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Army May 26, 2011
In a league
of their own
By Tim Asher
ARMY Thunder took interservice
rugby league to a new level by com-
prehensively beating Navy 52-6 in
the Patrons' Cup at Robina on the
Gold Coast on May 6.
For the first time, the NRL chose
the cup match as the curtain raiser to
the Anzac Test between Australia and
Army coach Sgt Scott Clarke said
his team arrived well prepared and con-
fident, despite losing the Combined
Armed Services Rugby League
(CASRL) tournament to Navy earlier
in the year, after leading that match by
"We came into camp on Tuesday
morning and laid out a game plan
which we practised through the week
and the boys stuck to it for basically 80
minutes of football," Sgt Clarke said.
"Our discipline was to a much high-
er standard, and that showed on the
football field and on the scoreboard."
Army started its attack from the
kick-off when the Navy prop stepped
on to the deadball line. From the drop-
out Army was awarded a penalty for
a high tackle, right in front, and, in a
display of the attacking confidence to
follow, decided to take the tap. After
an ensuing loss of possession by both
sides, at the three-minute mark Cpl
Mick Hamer scored for Army 10m
from the posts. Fullback and man of
the match Pte Mahn Darley, converted,
giving Army a 6-0 lead.
A penalty to Army after the restart
again gave the Thunder territorial
advantage, and on the fourth, pivot and
former Wests Tigers NRL player Pte
Keith Eshman rolled the ball into the
in-goal, leading to a repeat set. Army
continued this pattern over the next
three sets, receiving the ball from line
drop outs and draining the Navy defen-
sive reserves, which resulted in a bril-
liant individual try to Pte Eshman, with
the conversion taking the score to 12-0.
With the weight of possession
Army began using the ball, with the
halves feeding the backline and consist-
ently finding runners on the fringes.
Tries to Gnr Chad Jensen and for-
mer South Sydney first grader Pte
Jovan Clarke took Army out to a 24-0
lead before Navy fought back through
lock LS Steven Swanson, who stole
the ball in a one-on-one tackle close to
the line and dived over in the corner to
score Navy's only four-pointer.
Navy centre AB Matt Docker slot-
ted the goal from the sideline, and it
looked like the comeback Navy mount-
ed in the recent CASRL tournament
final was on again.
Army had to defend the Tridents'
onslaught for the next three sets, until
the half-time siren sent the teams to the
sheds, Army leading 24-6.
Defending their lead in the second
half, the Army forwards worked tire-
lessly to repel the sailors, who pushed
up through the middle with one-out
Attacking the Navy line, Army half
Cpl Chad Gill put the ball in the air,
and as Pte Clarke began the chase, he
was taken out by a Navy player, who
was sent off for the indiscretion.
Army took advantage of the extra
player, running in six tries and five con-
versions in the second half, with Pte
Marley kicking eight from nine con-
versions for the match and Pte Clarke
scoring another two tries, one an 80m
sprint down the touchline to score in
Sgt Clarke said he was pleased with
the effort, especially from his forwards.
"Pte Eshman guided us around the
park and made our outside guys look
good and work hard, but, in saying
that I put the challenge out to the big
boys up front, I called them The Big
Red Machine, and they certainly took
it forward and laid the platform for
Pte Darley was equally pleased with
the team's effort
"This was the best experience I have
ever had in my life," he said.
"We stuck to our game plan, which
was to dominate the middle."
Army team captain Cpl Pat Inskip
said it was one of the best results he
had been involved with.
"I've been playing with Army rugby
league for the past five years and that
was the closest I have seen the team.
"Everyone worked hard and put in
for each other, and that's what made it
such a special experience."
Major victory: Cfn Mick Cunningham, 3CER, attempts to dodge the Navy defence during the Patrons' Cup match at Robina on the Gold Coast. Inset,
the boys celebrate after thrashing Navy 52-6.
Photos by Capt Pat O'Neill
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