Ts and support made the coach journey down to Gosport, their longest away trip of the year with a previous record of not winning here in over 10 years.
Gosport coming off the back of a narrow loss the previous week and playing at home, this was always going to be a tough day at the office for Ts.
Forwards; Fyles stepped up to the 1s this week, with Ricky & Frazer his veteran front row. Skipper Banks & Puff at Locks with a mobile back row in Chris, Jasper & Mooro.
Backs; Sam G & Sam W partner for the first time at half backs, JH and Jack also partner for the first time in the centers & a back 3 off Rose, Lurch Stock & Fozzy.
Replacements; Joey, T.Knight & Biff.
Ts turned up at sunny Gosport to welcoming fans who made the Ts support & players feel right at home. From the outset Ts were expecting a tough game, always hard to get wins on the road, and recent history for Ts proved that over 10 years of coming to Gosport leaving empty handed.
Ts got the game underway and wind into face & uphill first, it started a very open free flowing style of game with thundering hits & silly penalties from both sides resulting in end to end rugby. The set piece was put under a lot more pressure than previous weeks, however the pack deserve a collective mention for managing and coming out on top throughout the 80 minute period. Some fantastic lineout work by Jasper, Chris, Mooro all to be noted, Ricky…. Not so much.
However again Front row were outstanding in the scrum area, and the guys got around the park brilliantly, Puff, Louie, Frazer, Ricky all running ball well and all forwards working around the park well.
The early game consisted of some great clearances from Fozzy, Sam G & Sam W, with kick chase a true strength working together. Some early Ts pressure looked promising both Sams getting structure in place and Stock & Fozzy getting involved early to create yards. Some beautiful hands from 9 through, Sam, JH & Dom puts him in some early space, but the G&F scramble D saved them on a number of occasions throughout the match.
Rolling maul pushes Ts deep in the red zone, Frazer peels with Banks, Bhamra & JH support, the boys rack up the phases but G&F prove they’re not conceding that easy and snuff out the interception and clear the pressure.
Shortly after, a misdirected switch lead to a loose ball for G&F to capitalize on and go over for the home side’s lead of 5-0.
Silly penalties again from both sides lead to a number of lineouts & scrums not really allowing either team to build any momentum, but is was in the Ts half. After a number of minutes and phases G&F had the opportunity to increase their lead which they did but only by 3, 8-0 to the home side.
It wasn’t much longer after, due to a number of penalties going the home side’s way and slowly grinding down the Ts defense, the strong running G&F 13 managed to sneak over to make the lead 13-0.
However it would be Ts who had the last laugh in this half, at this point the G&F crowd really showing their support and letting the Ts fans feel the full wrath of pleasantness. All of the back three getting a bit of ball in hand and showing great go forward, both Lurch & Rose showing their strengths when running ball.
The pen goes Ts way, the rolling maul see Ricky peel with what can only described as an amble forward, before he’s over the line and miraculously loses the ball. G&F don’t find touch from the scrum which is sure to be the end of the half, Ts turn it over, Sam W gats the guys in shape and an off the cuff line of running from Rose, sees him put the fend in and get over to end the half, Fozzy converts in the wind 13-7 the half score.
Knight & Griffin are on & Ts get the game underway and they start with intent, Banks leading by example taking the kick off and charging forward. However a spilt pass out wide turns possession back over. But a hugely dominant scrum gives Ts the pen and Fozzy closes the gap to 3, 13-10 the score.
Cleared lines and strong D gives Ts another pen, Fozzy sends us down field for the lineout, cleanly taken and the phases build before Fozzy again in open play pins the opposition back into their own 22. Unable to clear well, Ts pin them back and gain the pen before Fozzy brings it level at 13 apiece, GAME ON!
A few moments of madness then take place where neither side knows exactly what’s happening as a ball is kicked into someone face, then kept in touch, offloaded and I think at one point Biff came on. However G&F knock the ball on their own 5 and Ts tails are up. Walking the scrum forward it looks a certainty before Chris poaches another from under Puffs nose, converted Ts take the lead for the first time of the match 20-13.
G&F however come back fiercer than ever, keeping ball in hand and racking up the phases they changed their game plan and it began to work early on. Their 15 almost getting across the line before spilling the ball, only for Puff to knock on at the base of the scrum and return the ball.
G&F go wide and a misdirection in defense means G&F close the gap to 2, 20-18 Ts still have the lead. G&F look to be a different side, their crowd behind them and the momentum shifted to their favour, the penalty goes their way and make it 21-20 with only a few minutes on the clock.
Ts come back out with the ball, pinning G&F back deep into their 22 Ts looked as though the game wasn’t over yet. However G&F weren’t giving away points that easy, they’d fought hard to get this lead back.
The momentum shift was them amplified again when another dubious penalty went G&F way and the gap further increased 24-20. It looked as though G&F would snatch this win from Ts after all.
But in similar fashion to the first half, Ts had not given up on this game, there was still more (all be it very little) in the tank. Strong scrum leads to a well worked backs move to put rose in a gap, but just unable to get the offload away meters from the line.
G&F Crowd at this point really dishing out the pleasantries to Ts support and players, but when you come for a tough game of rugby you expect it to be tough in all aspects. Lurch stock proving there’s still more left in his tank when he absolutely creams his opposite number and the buzz on the field increases, could we pull it off.
G&F have the ball and the lead, just a couple of minutes left on the clock, the game slows, not the way Ts like to play. Both sides at this point looking knackered out there but neither ready to give up. A spilt ball in the Ts 22 what could happen here, a small half break from JH giving Ts front foot ball, however another turn over, this looking sure to be over and done with now.
Pen Ts way, lineout doesn’t go to plan, but the G&F return lineout gets interfered with by jasper & knocked on with time for the scrum. An excellent executed backs move see’s Rose open his legs and show us his class, before possibly putting in the most diabolical kick attempt, every Ts player and supporter thought it was over, until Chris (The port) Connelly appears majestically out of nowhere and dives on the ball.
Biff hits Wattridge with a quick ball before a little bit of magic and assistance from the G&F defender the winning score comes in the final play of the match, a deafening silence drops over Gosport except for the cheers of the away support. Converted Ts win the match 27-24 in what could only be titled ‘A Thriller’.
I think the G&F captain summed up the game perfectly as he came to shake the Ts hands he said “That’s what rugby is about”. No rugby player wants to come away with 50-0 wins every week, its games like Saturday that make you realise the love for this game. A fantastic battle between two old enemies.
MOTM; from a Ts point of view, Frazer, Banks, Chris, Puff, Stock, Wattridge, JH & Rose all putting in huge shifts, but Fozzy was named MOTM by G&F and cant disagree with a solid boot on the day!
DOTD; many shouts for this also but in a moment of pure passion, only a few players got to witness the pure elation on the field when Sam scores to win, to then receive a full sprint headbutt from Jasper to celebrate. Well done both.
Ts end September 3rd in the table and next week are home to Eastleigh.
Many thanks for the read, until next time, be seeing you.
Updated 08:50 - 13 Oct 2017 by brendan griffin