Basingstoke 5 v 53 Old Tiffinians
Tiffs cruise to biggest win of the year
Old Tiffinian’s travelled to Basingstoke on Saturday 28th October 2017 looking to capitalise on their victory the week before against New Milton & District at fortress Grists. After OT’s very poor start to the season, which saw them lose 3 out of 3 to local rivals, the most recent 3 games had seen an upturn in form, with 2 victories gained and the only loss coming to league leaders Old Emmanuel.
Whilst this improvement in form was welcomed, OT’s had yet to win away from home, and the weekend’s game against a struggling Basingstoke side looked to be a good opportunity to correct that position.
There were a few changes to the team from the previous week’s encounter against New Milton, with Sam Dowsett in at hooker, Apos into the second row, and Ali Halse in at wing for his first start since returning from injury. In addition, with numbers for the 2s being fairly low, coach Andy Blackburn was technically on the bench, though as he had no boots with him it seemed unlikely that he would be making his comeback.
The game started at a quick pace, with OTs making a number of line breaks through Josh Graham, Tim Fawcett and Carvill. Basingstoke were quickly pinned in their half and infringed at the breakdown. Will Sharp made the kick , 3-0 to OTs. After the restart the story was much the same, with Tiffs again playing at a frantic pace and continuously breaking the line, with further scores only failing to materialise due to poor decision making or execution of skills near the line. Thankfully, the hosts were more than happy to give Tiffs a leg up and after a further Basingstoke infringed at the ruck Will Sharp again slotted between the posts, to give OTs a 6-0 lead with 10 minutes gone.
Another restart led again to another penalty awarded to the boys from Grists, with Tiffs this time opting to go for the corner. The lineout was well taken and from the ensuing maul OTs went over in the corner. Sharpie again made the kick, with the score now 13-0. Shortly after good midfield interplay led to Josh Graham breaking through to score, which was again converted, leaving the score at 20-0.
Tiff’s defence was solid when Basingstoke had the ball in hand, and as had been said on the pitch, the most likely route for the home side to come back into the game was through indiscipline. Knowing something and executing it are two different things however and a number of penalties led to a Basingstoke lineout on the five meter line. Though Tiffs held the initial maul, the ball came out allowing Basingstoke to go over. The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 20-5.
OTs have sometimes this season been guilty of allowing leads to slip after a setback. However strong words from Captain Jae and fly half George Taylor rallied the troops, and they came back strongly after the restart. After a period of pressure fullback Will Sharp went through, taking the score to 25-5. The conversion was missed, and the whistle soon went for half time.
The main message at half time was to calm down, keep playing the patterns, and close the game out. Once the second half had started Basingstoke seemed to collapse a bit, with Tiffs making inroads across the pitch. George Taylor scored an excellent solo try, cutting through the midfield and showing a great step to evade defenders. The points were converted by Will Sharp, taking the score to 32-5.
After the restart OTs were back in the Basingstoke half, and moved the ball down to the field to the five meter line. After a period of sustained pressure scrum half James McCue showed good strength to break through a tackle and score. The conversion was again made, taking the score to 39-5. From the restart Tiffs again went down the pitch, and, after Basingstoke were deemed to have collapsed a maul from a lineout, their number 8 was given a yellow card and Tiffs were awarded a penalty try, taking the score to 46-5.
Basingstoke seemed to completely collapse at this stage, with Tiffs making multiple breaks without getting across the whitewash. During one of these breaks Will Sharp picked up a knock, which saw a reshuffle in the back three with Ed Leung going to full back and James McNicholas coming on at wing. The veteran made an immediate impact, taking a restart and hitting not just one, but two rucks. Tiffs still had one more score in them, with the returning Ali Halse making a good break to go over under the posts, and then in an outrageous display of skill, to nonchalantly take a drop goal conversion which was slotted through.
Tiffs had some more pressure but were not able to make it tell, with the final whistle ending the game at 53-5. Overall it was a good performance against a struggling Basingstoke side that appeared to have had a lot of turnover in players since last year. Next up a visit form second place Portsmouth at fortress Grists for lady’s day.
Final Score: Basingstoke 5 v 53 Old Tiffinians
Tries Jang, Graham, Sharp, Taylor, McCue, Halse
Penalty Try x 1
Conversions Sharp x 4, Halse
Penalties Sharp x 2
Report by Laurie Unwin