After a string of four losses culminating in a heartbreaking defeat away to Portsmouth the previous week, Old Tiffs had to steady the ship or prepare to face disappointment at the end of the season.
Rejuvenated by the social at the Dover the previous weekend, the squad had the sharpest warm-up of all season where it was clear that everyone was hungry to taste victory for the first time in a month. This intensity was directly transferred onto the pitch and Old Tiffs immediately established themselves as permanent residents of Petersfield’s twenty-two from kick-off.
The pack were piling on the pressure in defence and it wasn’t long before nimble flanker Josh Graham Jr pounced on a loose ball that squirted out of the ruck and managed to dot it down over the try line. The afters were added by Gavin Griffith and it wasn’t long before he was teeing up a conversion again as elusive fullback Will Nichols soon ran through the opposition to score a try that this time stemmed from offensive pressure. The 14 - 0 score at half-time reflected the resolute defence of Old Tiffs and also the mature game-management of half-back pairing James McCue and Tim Fawcett, who pinned Petersfield back by exploiting the wind with their kicking game.
From the outset of the second half Old Tiffs’ dominant display continued. A truly awesome surge by the pack in a scrum on Petersfield’s five resulted in them winning the ball despite the Petersfield put in and subsequently number eight Ben Lawrence threw himself over the line to score a converted try that the forwards had produced with excellent physicality. However, perhaps the allure of a bonus point try led to a lapse in concentration because Petersfield were suddenly on the front foot fifteen minutes into the second half. A succession of penalties gave the opposition both the ability to crawl towards Old Tiffs’ try line and also the referee’s sympathies.
Contrary to the defensive display of the first sixty minutes, the pack’s performance at the breakdown was characterised as ‘ill-disciplined’ by the referee and began to test his patience. Eventually his hand was forced as flanker Josh HC’s infringement was one too many - Old Tiffs were suddenly down to fourteen men holding back the barrage of Petersfield crash runners. The constant tackling led to one or two soft shoulders and eventually the opposition managed to drive over the try line and earnt themselves seven points. Having lost the clean sheet, this concession sparked a resurgence of the same intensity of the start of the game and it wasn’t long before Tim Fawcett enabled winger Moe Alothman to smash his way over the line with a beautiful miss pass. The conversion was added.
Old Tiffs’ offensive onslaught did not stop there and, once again, the forward pack produced a score; this time however, physicality did not break the Petersfield line but rather a dummy from Josh Graham Jr, who combined the half-break with an impressive turn of speed and managed to score again - this time right in the corner. The conversion was scored and the game ended at 35 - 7.
Back to winning ways, Old Tiffs look ahead to Portsmouth the following week, where they hope to solidify this return of form with another decisive victory.
Motm - Josh Graham Jr: absolutely everywhere. Nuisance in the breakdown and a wonderful try.
Dotd - Tim Fawcett: still a backrow playing at 10, we don’t care how good your pass was it’s not acceptable.
by Thomas Carvill