RAF Marham Bulls Overcome Adversity to Secure RAF Cup Victory
Marham Bulls celebrate as they land the RAF Rugby League Cup for the first time since 2008.
An excellent contest, on a hot summer day at the RAF Rugby League’s home for sport at RAF Cranwell, resulting in a close fought win for the Bulls. Initially the game was a very intense affair with both defences on top nullifying the opposition attack, but it was the favourites, RAF Leeming Hawks who struck first, capitalising on back to back sets in the Marham half with a try on the Marham left. The Leeming try seemed to drive the Marham side on further with strong dominant running from Lamacraft and Lockwood backed up with tough uncompromising defence by the whole team.
The tide slowly began to turn and the Bulls began to enjoy the field position that they had earned with an extremely dominant period of the game for Marham that ultimately led to two top class tries. The first was a well worked play that involved lots of quick accurate passing and culminated in Hodgson going in untouched to score. The second was again an impressive pattern of play that left the Leeming defence confused and saw an overlap created on the right edge and an impressive finish by Gelder left the Leeming fullback clutching at thin air. Both tries were converted by Dunn giving Marham a 12-6 lead with just a few minutes to go before the half time interval. In this vital part of the game a moment of lapsed concentration led to Leeming going over for their second try, despite the efforts of the defence to keep them out, giving a half time scoreline of 12-12.
After a much needed break in the hot conditions, Marham started the second half with the dominance they had shown for the majority of the first half. A good kicking game backed up with immense defence and ruck control meant that within the first 20 minutes of the half the Bulls raced into an ultimately unassailable lead. Marham’s third try was again scored by the impressive Gelder, using great footwork after a midfield break to finish well. The next was a close range effort, when Dunn backed up a strong run from the forwards to finish close to the uprights. The final try came from a Leeming mistake, which was forced by the impressive defence that this victory was built upon. From the resulting scrum a great team move resulted in Williams running a great line to beat the covering defence and place the ball over the whitewash to give Bulls a 26-12 lead.
After the celebrations from the try had subsided Leeming hit back with a try straight away. This was closely followed by another following a lapse of concentration to make the score a nerve tingling 26-24 with only five minutes to go. Again the attitude and resolve in defence showed through, managing to keep attack after attack at bay and keep the line intact. The sound of the final whistle could not come soon enough, as the Bulls team had repelled another attack the referee blew his whistle to mark the end of a brutal game and announce the Marham Bulls as the RAF Cup Champions.
After the game Marham Coach Simon Wray said, “To perform in defence the way we did was a credit to the squad, and to do it with a squad of fifteen instead of seventeen was unreal. The players today were tremendous.” He also added “I would like to offer my thanks to all line managers for the release of players today and over the course of the season. Especially in the current Operational climate it is very hard to allow the release of players from their primary role, but on days like today it is very worth while.”
Five members of the Marham squad where chosen to represent the RAF at the Inter Services in September, some playing first team and others in the ‘A’ grade. This shows a clear pathway for players to follow from station all the way up to the first team.
Marham Bulls have now turned their attention to the Rugby Union season and are hoping to go on a European tour at the end of the season. The club are on the look out for new players and committee members, any standard is welcome. Training takes place every Monday evening at 1800 and is taken by a qualified Level 2 RFU coach.
For further information please contact Sgt Garry Dunn Ext: 3838, Cpl Tom Gelder Ext: 7094, Cpl Neil Hunt Ext: 6515.