Pitched Battle: Army Through To Second Round After Aldershot Scrap

The Army has made it through to round two of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, seeing off Milford Marlins 48-10 in a feisty encounter in...

The Army has made it through to round two of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, seeing off Milford Marlins 48-10 in a feisty encounter in Aldershot. 

The big win came despite several on-pitch fights between the forces outfit and the Leeds-based side, which saw punches thrown.

The military men ran in eight tries, with the first coming inside 10 minutes as Michael Hoyle burst clear and rounded the full-back to canter home for a converted score.

Soon after the visitors were reduced to 12 men, after Marlins prop John Elkington and the Army's George Clarke became involved in a scuffle.

The former was ultimately sent to the sin-bin, with the forces side adding a penalty to their total to lead 8-0.

Surprisingly, however, it was while they were down a player that Milford played their best rugby.

Some quick hands saw Mark Judge squeeze over at the corner for an unconverted try.

Minutes later and restored to a full complement, the Yorkshiremen again threatened.

On this occasion, luck conspired against the military men, bouncing kindly into the arms of Dwayne McCray claim a converted try and put his team 10-8 ahead.

Army Challenge Cup 2018 win vs Milford Marlins

Barely a minute later, however, the Army had bundled its way back in front.

Dan Turner showed good strength to get over the line for his team's second converted try.

Gradually, the Army was beginning to pull away. Another penalty followed before the players put some width on the ball for a third try, which saw Lawrence Hamzat pirouetting through a number of would-be tacklers to extend the lead.

And there was still time just before the break for the Army to claim another try after Hamzat was given the chance to run from deep, putting the forces side 26-10 up.

The second half saw the Army take total control. This time Peter Holmes took advantage of the bounce of the ball to notch a fifth try, with an easy score under the posts.

Matters then went from bad to worse for Milford. As the team's hopes of staying in the cup evaporated, so too did its discipline.

Army Challenge Cup 2018 win vs Milford Marlins

One yellow for Joe Ramsden was quickly followed by a second for stand-off Zac Snellgrove (above), which was then upgraded to a red after some unsavoury backchat, leaving the visitors down to 11 men.

A few minutes later, the game momentarily slipped into chaos.

Army skipper Chris Lopez failed to cover himself in glory when his alleged bite on an opponent's finger sparked something close to a bar-room brawl.

While the majority of players involved were acting as peacemakers, punches were thrown.

Once calm had been restored, Spain international Lopez saw red, with Elkington hot on his heels, having received his marching orders too.

The remainder of the match featured Hamzat completing his hat-trick of tries, with the pick a scorching length-of-the-pitch effort, outpacing the defence to put the Army out of reach.

Holmes was then on hand to claim his second try, after Marcus Mercer put his team-mate clear to finish in the corner.

Another long-range effort concluded the try-scoring. This time Hoyle showed the battle-weary Marlins a clean pair of heels, ghosting home for a 48-10 victory and putting the Army into the second round.

Head Coach Warrant Officer Class 2 Ben Taylor told Forces Network:

"I'm just hoping for a home draw... [We've] got to assess all the injuries, make sure we've got a full-strength side and just build for the next fixture."

Elsewhere the Royal Navy suffered a heartbreaking 12-11 defeat at the hands of Normanton Knights in Portsmouth.

The scores were level at 11-11 after 80 minutes, but the Knights scored a 'golden' drop goal in extra time to go through.

But the Army join the RAF in the hat for the second round after the Air Force saw off Drighlington 12-4 at RAF Cranwell.

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