Army Men Demolish Air Force Men

Army won the match, 71 – 0, scoring eleven tries, six in the first half and five in the second half. In an 80-minute match, that’s an average of one try every 7 minutes and 16 seconds. Sorry, boys, the girls beat you, today. It was the equal third biggest winning margin by any team in the 35-year history of the Australian Services Rugby Championships (since 1980). The biggest winning margin occurred in 2003 when Army defeated Air Force 97 – 0.

Like the women’s match, Army scored their first try at the 3 minute mark, and their last try in the final minute of the match. Nine of Army’s tries were scored by their backs, the other two tries were scored by loose forwards. Army entered Air Force’s 22m zone on about 15 occasions across the match (another similar statistic to the women’s match); they scored 11 times. On the other hand, Air Force entered Army’s 22m zone on approximately four occasions; once in the first half and three times in the second half. The video replay suggests Air Force flanker, Shaun Connolly, was unlucky to have a try disallowed in the early stage of the second half. He was penalised for not releasing the ball when tackled. Some might argue he was compliant with Law 15.5(g). It would be too easy to tell you what that law was – consult page 97 of the World Rugby Laws of the Game for 2015. The penalty count for the match was around 16 – 8, in favour of Army.

Unlike the women’s match, the Army Men’s team didn’t have it all their own way, despite the scoreboard blow out. There were a few occasions during the match when Air Force displayed some steel, especially in tight play, courtesy of their forwards, and occasionally through the outside backs. There was a 15 minute period during the first half when Army did not enter their attacking 22m zone. That said, let’s not take anything away from Army’s dominance, on the day. They were simply a class above Air Force. Army had speed and flair to burn out wide, the set plays executed by their backs worked very well for most of the match, their centre combination consistently delivered solid punch and penetration, the five eight had a good day in the office (with both the ball and boot), and their backrow trio was superb. It was observed the most even contest probably took place amongst the tight fives from both teams (i.e. props and locks).

Player of the match, based on feedback from the coaching collective, was Army no.8, Trooper Luke Miles. Luke continued his impressive form from Army’s recent Inter-Brigade Competition, with strong ball running in close and out wide, and a tireless work rate. He was highly effective in providing the critical link between forwards and backs. He scored one try, and played a support role in many others. The Army Coach commented that Luke has stepped up to the captaincy role with ease. Blake Hart, Army inside centre, was another stand out performer for Army, particularly noting he’s still learning the game, having converted from rugby league. Blake provided the team good momentum with his strong, evasive running from set plays and open field play, and was also strong in defence. He scored a long range try in the first half, zipping through Air Force’s defence, 10m inside Army’s half, then zig-zagged past other Air Force defenders on his way to the try line.

Notable performances for Air Force were Shaun Connolly and Zach Studders, both were flankers. It's relatively easy to look good in a superior team, not so, if you're on the receiving end of a comprehensive loss. That’s why Shaun Connolly’s performance was particularly impressive. He was not intimidated by Army’s dominance, and was in the thick of it, all day.

Scorers:
Army – Jackson Pearson, wing (2 tries); Junior Ravetali, wing (2 tries); Jeremy Nelson, centre (2 tries); Shaun Kober, fullback (1 try); Blake Hart, centre (1 try); Craig Rogerson, five eight (1 try, 8 conversions); Luke Miles, no.8 (1 try); Siaka King, flanker (1 try).

Air Force – no scorers.

Best player points: Luke Miles, Army no.8 (3), Blake Hart, Army inside centre (2), Shaun Connolly, Air Force flanker (1).

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