Army men’s rookies stand tall

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By Michael Brooke
ARMY beat Air Force 29-12 in convincing fashion in their opening match of the 2014 Australian Services Rugby Championships in Sydney on May 18. Army opened the scoring in the fifth minute through rugged prop Capt Jason Squires, of 5 Avn Regt, but Cpl Brendan Bowring, of 2RAR, missed the conversion. Army dominated the line-outs and made easy metres through their backline, with Bdr Jarred Bassett, of 1RTB, Cfns Tim Wikaira and Logan Chin, both of 6 Avn Regt, posting tries for a 24-7 half-time lead. The second half was a torrid affair that featured hard running and punishing tackling by both teams. Fleet-footed centre Cfn Jeremy Nelson, of 6 Avn Regt, scored a slick try with 20 minutes on the clock, to extinguish any hope Air Force had of an improbable comeback victory. However, with an eye on the clock and concern about avoiding unnecessary injuries before the decider against Navy, Army conceded a consolation try to Air Force in the dying minutes of play. In the match against Navy, Army’s team of rookie players were taken down in a nail-biting defeat. With 17 players making their debut in the team, Army played well beyond their experience level to race to a 16-5 lead over Navy at half-time. Army appeared on track for a 28-24 triumph after half-back Lt Tony Luxford, of 145 Sig Sqn, sliced through the defence with only six minutes remaining. But from the restart Navy’s pack of monster forwards battered their way up field, to enable their team captain to score the matchwinner with only two minutes on the clock, to beat Army 31-28. Army coach Lt-Col Peter Conroy, of 3 Bde, said he was extremely proud of what his players achieved in the competition and the courage they showed against Navy. “I thought we had it won when Lt Luxford scored, but Navy got lucky right at the end,” he said. “That was one of the best displays of rugby by Army that I can remember, particularly as the squad included 17 new players. “This was the youngest Army rugby team in 15 years, and they should be very proud of what they have achieved, and very confident of the success they will achieve in the future.” Army’s pacey winger and sharpshooting goal-kicker, Pte Mahn Darley, of 1CSSB, scored two tries, three conversions and two penalty goals, but unfortunately it still wasn’t enough to get his side home. The rugby championships were played at Sydney’s David Phillips Sports Field from May 18-24. As a result of Army’s strong performance they had 11 players selected for the ASRU representative team: Lt Tony Luxford, Cfn Jason Moylan, Sgt Scott Ashurst, Capt Jason Squires, Cfn Jeremy Nelson, Cfn Nathan Diedrichs, Lt Matt Hamill, Cpl Joven Clarke, Pte Matthew Nixon, OCdt Jared Lewthwaite and Cpl Josh Gray.

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