Field Win Ugly at Basingstoke
A curates-egg of a display sees Field stop a 3-loss streak and condemns pluck Basingstoke to their eighteenth straight defeat.
With a rest weekend and the postponement caused by last week’s snow, Petersfield’s 1st XV had to wait three weeks to attempt to halt their run of three defeats on the bounce. An away trip to lowly Basingstoke looked like the perfect fillip for a team still counting the cost of a slew of serious injuries in the mid part of the season.
When the teams last met back in November, Field cruised to a 40-0 victory at Penns Place. After a good week of preparation and a strong line up, surely another bonus-point win was on the cards? The Field faithful travelled north-west to enjoy the spectacle at Basingstoke’s impressive facility.
Field’s opening salvos looked promising and the visitors soon found themselves camped in their hosts 22. At their first scrum, the Field pack ran their opposite numbers off their own ball and the backs appeared to be enjoying the good surface and the wind at their backs. After six minutes, Basingstoke gifted Nick Blumlein the simplest of penalty kicks and Field were on the scoreboard and on their way.
However, as the minutes passed and Field pressed for their first try, the mistakes began to creep in to their play and assured play became anxious. Field began to chase the game as though they were heavily in arears and were guilty across the team of trying to force the play when cooler heads would have prevailed.
The first half became a story of working down the field with a mixture of good passing or tactical kicking, only to cough up the ball through error or transgression. Basingstoke were profligate with many of their clearing penalty kicks - missing touch and allowing Field to run back at them – and so the process would start again like a rugby-themed Groundhog Day. So it was that the half ended with just the solitary 3-points on the board and Field down to 14-men after Andy Barnes was sin-binned just before the break – a ‘team’ yellow card for one infringement too many.
After a positive team-talk at the break, with good feedback from the players, Field began the second half with more vigour and improved accuracy. Halfway through the third quarter, Basingstoke were the next to feel the referee’s displeasure and received a yellow card of their own for persistent offending. Taking the resultant penalty as a scrum, Field fed the ball to Joshh Haslett who evaded his opposite number’s despairing tackle to sprint in for a score on the right wing. With the wind against him, Blumlein failed to add the extras.
Injuries in the Field ranks forced changes and while the side was off-balance and adjusting, Basingstoke managed a sustained attack and barrelled over on their right wing to reduce the deficit to just 3-points.
Field’s nervousness got the better of them again and resorted to the forced play seen in the first half. When they were good they were very, very good, but when they were bad they were awful. In a passage of good play with some slick passing and penetration, the red team once again made it into the Basingstoke 22 and up to the line where a penetrating drive from Prop Sam Brown secured Field’s final, unconverted try.
Field’s efforts were becoming more error strewn and when they occurred in broken play threatened to allow Basingstoke to increase their score. Buoyed by Field’s largesse, the home side pushed for another try and the game ended with Field mounting an impressive defensive effort in their own 22.
After the game, Coach Alder summed the match up succinctly; “We came believing we could gain bonus point win, but in the event the win we achieved was hard earned. Basingstoke battled to a man at the end and are a credit to their coaches. We seemed to play under a lot of self-induced pressure which was hugely detrimental. This was our eighteenth different line up in eighteen matches and the Club must take pride in the way its Senior section rallies around to keep us in the league and competing. Whilst there were negatives, there were also plenty of positives and the team need to focus on these; when we played with structure and pace, we were dominant. This needs to be our fall-back position when games go against us, rather than forcing the play.”
All three of Field’s Senior teams are at home next week playing the fixtures that were postponed due to snow. The 1s welcome Old Emmanuel, the third-placed 2s, Portsmouth 3rd XV, and second-placed 3rd XV take on Southampton’s 2nd XV.