Young team put in great performance but lost out in the end.
Fareham Heathens hosted Sandown & Shanklin at Cams Alders today in the opening fixture of the 2017/18 Hants 1 League Campaign.
With a plethora of Senior players away at Matt Smith's stag weekend Heathens were fielding a side with debutants and returnees. Josh Gander and Andy Burns started in the front row along with the returning Fijian 'Q'. With 1st XV captain Dave Wheaton away it was returning colt James Whitfield who started in the 2nd row alongside last seasons 2nd team skipper Ade Taylor. With Matt Smith away this weekend a Rikky Curtis also unavailable the back row comprised of Paul Charlson and Harry King alongside this seasons 2nd XV skipper Graeme Wilson. Dan Lee started at 9 and was captain for the day and alongside him at 10 was summer recruit Joe O'Loghlen. With first choice centres Tom Baxter and Rob Impey away it was Anthony Burr who started at 12 alongside Jack Furlong at 13. With 1st XV wingers Steve Devoy (away) and Owen Charlson (injured) unavailable it was John Cole and Ted Mata who started on the wings. Due to 1st XV fullback Jashan Solanki being unavailable it was Tom Harrison who got a chance to start at 15.
Sandown & Shanklin had not benefitted from any pre-season fixtures and it showed in the first quarter. . John Cole opened the scoring with an opportunist try following a quick throw in on their 5m line by S&S. this in the 3rd minute.
S&S hit back within 5 minutes after a defensive clearance left the Heathens midfield off side. S&S capitalised through a quick tap and go from the resulting penalty. Ted Mata went over from a scrum just outside the 5m line.
Heathens held the a 12-5 lead until the 35th minute when Andy Burns went off with an ankle injury and whilst off the field S&S levelled the scores at 12-12 and followed up with an opportunist try on the stroke of Half Time when Tom Harrison has to deal with what can only be described as a horrible bounce.
Heathens were still well in the game at Half Time being only 12-19 down.
S&S started to go through the gears in the second half and after an early score piled on the pressure adding 26 unanswered points in the second half.
There was much to take from this game and Head Coach Nick Davis was proud of the troops but also recognised there is a lot to work on, especially in defence .
Dan Lee led the side and did a great job controlling the play from 9. Joe O'Lochlen worked well at 10 and debutant James McKenzie playing in the second row put in. MOTM performance .
Despite the loss there were lots of positives to take from the game.
TOGETHER & STRONG.
John Cole scores for Fareham Heathens
John Cole kicks a conversion for Fareham Heathens