The Royal Navy's young rugby players have put themselves in contention to win a third successive inter-services title.

They brushed past the Royal Air Force, scoring seven tries in a 43-7 win at RAF Halton.

It leaves all to play for in the final match against the Army, who themselves beat the RAF 19-13 in Aldershot last week.

It was ultimately a comfortable win for the Navy's Under-23 side, which boasted 10 of its title-winning stars from last year.

Royal Navy Under-23 rugby win vs RAF, 2017
Royal Marine Dan Mason put his experience in last year's competition to good use

They dominated early play, being quickest to adapt to the windy conditions on the Chilterns, before notching an inevitable first try with a simple move.

Scrum-half Gareth Rees fed Eldon Myers to score in the corner before Rees kicked over an excellent conversion for 7-0.

Two further tries followed to give the dark blues a big advantage with the wind.

From the scrum all the backs got involved, with Rees feeding full-back Jackson Ackerman before Brad Janes joined the party and James Griggs went over for the first of what would be three tries.

Royal Navy Under-23 rugby win vs RAF, 2017

Minutes later the Navy couldn't believe their luck, after Aaran Matthews' RAF lineout sailed past everyone and Jarrard Hayler pounced to take full advantage. 

Rees' conversion gave the Senior Service a 19-0 lead at the break.

After the break, the home support was hoping their team would take advantage of the blustery conditions, but instead the Navy surged further ahead.

Daniel Rutter brilliantly created their fourth try before Ben Jeacock charged under the posts and Rees claimed the extras for 26-0.  

Moments later it was put out of the RAF's reach when Griggs ran riot through their defence for his second try.

Royal Navy Under-23 rugby win vs RAF, 2017
The Royal Navy's young stars had too much for the RAF

And the unstoppable tide of dark blue just kept coming when Janes collected Rutter's kick to score the Navy's sixth try, successfully converted by Rees.

The seventh try followed the same path down the right wing, with the power of Engineering Technician James Griggs once again too much for the Air Force, as he completed a notable hat-trick.

The RAF had shown some flair in the match and it was rewarded right at the end, when Sean Chapman collected a loose ball and evaded all the Navy's attentions to score a mere consolation for the RAF, who'd been outgunned.

James West's conversions gave them seven points - the Navy, though, comfortable 43-7 winners. Team captain, Air Engineering Technician (AET) Scott Makepeace, was delighted:

"We didn't want to come here and scrape it. We wanted to come and here and put [in] a dominant performance."

"We knew it was going to be physical. We knew their defence was going to be good, so our fitness had to be there... It's good to see."

Assistant manager AET Ben Watson said: "[I'm] ecstatic really. [It was an] absolutely amazing performance.

So it was about as emphatic a victory as you could expect in these championships, with the Navy absolutely dominant.

They'll now want to finish the job against the Army at Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, next week.

With thanks to the Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton for photography.

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