Hampshire Cup - Bowl First Round
First run out of the year!
After a postponed meeting in December and cancelled training recently it seemed like an age since any rugby had taken place. there were concerns that this would affect our performance but it wasn't long after kick off that these concerns were forgotten.
Jake was given the responsibility for the drop kick starts and his first gave Heathens the chance to chase down and put the pressure on the opposition. The chase was good and a knock on ensued. We had the advantage but a knock on of our own meant the first scrum of the game. And what a scrum it was too! This set the tone for the whole match and a lovely pass from Zack to our backs followed by a missed pass to Charlie allowed him to show his pace and score in the left hand corner. Charlie took over the kicking duties from Will and despite a good effort from out wide it missed the left hand upright by about a metre. Score 5-0 to Heathens.
We didn't have to wait too long until our next score either. A scrum in our own 22 gave us good forward momentum and after the first breakdown both Oscar and Lloyd carried well up-field. This was followed by some great linking play between Josh and Will, Will scored under the posts for Heathens' second score. Charlie converted the try and the score was 12-0 in our favour.
From the kick off we soon found ourselves under pressure in our 22. A kick in to the wind drifted back and was caught by a Heathens' player in an off side position. Ellingham & Ringwood decided to tap and go but thanks to a great hit by Lewis the ball was dislodged and it was scrum time again with a Heathens put in. From another strong and stable scrum the ball was passed out and Charlie kicked low and long and set off in chase. The E&R full back beat him to the ball but Charlie put him on the ground, stole the ball and was over for our third try, again under the posts. A successful conversion made the score 19-0 in Heathens favour. At this point the referee, also a E&R coach, checked with me at what point the game becomes forfeit as it looked like we would get 35 points ahead very quickly!
Sadly this wasn't to be the outcome. Like both our games against Eastleigh we now seemed to switched off when we had a big lead. We allowed them too much time on the ball and were again under sustained pressure near our try line. Luckily a mistake by E&R gave us a 22 drop out and with a good long kick and fantastic chase from Will we manage to get possession back from a scrum. With Charlie now off the pitch due to not feeling well the game became much more even and there was no addition to the score.
The second half saw a much improved performance from E&R and they scored two tries in a 10 minute period. This meant the score was 19-12 and we were in danger of throwing away what had been the perfect start. We were grateful for a couple of try saving tackles from Josh and Charlie, during his brief second half appearance, and despite being a player down we managed to bundle them into touch on a couple of occasions. After riding out this pressure the last five minutes saw Heathen's get their second wind. The scrum was performing just as well as in the first half, even though we dropped it to 7 men for defensive scrums with Josh filling the gap at full back. This allowed us to build a platform again and with a good run from a line out from Oscar, we managed to get out of our 22. E&R then gave away a penalty for a high tackle and Will made over 30 metres from the kick, which relieved the pressure even further.
We almost scored on a couple of occasions with Jake and Connor making inroads on the wings. I'm sure we would have made these count with 15 men but just couldn't get an overlap. With wracked nerves all around we just needed to hang on for a couple of minutes. Dom took the ball at the front of a line out and made a strong run up field and with several E&R players trying to bring him down he managed to get the ball away to Will, who scored in the corner. The relieved cheers from the Heathens' contingent might have been heard back at Cams Alders!
Will went back to his role as kicker and duly slotted the kick from the far right touchline between the posts. Final score 26-12. It was a great end to a match that could have been thrown away!
All of the lads contributed today. Zack with his accurate passing and quick presence at the rucks. Jayden and Fin for putting pressure on their backs and contributing at the rucks. Alexander was so quick today and was normally the first at a ruck, well done. Jacob had a fantastic game at hooker and won a lot of them against the head. Dom and Lewis were immense in the front row and both of them made some fantastic runs up-field, they reminded me of a wildlife programme where you see half a dozen lions hanging onto a Wilderbeest. All that was missing was the David Attenborough commentary! Lloyd did a textbook individual turnover and ran well, linking between Will and Isaac superbly. Isaac had a good return to fly half and created some great plays when he passed. Connor made some fantastic tackles and linked well with Charlie for the first try. Josh was a well deserved man of the Match from the opposition but if it could have been given to a group it would have been the forwards. They were outstanding today and I know they can improve. All of us were proud and the potential of this team is amazing.
Next week is the Quarter Finals against Fawley and Vectis. Hopefully some of the injured/ill players can make it so we have a few options when we have injuries. See you all next week!