2013 Australian Services Rugby Championship: Day 1 (12 May)
The 2013 Australian Services Rugby Championships kicked off on Sunday with three matches showcasing the rugby union talents of the Defence Force’s men and women.
A glorious day greeted players and spectators at Victoria Barracks in Sydney, with all teams demonstrating that rugby is ‘alive and well’ throughout the three Services.
Match 1: Army Women v Newcastle, won by Newcastle 24-5. The majority of match was dominated by the highly accomplished Newcastle team, which has won the NSW Country Women’s title for the past seven years in a row. Apparently Newcastle has kept their opposition try-less for the past four years – if that is the case, it’s great to see the Army Women achieving a rare feat by crossing the line for a try. Despite the loss, it was a good opportunity for Army to ‘blow out the cobwebs’ ahead of next Saturday’s match against the Combined Navy/Air Force team. There were lots of new faces in the Army line up and it was noted that a few of the big names weren’t available for the Newcastle match. Returning for next Saturday’s match will be Army’s Wallaroos prop, Caroline Vakalahi and seasoned Army and ASRU lock, Mollie Gray. ASRU’s chief selector was impressed by Vashti Hendersen and Sara Petchell (both played in Army’s front row).
Photo (NIU-E): Army player tackled by Newcastle player
Match 2: Air Force Women v Navy Women, won by Air Force 49-0. The score line speaks for itself - it was Air Force domination for start to finish, with nine tries being scored by the women in sky blue. The record margin was Air Force’s third annual victory on the trot against Navy. Some spectators may say that a star was born as they watched the remarkable debut of Air Force’s outside back, Rachel Crothers from ADFA, who scored five tries and was simply unstoppable. She has speed to burn and was able to break tackles with relative ease. This is apparently her first crack at rugby union. We can’t wait to see how she goes next Saturday - watch out Army! There has already been talk that Rachel Crothers shows the potential to eventually compete for a position in the Australian Pearls 7s team at the 2016 Olympics – that’s a big call but you heard it here, first.
Photo (NIU-E): Rachel Crothers from Air Force on her way to scoring one of her five tries
Photo (NIU-E): Rebekah Allen from Air Force in possession and on the charge
Match 3: Navy Men v Air Force Men, won by Navy 27-13. It was an enjoyable spectacle and a close, hard fought contest. There was talk on the sideline that this might be Air Force’s year to topple Navy, and it certainly looked a possibility for much of the match. Air Force had plenty of possession and territorial advantage during the first half but they couldn’t convert pressure into points. Navy rallied and their experience showed, especially in their tight five and outside backs, which enabled them to capitalise on the few scoring opportunities they had. Two tries to Navy late in the second half put the result beyond doubt. The fact that Air Force played with 14 men for 20 minutes of the match (due to two yellow cards) definitely didn’t help their cause. It’s fair to say that lapses in discipline and composure probably cost Air Force any real chance of victory but it was arguably their most competitive performance in several years – they tackled with determination, all day. That being said, Navy certainly deserved their victory. Navy’s lineout dominance, counter rucking, and wide breaks were highlights. The ASRU Coach was impressed by Jason Harrington, Dwight Sheperd and Shayne O’Reilly from Navy, and Robbie Harlow, Chris Schulz and Peatrie Birney from Air Force.
Photo (NIU-E): Navy on the charge from a scrum
Photo (NIU-E): Another safe grab from Navy’s dominant line out – no.5, Adam Sargent
Photo (NIU-E): Navy hooker, Tait O’Sullivan halts the charge of Air Force no. 8, Ryan Keep
The tournament’s next match will be played at Coogee Oval on Wednesday – Army Men v Air Force Men. Kick off is 1500h.
Tournament point of contact: LTCOL Adam Boyd, mob: 0411 886 254
Navy Imagery Unit – East contact number: (02) 9359 3039