UKAF Rugby 69 Georgia 3 – Match Report

Stu Cross - Man of the Match v Georgia Image: © Michael Shaw

11 Sep 2019 - Opening Round IDRC 2019 - GSDF Narashino, Japan

On a hot humid day with temperatures reaching 36 Degrees and 82% humidity, the UK Armed Forces commenced their IDRC 19 Journey with their opening fixture against a hugely physical Georgian Defence Force at Camp Narashino.


Although confident in their own ability, the UKAF team, led by Captain Jamie Miller AAC, were cautious of the Georgian pack, given their fierce national reputation.  And so it came to pass with the Georgians taking the initial upper hand having won the ball from the kick off, they made inroads into the UKAF defence with powerful and strong running and, counter to initial thoughts, the back line made good progress, leading to them taking an early 3-0 lead.


However, this was to be their last foray into UKAF territory as, from the ensuing kick off, the pack, whose performance was typified by barnstorming performances by Scott Makepeace, Rob Bell and Stu Cross, giving the backs front foot ball with James Dixon orchestrating a back line full of pace, power and strong running.

The first breakthrough came from a Toby Evans 30 yard sprint for the try line which came up short, leading to a line out on the 5 yard line which, following a perfectly executed catch and drive gave Toby deservedly the opening score.


From the Kick off, Georgian poor discipline, which got worse as the match progressed, led to a penalty kick from Dixon.


Now dominating both the line out and, more importantly, the scrum, and the UKAF backs finding more and more space, the flood gates opened.  A try from Rob Bell following a great line from Ben Chambers extended the lead to 17-3.  Despite continued warnings from the Referee, who had a great personal performance, the Georgians began to try to kill the ball and were finally penalised with the first yellow card of the game.  This allowed even more space out wide and tries from Gareth Rees and Rob Bell in open play gave UKAF a well deserved half time lead of 31-3.


The second half got off to a stormer with a try from the Kick off by Brad Janes, quickly followed by one from Dan Tooth.  The Head Coach, Lee Soper then began to ring the changes with the introduction of a new front row and Edd Pascoe at 7 with Stu Cross moving to No 8.  Ben Priddey, making an immediate impact began to find a world of space which gave Connor O’Reilly his first IDRC 19 Try.  Ben Chambers and Brad Janes continued to excel and both were rewarded by exceptional scores out wide.


With their tails up, UKAF tried to run the ball from all over the park on any counter attack opportunity, which was rewarded by the final try of the game scored by Ben Chambers making the final score, an impressive 69-3 win.


The Man of the Match decision, decided by the British Defence Attaché, Captain Simon Staley RN, was a close run thing, but was rightfully awarded to Captain Stuart Cross who was presented with a Silver Salver provided by UKAF sponsors SecureCloud+.


An impressive performance given the hostile conditions.  Head Coach Lee Soper said ”going into the game we wanted to make sure the team were prepared properly after the long journey here.  The team were focused and professional in their own preparations.  The game started with a few errors, but the defensive line held strong for the first 10 minutes and then from this the team exploited the space, were patient in getting the scores.  At half time, the support staff were exceptional in treating the players given the intensity of the heat and the effects on the players.   I’m pleased that all the players got on the field as I’ve said, this is a 27 man effort for the whole competition.  We now analyse the game to ensure we are ready for the next challenge.”


Director of Rugby Doc Cox added “The score line reflected the hard work the guys have put in on the training paddock over the last couple of days, thanks to the meticulous preparation from the coaches, medical and TSG. Now the hard work begins as we prepare for the next match”.


So, the team now progress to the Semi Final in Camp Asaka, to be held on 19 Sep 19 at Camp Asaka at 1130 against the winners of France versus the home nation Japan.


Team list: Smith, Philpott, Manning, Makepeace, Parkins, Cross, Bell, Miller (Capt), Rees, Dixon, Chambers, Tooth, Janes, O’Reilly, T Evans Reps: Priddey, Dowding, Harris, Heath, Pascoe. M Evans, Fatiaki, Huntley

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