The Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union Senior Men’s and Women’s teams have kicked off their campaigns to secure this year’s 2015 Australian Services Rugby Championships titles.
For the first time in well over a decade, the championships are being played at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane.
The Navy women were first on the paddock on 17 May, securing secure a solid win against Air Force, before the Navy men dominated their Air Force opponents for a victory in defence of their 2014 title.
Navy dominated the women's match with open running rugby, with team captain Lieutenant Ashley Payne leading the way in the forwards and wreaking havoc with the Air Force defence.
She was supported by a forward pack who setting a strong platform for attacking opportunities. With the pressure applied by Navy’s forwards, the backs sliced through the Air Force defences scoring three tries before half time. In the second half, Air Force applied sustained pressure, however the numerous raids on Navy’s line were denied by determination and stoic defence.
The final score was Navy 15 - Air Force 0 with tries to Petty Officer Renae Woodward, and Able Seamen Lulu Gray and Esha Nons. As a result, Navy retained the converted Maggie Quinn Trophy for another year.
Lieutenant Ashley Payne was recognised as the player of the day with Able Seaman Shannon O'Sullivan voted the best new player.
Navy Women’s coach, Lieutenant Commander Amanda Folkes said it was a solid win that prepared the team well to take on Army this weekend.
"I was hugely proud of the way the Navy women performed and refused to let Air Force cross our line," she said.
The men’s match started with the Air Force denying the Navy an opportunity to settle into their game plan. A fifth minute penalty gave the Air Force the first points, but that was to be the last they would post on the scoreboard.
Before half time, Navy scored two unanswered tries and the Air Force were wishing for the half time whistle.
Upon entering the second half, Navy found their rhythm and within three minutes they crossed again to extend their lead. Through dynamic forward play and brilliant combinations within the back line, Navy quickly dominated the run of play and finished with a total of seven tries.
Stand out players included Leading Seaman Daryl Seden, Lieutenants Brendon Dumbrell and Jared Burton, Sub Lieutenant Josh Friend and Able Seaman Wil Solway. The final score was Navy 43 - Air Force 3 with tries to Leading Seaman Seden (2), Lieutenant Dumbrell, Seaman Michael Rue, Able Seaman Clark Chancellor, Able Seaman Dylan Marshall and Leading Seaman Brad Thomas. Leading Seaman Damian House kicked four conversions.
Men's Coach Petty Officer Julius Tadulala was really pleased with the team’s performance in the second half.
"We played with more composure and patience, both in attack and defense," he said.
"Our new scrum half combination of Able Seaman Chancellor and Leading Seaman House had a solid performance to withstand the pressure and set a platform for the backs."
Seaman Rue, who scored a try on debut said it was a career highlight.
"I've played rugby since I was six years old, and wearing the Navy jersey has been the biggest honour," he said.
"I can't say enough how hard the guys around me worked together to get the points on the board and secure the win."
Navy’s next matches are on Saturday 23 May at Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane, with the Navy men set to defend their 2014 title:
Navy Old Salts vs Army Old Boys - kick off @12:00
Navy Women vs Army Women - kick off @13:30
Navy Men vs Army Men - kick off @15:00