United Kingdom Armed Forces Rugby take on Bristol United.
On a clear and chilly night at Ashton Gate, the UKAF men took on Bristol United in the Annual Remembrance Day Game.
Prior to kick off, a poignant Act of Remembrance took place pitch side, supported by Buglers from 1st Bn The Rifles, cadets from the Air Training Corps and the Standards of the local Royal British Legion branches.
Right from the off, it was clear that neither team were prepared to give any quarter. Hard running and crashing contacts characterised the first few minutes of play, forcing Bristol to make an early substitution for injury. However in the 14th minute Bristol broke clear and crossed the line with Hughes touching down; followed by a simple conversion.
UKAF struggled to develop early cohesion and 5 minutes later Perkins crossed the whitewash for Bristol for another 7 points. This acted as a catalyst for the UKAF team, who started playing as a single unit, and in minute 28 LSgt Matt Dwyer scored with Cpl James Dixon adding the extra 2 points. Not to be outdone, Bristol came back hard for the remainder of the half and right on halftime Newey scored for the home team and converted to put Bristol into a comfortable lead of 21 – 7 as Tom Foley blew for the end of the half.
The second 40 minutes saw a transformed UKAF team. Within 5 minutes of the re-start Cpl Toby Mann had scored, leaving Dixon to convert. This opened the flood gates and with renewed confidence the UKAF team went on a bit of a rampage, with captain, Flying Officer Rob Bell being the next to score, teeing Dixon up for another conversion.
Head coach, WO2 Gareth Evans, started bringing the finishers on, and with fresh legs and lungs they continued to attack the Bristol line, with Sgt Nathaneal Titchard-Jones going over for 5 points, again with Dixon converting.
Not to be left out LCpl Chris Leathem broke through and scored under the posts to give Dixon another easy conversion.
Three-quarters of the way through the half play stuck around the centre of the pitch, with Bristol attempting to push through or around the UKAF defence. It took until minute 75 for Bristol to put up a great cross field kick to within 7 metres of the UKAF line that was gathered up by the right wing and grounded in-goal. Unfortunately the long range conversion wasn’t completed leaving UKAF with a commanding 26 – 35 lead.
UKAF, undeterred by Bristol’s break-out try, began a new onslaught on the Bristol line. Cpl Lewis Bean went over for a final try in the 79th minute, leaving Dixon a comfortable conversion, just as the final whistle blew.
Final score 26 – 42 in favour of UKAF in a game that was characterised by free-flowing, disciplined and entertaining rugby. Man of the Match was judged to be Sig John Davetanivalu, and after he had received his spoils, Admiral Paddy McAlpine, Chairman of UKAF Rugby took the opportunity to present UKAF caps to 12 players who had made their debut.
UKAF team: Sgt Titchard-Jones, LSgt Dwyer, LCpl Budgen, Musn Pascoe, Cpl Lewis*, L(AS) Matavesi*, Fg Offr Bell (Capt), Cpl Fairbrother, NA (AH) Moore*, Cpl Dixon, Cpl Mann*, Sig Fatiaki*, LSgt Hiscock*, Sig Davetanivalu*, LCpl Leathem
Replacements: Fg Offr Philpott, Cpl Smith*, LCpl Hamilton*, Cpl Parkins*, Cpl Dawson, Cpl Evans*, Mne Huntley*, Bdr Davies
* = new cap
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Images by Alligin Photography / © Lee Crabb, words by Marcus Monier-Williams