Fareham Heathens 1st XV travelled to Ellingham & Ringwood following losses in their first 3 opening fixtures in Hants 1. Heathens have always been involved in tight encounters with Ellingham & Ringwood over the last couple of seasons and they expected nothing less this time out.
Heathans had to make changes the day before the fixture as last weeks try scorers Ted Mata and Inia Qiolevu became unavailable for the away fixture.
The omens seemed to be shown early on as not only did the home team open their account with a try within 1 minute and Anthony Burr, outside centre, picked up an injury in the same move. He played no further part in the game and was replaced by former colt JoshBissett who filled the 13 slot, despite being a back row forward.
The home team kept the pressure on the Heathens line but on 15 minutes and following a failed clearance by Ellingham,No.8, matt smith fielded the ball just inside his own half and made a break down the 5m channel and offloaded to 12 Tom Baxter who powered over for a try. Jashan Solankinarrowly missed adding the extras.
Ellingham hit back on 21 minutes, as a penalty for a high tackle was punished with 3 points to the home side.
Heathens were dominating the set pieces and 4 minutes latermatt smith made a great break and broke the tackle line and offloaded to full backJashan Solanki who put of the afterburners to out strip the covering defence. Solanki added the extras to make it 8-12 to Heathens.
Heathens continued to pressure the home teams line and despite not managing to push the home team scrum over the line, Smith picked up at 8 and offloaded to 9 Dan Lee, who released Steve Devoy on the wing who powered over in the corner.
Ellingham hit back on the stroke of half time as missed tackle in midfield resulted in a line break and the ball was moved quickly left and the home team touched down in the corner. A fantastic kick from the touchline narrowed the score to 15-17 at the break.
Following last weeks poor start to the second half Heathens were aware of the dangers of losing momentum. Unfortunately once again Heathens conceded another harsh penalty which was duly punished giving the home side an early 18-17 lead in the second half.
A subsequent harsh penalty for not releasing at the breakdown resulted in Ellingham going into a 21-17.
Both teams seemed to suffering from some indifferent decisions and this resulted in on field discipline by both teams deteriorating.
Heathens seemed to compose themselves first and continued to apply pressure onto the home side. Ellingham conceding penalties were pinned back into their corner and following an excellent catch and drive from the lineout, Captain Dave Wheaton took the honours with the touchdown. Solanki slotted the extras from far out on the left making it 21-24 with only a few minutes left on the clock.
Despite messing up several kick off receipts during the game, Heathens managed to work back up field and once again the home side infringed at the breakdown and despite the fact that Solanki scuffed his kick in front of the posted the ball skimmed over the cross bar.
Heathens led 21-27 going into the last minute knowing a converted try could hand a win to the home side.
Ellingham threw everything at Heathens but strong and tenacious defence kept them at bay.
5 points on the road were richly deserved, with Heathens outscoring the home side 4-2 in tries.