Founded in 1981 by ex-players from Petersfield, Chichester and Haslemere, Midhurst RFC once were a regular feature of Petersfield’s fixture list in senior friendlies, particularly for the Seconds and Third teams. With Midhurst playing in Sussex 1 Spitfire League they find themselves travelling to such exotic locations at Eastbourne, Rye and Seaford rather than the Hampshire and Surrey clubs just across the county boundaries.
For many years Midhurst did not support a youth structure and children wanting to play were encouraged to join other local clubs with many joining Petersfield. Some of these players, having learned their rugby elsewhere, choose to return to the club when they can to form a young cohort of senior players. A notable example of this in Saturday’s game was former Field Colts stalwart the feisty Cam Schmidt who threw himself against his former club with great gusto.
Established as a trial fixture, the match was played out over four quarters to enable both clubs to shuffle their teams. Surprisingly, in spite of this fragmentation, the game held together as a whole and managed to keep the crowd entertained. Unfortunately for Field a lot of the excitement came when they attempted to force the play, particularly towards the end of the match when they tried to keep the ball alive by throwing speculative passes. More often than not on these occasions’ the ball went loose, allowing Midhurst to pile on more pressure and, on a few occasions’, come away with a score.
However, during the earlier periods of the match, when Field played basic, clinical rugby, they made great inroads into the Midhurst half and set up four good tries, one each from Palmer, Franks, Andrews and Bremner. Bremner also added two conversions to his tally. During these phases of controlled play, Field looked more than capable of upsetting their hosts and coming away with the win. Perhaps flushed with their success though Field began to experiment with more complicated plays which, when they broke down, enabled Midhurst to come back into the game and turn the pressure back on their guests.
For Field there were some important lessons learned and during this game was a good time to learn them. If you are going to experiment it is better to do it in a friendly fixture and there was plenty of potential on display to suggest that if Field can get their ducks aligned they will have the capability to bamboozle most teams in the league. Hopefully Field will recognise the positives in how they played on Saturday and realise that they have a very good basic game to fall back on when things are not going their way. With the benefit of hindsight they should be able to see that the scoreline could have been very different, but for a few missed passes.
One obvious negative, though, was the loss of influential forward Ian Palmer
who suffered a nasty gash under his left eye that resulted in a trip to the seamstresses at Petersfield Hospital.
Heading up the coaching team for the fixture, the evergreen Jon Walker provided an honest assessment of the team’s performance. He concluded that the team had conspired to beat itself with too much over complication where the basics, done right, would have seen them scoring more points. “That aside,” Walker added, “I thought that a number of players played above themselves and, generally, it was a good afternoon.” Walker was in similarly positive mood looking forward to the rapidly approaching league season, “It was good to see players of all levels turning out for this match and given this mix I suspect that we could have a very positive season.”
Field’s senior teams play another friendly next Saturday at home against Farnham. Following this the 1st XV will kick off the league with another home game, this time against Millbrook on the 15th September. As has become the custom at the club, Petersfield will be hosting a pre-match luncheon. Details of this and all future events are listed on the PRFC website.
Squad; D. Sloan, T. Faulkner, D. Groves, R. Luff, C. Lewis, T. Franks, C. Mason, A. Doe, M. Downes, M. Higson, B. Winter, J. Bremner, G. Crane, G. Waterfall, I. Palmer, A. Patience