Royal Navy Take Inter-Services Title After RAF Helping Hand

The Royal Navy's rugby league stars have won back their inter-services title without touching a ball in the final game...

The Royal Navy's rugby league stars have won back their inter-services title without touching a ball in the final game.

It comes after the Army failed to beat the RAF in the deciding match of this year's championship at Aldershot.

It was a proud moment for the Navy's Warrant Officer Keith Humpleby, who received the trophy from Army Rugby President Lieutenant General John Lorimer, albeit somewhat unexpectedly.

Navy rugby league inter-services win 2017

The Army knew a win or draw against the RAF would be enough after a 14-12 win over the Navy seven days earlier, but weren't able to produce the goods.

After Micky Hall had been sin-binned last season's champions took full advantage, with Sam Breeze getting an early try.

And the RAF were about to go further into the lead, after a wonderful solo effort from Mark Harper.

Collecting the ball on his own 20-metre line, he outsprinted the entire Army defence to score under the posts. It was an easy conversion for Adam Flintham, leaving the score 10-0.

The Army found their rhythm eventually and were rewarded when Marcus Mercer got to the line for his second try of the tournament.

And the Army carried that momentum into the second half, moving up a couple of gears and piling on the pressure. 

Keiron Roach charged for the line and Micky Hoyle added the extras to level the game, before another brilliant surge, this time from Andy Ward, was again converted by Hoyle to give the Army a six-point lead.

Navy rugby league inter-services win 2017

The RAF were in no mood to be counted out though. Adam Flintham's crossfield kick was collected by Chris Ambro in the corner, before a brilliant conversion from Flintham levelled it at 16-16.

With time ticking away the Army must have thought the game was theirs after Hoyle's boot put them two points ahead from a penalty.

But right at the end there was one last twist. The RAF laid siege to the Army line and there was Breeze again to win the game.

Flintham's conversion made sure, denying the Army and handing the title to the Navy after their 20-point win over the Air Force a fortnight ago.

RAF skipper Corporal James Hutchinson said after the match:

"There's always a bit of extra spice to any inter-services game. They're always tough, they're always physical, they always go down to the wire."

"That's what we enjoy and that's what it's all about... We just wanted to right a few wrongs and get a win under our belt tonight, so we're happy enough with that and congratulations to the Navy."

RAF Air Commodore Dean Andrew, who's President of the Rugby Football League, said:

"When you watch the quality that's on display... All three inter-services games were absolutely suberb."

The Army did have more luck in the other games, however.

The women had an excellent contest with the RAF, which saw the latter stage a remarkable fightback.

At one stage the Army led 38-10, but the air force scored four tries in the last few minutes to fall just short at 38-32.

And the Army also wrapped up the academy title thanks to a 44-14 win over the RAF.

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