal, 7-0.

The Engineers added another three points after a successful Penalty attempt from Wilson, with the Infantry replying soon after the following kick off, winning a penalty from a scrum in front of the posts to bring the score to 10-3.

A few minutes later, the Sappers were back inside the Infantry 22 and working the ball well with the forwards again. The Infantry defence did well to keep the visitors out and managed to turn the ball over and using the wind at their back they cleared their lines. After chasing back, Engineer skipper Tom Best was caught and isolated with the ball which was then turned over. The Infantry pounced and saw their opportunity to score and despite some good covering tackles, the home side provided good support and the Full Back collected the ball to run in for the Try, 10-8.

The Engineers replied well, firstly adding another penalty before going on the attack again to win the ball against the head of a scrum just outside the Infantry 22. From there they shipped the ball through the hands and created space which Fly Half Tom Best exploited to go over for the score which was converted for a 20-8 lead going into the break.

The Engineers started the second half well and were soon back inside the Infantry half and it wasn’t long before they crossed the whitewash once again, with Jake Campey finishing well to beat two defenders and score, 27-8.

Wilson slotted another penalty to extend the lead to 30-8 before the Infantry came back with a good spell themselves. They were set up with an attacking lineout just inside the Sapper half with the Number 8 peeling off the back of the  maul. He was brought down right on the Try line however just lost control of the ball and the Engineers escaped and eventually cleared their lines.

The hits kept flying in as the second half went on, with both sides playing at a good tempo. The Engineers kept their momentum going and added another Try through Campey, who showed great footwork to beat three defenders to cross the line once again. Following the conversion the visitors extended their lead to 37-8.

Despite the scoreline, the Infantry came back at the Engineers, as expected and made them work right up until the final whistle. They put in some bruising hits and ran hard with the ball however couldn’t find the clinical finish in the red zone and the Sappers kept the hosts at bay for the final part of the game and took the win 37-8, kicking their tour off in style with a great performance.

It’s a short turnaround for the Engineers who travel north to Wellington to take on the Logistic Corps next with just two days to recover before another hard game. Head Coach Mark Reed will be happy with the start but will be hoping for another step up in performance as they look to build on their good start.

Royal Engineers vs NZ Logistical Corps


Game two of the Royal Engineers Tour of New Zealand saw them take on the New Zealand Logistic Corps at Trentham Camp, Wellington. Following their win over the Infantry on Monday, the Sappers had just two days recovery, including a days travel from Christchurch to Wellington, before they would be back in action against a strong Logistic Corps team.

Head Coach Mark Reed made several changes, with a handful of players unavailable due to injury in the first outing. Skipper of the day was given to Centre Matthew Hemmings, making his first appearance on Tour providing plenty of passion and flair.

Conditions were good as the two sides took to the pitch with the hosts providing a pre game Haka before the Sappers got the game underway.

The visitors had some good early pressure inside the Logistic Corps half however were unable to capitalise thanks to good defence which forced errors and turnovers allowing them to clear their lines. Following a clearing kick from the Engineers the Logistic Corps back line took advantage of space in front of them and countered. The Full Back showed great pace and vision to break through the defensive line and then pass to his left to let the winger finish the move by crossing in the corner for the opening Try, 0-5.

The Sappers looked to answer with a score of their own and threatened in phases, with Joe McLean carrying well and driving through defenders and Mercer on the Wing also showed good pace, however the errors continued and they were soon under pressure once more.

After losing their line out inside their own half, the Sappers defence was tested once more. The hosts pounded the ball right down the middle of the pitch before their prop found a gap and then set the Winger free once again to run in his second Try of the game, in the corner, 0-10.

The Sappers kicked a penalty moments after the ensuing kick off through the boot of the ever reliable Steff Wilson, however the gap was soon back to ten points as the hosts replied with a Penalty kick of their own, 3-13.

The Engineers continued to carry well, with McLean, Hemmings and Bowman all making good yards through the defence and they were awarded another penalty, which was slotted through by Wilson bringing the score to 6-13.

The Logistic Corps defence was holding up well and repelling the Sappers attacks and despite their possession the visitors were left frustrated, as they couldn’t find the clinical finish to cross the Try line. The Engineers would soon come to rue their missed chances as the Logistic Corps added a further two tries before the half time break. Within minutes of each other the hosts scored through their inside Centre and Full Back, with the latter finishing off an excellent move which saw the Loggies break from inside their 22 and offloading superbly to the supporting runner to score and excellent Try. As the referee blew for half time the game seemed to be over with the Logistic Corps holding a commanding lead, 6-25 at the break.

Despite the score line, the Sappers came out firing for the second half and wanted to show their hosts their strength in character and determination to get back into the game.

It didn’t get off to the best of starts however with young Fly Half Tom O’Rourke having to come off with injury after a good first half showing. Jake Campey replaced him at 10 and the Engineers looked to start the fight back.

Following early pressure form the Logistic Corps, the Engineers came back and eventually got their Try. From a scrum inside their 22, the Logistic Corps Scrum Half passed back to the #10 who lost control of the ball which then rolled into the goal area and chasing Sapper Skipper, Hemmings, was on hand to touch down for the Try before the Fly Half could recover the ball, 13-25.

The Engineer team, and bench, were fired up and were back on the front foot immediately, with Campey and Hemmings hooking up well to break through the defence around midfield. After more pressure the hosts gave away a penalty and Wilson added another three points reducing the deficit to 16-25.

It had so far been a bruising encounter with both sides not wanting to give an inch, with plenty of big hits being made. The Sappers were in the ascendency but the hosts came back with spells of their own trying to put the game to bed. Things got more exciting when the visitors added another score. Scrum half Bradley Cannon made an excellent break and the supporting Wilson and Substitute winger, Petueli combined well to finish off a great move bringing the score to 23-25, with just minutes to go.

The game was there for the taking after an excellent fight back from the touring side. The hosts had a chance to add another penalty soon after however the kick was pushed wide and the Sappers had one final shot to take the win. Despite being deep in their own half they kept the ball in hand and tried to find a gap to exploit. The Logistic Corps defence held up well however and stayed disciplined eventually forcing a mistake as a forward pass handed over possession and with it the game as the referee shortly blew for Full Time handing the Sappers their first Tour loss, 23-25.

Despite the result the Engineers can hold their heads high after an excellent come back in the second half. It was another bruising encounter as expected and despite the short turn around from Game 1 the Sappers rallied and earned the respect of their opposition.

Next up the Sappers travel further north to take on the New Zealand Engineers in the final tour match. It is sure to be a great contest between the two Sapper teams.


Royal Engineers vs Royal New Zealand Engineers


Linton 25/5/16

The final game of the Royal Engineers tour to New Zealand saw them travel up to Linton to take on the NZ Sappers. The touring side had already come through two gruelling matches, however this was the big one and both sides wanted to take the victory in this special game.

Like the Royal Engineers, The New Zealand Sappers have very successful history and they are current Champions of their Corps League so it would be no easy task for the visitors. Head Coach Mark Reed was able to bolster his squad with players returning from injury and after a good build up of training the stage was set.

Conditions were horrendous for both sides following a storm and plenty of rain overnight continuing right up until kick off. The pitch was very boggy under foot, which would make life difficult for the backs to run – although the conditions were ideal for the forwards to play some good old-fashioned rugby!















Thankfully the rain had come to a stop moments before kick off and after an impressive pre game Haka from the NZ Sappers the hosts got the game underway. Unfortunately for the Royal Engineers they were dealt a blow within seconds of the kick off after second row Tom Turnock had an unfortunate collision and had to come off with a serious cut to the face, ending his impressive tour.

It was a difficult start as both sides tried to adapt to the conditions as best they could. The NZ Sappers were in the ascendency early and had some good territory to put their opponents under pressure. After a good spell, the hosts scored the game’s opening Try following a nice lineout inside the RE 22 form which they drove well as a pack before breaking off, with a penalty advantage, and after a couple more phases the Scrum Half sniped well from close distance to cross the line, leading 0-7.

The Royal Engineers replied immediately however after gaining good territory. From a lineout deep inside the NZ Engineers half they got the driving maul working well and won a penalty which Steff Wilson stepped up to take and slotted through nicely closing the gap to 3-7.

The visitors came back with another good spell, however handling errors crept in as the rain came back. Following a scrum inside the NZ Sappers 22, the tourists used the forwards well gaining good ground before young Fly Half Tom O’Rourke saw some space behind the defence and chipped through nicely for Centre Jake Campey to chase and touch down for a well worked Try, 10-7.

The Royal Engineers were starting to take a hold of the game and enjoyed more good spells inside the NZ Sappers half and soon slotted through another penalty, through Wilson, to extend their lead to 13-7.

As expected, the NZ Sappers gathered themselves and came back at their opponents and had chances to reply however they were unable to capitalise with the conditions playing a key role for both sides as handling became a big issue when trying to exploit space on the wings. The score remained 13-7 going into the break as two mud covered teams headed for the changing rooms.








As the two sides came back out, the visitors got the game back underway and were soon extending their lead. Following an early penalty they kicked for the corner and executed a perfect driving maul, with Number 8 Ledua Jope controlling well with the ball in hand. The pack drove forwards and eventually crossed the try line allowing Jope to simple touch the ball down for a Try, 20-7.

The NZ Sappers came back and made good yards up the filed, capitalising on some poor discipline from the Royal Engineers winning several penalties early on. With conditions proving difficult, the hosts took to the air to try and gain some yards through the boot and put the RE defence under pressure. They made good ground into the RE half and their persistence was rewarded with a second Try. From a scrum just to the right of the posts, the NZ Sapper 8 popped the ball up for the Scrum Half to exploit a gap in the defence on the short side. Showing good pace he cut through the line and crossed for the Try to close the gap once more, 20-12.

The Royal Engineers looked to respond straight away and put together a good series of phases. The forwards drove well with a good sequence of ‘pick and goes’ and made some good yards. After winning a penalty at a scrum Wilson stepped up once more to convert the kick and increase the lead to 23-12.




















The game opened up slightly as both sides kicked well to put the other under pressure. It was the hosts who came closest to scoring next as they put together a driving maul which made good ground before shipping the ball wide to the backs. Unfortunately for them they were unable to convert the opportunity into points but they continued to threaten the visitors.

As time wound down, the Royal Engineers looked to have the game under control. There was just time for one more score however as the Sappers looked to seal an impressive win. After a catch and drive from a lineout inside the NZ Sappers 22, the visitors were set up with good position and as the ball was shipped to Fly Half O’Rourke, he spotted a gap and cut past his defender brilliantly to cross for a deserved Try to extend the tourists lead. Steff Wilson slotted the final kick of the game to keep his 100% conversion rate on Tour, bringing the score to 30-12 at full time.

Despite the difficult conditions, both sides put in an impressive display in what was a very special fixture for the two clubs. We thank the New Zealand Sappers for their hospitality and for a great game bringing the Sapper Tour of New Zealand to a close.

After a fantastic two and a half weeks, the Sappers return to the UK with a 2-1 record in New Zealand after three fantastic, albeit bruising encounters! Thank you to everyone for your hospitality during our stay, in particular our LO Mike ‘Spider’ Spicer for organising such a great experience whilst in NZ. We had a brilliant Tour and look forward to hopefully welcoming a touring New Zealand Sappers team in the near future!

Also thank you to Howard 'Clas' Chamberlain (RNZE Historian) for the fantastic Match and Post Match Images.










RE vs NZ Infantry
RE vs NZ Logistic Corps
RE vs NZ Engineers
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