Forces Youngsters Share Spoils After Thrilling Tie

The Army Under-23 rugby side have forged an unlikely comeback against the RAF, in a closely fought inter-services game at RAF Halton. With...

The Army Under-23 rugby side have forged an unlikely comeback against the RAF, in a closely fought inter-services game at RAF Halton.
With past contests having always been tight affairs, the two development sides suggested this would be no different in the first half.
An early penalty by the RAF's James West gave them the lead, with the Army levelling things off before the break. Nothing had suggested the open contest that was about to unfold afterwards.
First the RAF regained the lead. The Army then replied immediately, with the RAF failing to stop winger Frank Boginiskoko from diving into the corner.
But the Air Force responded with two more tries - an interception from James West was stopped in its tracks, but the RAF made full use of the space they had, with skipper Jack Haywood-Thompson feeding Nick Slaney the ball to make it 13-8.
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And the light blues then gave themselves a great chance of taking the game, when full-back Winnell charged through the Army defence, his momentum carrying him to the line for a third try and a score of 18-8.
The Army then took control, scoring a try to bring them right back into the contest with a score of 18-13.
They kept up the pressure on their hosts, this time working an opening on the right - a super pass from Dan Coombs freeing full-back Marcus Mercer, who gratefully accepted the opportunity.
The Army had the better of the chances to win the game, but the RAF defence held strong to keep them out.
They could have snatched it right at the end, but an 18-18 draw was about the right result.
Army U 23 Skipper Fusilier Dean Murphy said of his team:
"I can't fault the boys' effort - they've put it in, done really well... The RAF have put up a good fight. They've come a long way since we played them in the last two years, on their home ground. Can't fault them - [we] had an awesome game against them."
Meanwhile, RAF U 23 Skipper, SAC Jack Haywood-Thompson, was equally complimentary about the Army:
"We knew the Army were going to come down and [that it would be] a physical game. I think, defensively... we ploughed ourselves in, we managed to match them - but at the end of the day, really well played. [I think the Army] had an outstanding game."
The RAF will be playing the Royal Navy next week.
A draw would be enough for the Navy to retain the U-23 title, with the Army having only one point to show for their campaign, but there's very little difference between the three development rugby teams this season.