Royal Navy Rugby League storm into round two of the Betfred Challenge Cup

Storyline: Rugby League

The Royal Navy Rugby League team opened the 2023 season with a home tie against Cumbrian side Barrow Island in the Betfred Challenge Cup first round on Saturday 11th February.

After recovering from a 12 - 0 deficit in the first quarter The Brothers ran in five tries to overcome Barrow Island and move into the second round. 

The strength in depth of the current Royal Navy Rugby League squad was never more evident than this victory, including the now retired Darren Bamford the team were missing a further four players from the Inter-services victory over the Army last year. Nonetheless the seventeen players on the day proved more than a match for the Cumbrians, taking the tie 28-16.

The Barrow side were the best placed opposition faced by Armed Forces sides over the weekend and showed their class in the first quarter. Looking much more cohesive in the second quarter, Royal Navy Rugby League took the game to the opposition in all areas of the park and were rewarded with three tries before the break. 

After a dominant second quarter of the match The Brothers were rocked by a score for the visitors, a deft cross field kick by scrum half Ian Irvine hung in the air and was lost by the Royal Navy defence allowing centre Jones to touch down for his hat trick score. The Royal Navy regrouped and hit back, slick hands from Steinberg and Gaskell and then on to Duffy who went over for his second of the game.

The Brothers then scored probably the critical score of the match. James Texeira got close to the line but desperate defence by the Barrow side kept him out, however, hooker Steinberg at dummy half fooled the defence, completely diving over for the score. Gaskells third conversion extended the lead to ten points as the game moved into the last quarter. The final score of the game was a penalty goal under the posts which Gaskell slotted home with ease.

Bearing in mind this was the first match since Septembers’ Inter-service series and despite a bit of a shaky start, the new look Royal Navy side showed lots of character and grew into the game throughout the eighty minutes giving Coach Darren Bamford the best of starts to his tenure as Head Coach.