The Army Men's Team are Champions!

Army Men have taken out the 2013 Australian Services Rugby Championships after a 29 – 22 win over Navy Men at Victoria Barracks, Sydney.

Army dashed out to a solid lead after tries to winger Jinda Narongchai and inside centre Jeremy Nelson within the first 10 minutes, with conversions by halfback Isaac Harris making it 14 – 0.

Navy responded with pressure of their own and were rewarded with a penalty, which in the spirit of running rugby, they kicked to the corner looking for a try.

It was not to be however and Army were able to clear their lines after a turnover.

The respite didn’t last long however and Navy were on the attack after good forward play resulted in a turnover by Army on their own 22 metre line.

Navy kept the pressure up and were rewarded when hooker Tait O’Sullivan dived underneath the posts to score.

The conversion made it 14 - 7 to Army after 15 minutes.

It wasn’t long before Navy where on the attack again and a penalty gave them the chance to close the gap further, but the strike from centre Dwight Shepherd fell short.

Army were unable to clear their lines and Navy looked to have scored, but lock Jason Harrington lost the ball over the try line.

However, Navy scored from the subsequent penalty, with blindside flanker Alex Wilson diving over. The conversion was missed and Army led 14 – 12 after 25 minutes.

The try gave Navy the boost it craved and although Army were able to string some sets together, a quick tap and subsequent quick sets gave Navy the impetus and after they strung some phases together they were awarded a penalty 25 metres out, directly in front.

Shepherd landed the goal and Navy led for the first time, 15 – 14.

Navy took that lead into the break and were on the front foot early in the second half. They camped in Army’s 22 but were unable to convert that pressure into points, missing a penalty to extend their lead.

Army’s backline was beginning to dominate and the pressure finally told, with Navy flanker Jared Burton sin binned. Army kicked the penalty, to regain the lead 17 – 15.

Both sides had periods of dominance, but repeated turnovers didn’t allow for any continuity.

And it was from another Navy turnover that allowed Army to score, through Matthew Hamill, to extend their lead to 22 – 15.

Hamill’s jubilation didn’t last long however, as he was sin binned soon after.

Navy dominated territory and possession while they had the extra man, but repeated turnovers didn’t allow them to turn the pressure into points.

And they were left to rue their inability to convert when, with 10 minutes remaining, Nelson scored his second try to push Army’s lead out to 14 points after the conversion.

Navy replied with a try shortly after to set up an intriguing final five minutes, and when they spread the ball wide in the last play of the game they came close, but a knock on denied them a chance to draw it at the death.

Army Men’s Captain, Major Scott Davidson, said he was impressed with the spirit of his Army team.

“I’m very proud of the guys,” he said.

“Navy took it to us for the full 80 minutes and it is a real mark of the character of our blokes to be on the back foot for long periods but to still win the game.”

Army Coach, Peter Conroy, said the start was what won Army the game.

“Our start was outstanding and one of the best I’ve seen in 14 years, but we switched off and let Navy back into the game through silly errors,” he said.

Conroy also acknowledged this year’s Inter-Brigade Carnival in strengthening the Army team, the service of Joe McIvor and Davidson to Army Rugby.

“That carnival allowed us to select some quality players, which while it made my job a bit tougher, it made our team stronger,” he said.

“Joe McIvor and Scott Davidson are stepping down at the end of this year and I’d like to thank them for their service to Army Rugby, they have been stalwarts and will be missed. I’d also like to thank our sponsors - we couldn’t do it without them.”

Navy Men Captain, Petty Officer Jason Harrington, said defence let his side down.

“If you let your opposition score 27 points in a game of rugby you will probably lose, so it’s our missed tackles which cost us,” he said.

“We only came together two weeks ago and even though we hadn’t played together much, we had the belief we could win, which was important.

“We improved on our first game, but obviously not enough.”

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