Rugby Union

Remembrance Rugby: UKAF Win Late Against Rugby For Heroes

A last-gasp try sealed a memorable comeback win for the military men over the Rugby for Heroes Barbarians.

The UK Armed Forces (UKAF) Rugby Union team have won the 2019 Remembrance fixture after a dramatic comeback against a Rugby For Heroes Barbarians (R4H) team in Bristol.

The military players were down by 26 points in the first half, but an inspired second-half performance saw them take the spoils with a late try, winning 29-26. 

Ashton Gate witnessed a strong start from a star-studded R4H side, complete with players on the Premiership's books as little as two years ago.

Team chemistry proved most important for the UKAF side, recently back from Japan as runners up in the International Defence Rugby Competition.

Tough West Country conditions were handled far better by R4H, Australian international Julian Salvi piercing through loose turf and a flat-footed UKAF defence - scrum-half Paul Knight providing the final touch.

Soon after, the lineout proved a faulty tower for the military men - a missed ball mopped up by Aly Muldowney, who rumbled over for the second. Sam Bedlow collected both conversions for a 14-0 lead.

A neat scissor line from Luke Hamilton tore through UKAF for a third, Exeter speedster Matt Jess capping off a fourth. Bedlow was on-target once more for a 26 point lead.  All was not lost before halftime for the Armed Forces side, a heroic try-saving tackle from Brad Janes changing the tide.

Just before half time, a fantastic chip and charge from Ben Chambers caught out the Barbarians, finished by skipper Jamie Miller and converted by James Dixon.

With some points to draw inspiration over half time, UKAF were a different side after the break.

You can watch back the full match below:

A refreshed set of backs fought through the lines, before hooker Joe Brown added another score.

Composure won the day for UKAF's third try - a delicate chip through from Dixon gathered excellently by Rob Heath to cross under the posts. 

With the scores at 19-26, UKAF were beginning to find their groove.

R4H star Salvi fell prey to a monumental hit in a late attempt to dash UKAF hopes, what happened next came as a surprise to most.

Footballer-turned rugby winger Chambers collected the ball, side-stepping the first man and backing his pace down the left flank.

With the chase now on, a chip kick was the only option left. As the ball bounced conveniently for the covering defender, who could only kick the ball straight into Chamber's hands, meaning it was try time.

An uncharacteristic miss from Dixon was more than addressed, the fly-half finding Conor O’Reilly to seal a dramatic comeback and a fittingly memorable win.