Field Errors Costly Against Old Emanuel
Our Special Correspondent, Chris Todd, reports as Field are pipped to the post by Old Emanuel in their last home match of the season.
Petersfield's home game on Saturday - a London South West III league fixture reschedules due to the snow postponement of 3rd March - was played in arctic conditions with frequent snow flurries and a biting wind.
The conditions affected the play for both sides as cold hands and chilled muscles made handling difficult and acceleration ponderous.
Old Emanuel, second in the league and going toe-to-toe all season with Old Cranleighans for the top slot, were expected to give ninth place Petersfield a difficult game, especially as injury and unavailability had once again decimated coach Alder’s first choice squad.
With only six 1st XV regulars available, second team players and Vets were drafted in to bolster the squad and, despite losing, the home side restricted the visitors to a relatively modest score.
Petersfield were off the mark after just five minutes with a Josh Haslett penalty. Unfortunately, the home side fumbled the restart allowing Emanuel to break through to score a converted try. Another error halfway through the first quarter - Field missing their lineout jumper – was again punished by the visitors who scored in the corner making the conversion too difficult to allow them to secure the extras.
The faithful home support, heavily muffled against the biting cold, were now treated to twenty-five error strewn minutes as both sides struggled to settle into their game in the wintery conditions - continuity of play not helped by a number of penalties.
Eventually, on thirty-three minutes, Field stole the ball from lose play by Emanuel and from just inside the visitor’s half Rory Munro and then Seb Tuff made 40-metres before offloading to the supporting Haslett to score under the post to make his subsequent conversion a formality.
As the home support pondered on this marvellous change in fortune and wondered if this was a good omen for the rest of the game, a Field player was yellow carded. This was followed rapidly by a penalty line-out which the visitors caught and drove over for their third try. With the conversion added and no further score, the side went in at the break, 10-19.
From the restart a few knocks and bruises saw several players from both sides replaced either for running repairs or for physio treatment, however it did not cause the visitors to lose continuity and on fifty-two minutes they increased their lead with a further converted try.
Field were dogged in defence and this and some unforced errors by the visitors gave respite to the new electronic scoreboard. The sin-binning of the Emanuel scrum half gave Field a lift which was short-lived as with a few minutes of his absence still to run, Field again saw the displeasure of the referee for one of their own to be given a 10-minute rest.
Holding their own with twelve minutes to play, a Field error – this one a fluffed a clearance kick - was pounced upon by the visitors for a converted try, the final score of the game.
Credit is due to all players and especially to those drafted in to cover the numerous absences, a further justification (if one were needed) of the benefit of the senior squad system in place at Petersfield RFC.
Coach Alder reflected this in his post-match comments; “The team played with a lot of spirit and hard work and deserved something from the game. Most of Emanuel’s points came off the back of our errors, either forced passes or poor handling in difficult conditions. The players stayed together throughout the game and made Emanuel earn every yard. They should be as proud of their performance as I am.
We play Trojans next and we will need to start taking the opportunities that come our way, if we are to remain in this league. The coaching staff and I are working hard to prepare the players and it will be a question of character that will make the difference with the result.”
This was Field’s last home match of the season and they start their last three games on the road with a trip to Southampton and fourth-placed Trojans. Flying high at the start of the season, Trojans have hit something of a slump since the start of 2018 and have the same record as Field with only two wins in seven games – one of which was a recent 78-7 defeat away at Old Emanuel.