Saturday 31st August saw the first action of the 2019/20 season, with the Hurricanes welcoming Gosport & Fareham to the Fairway for the first round of the Hampshire Bowl, cup competition. G&F were relegated from London South West 2 last season, and will play in London South West 3 this forthcoming season. Following a mid-week friendly victory against local rival Fareham Heathens, and the Hurricanes defeating LSW 3 side US Portsmouth, this tie on paper was going to be a tight affair.
With the home side electing to play up the hill in the first half, and looking to set their stall out early and attack the visitors. A solid G&F defence resulted in little momentum for the Hurricanes, and after some early exchanges between the two teams, the visitors were the ones to get first blood. Following a period of pressure in the Sandown & Shanklin 22, the away team worked their way up to the try line, and some swift handling found a charging forward who scored just near the posts, 0 - 7.
The home side struck back moments later, following a period of attack themselves, a penalty came their way, following an indiscretion by a G&F forward at the breakdown. Flux kicked to the corner, but with the ball holding up in the wind, and missing touch, it bounced kindly in the G&F try area into the grateful hands of Michael Barrett. Flux converted, and the scores were level, 7 - 7.
The visitors then went on to score a further 15 unanswered points in the first half, through a penalty and two tries. This would usually indicate a shift in momentum and the game being taken away from one team, however, the visitors were made to work hard for their points, by the hosts, with the impressive Matt Miselbach and Zak Chiverton disrupting the G&F flow and helping get the Hurricanes on the front foot where possible.
The second half began with the Hurricanes increasing their intensity and making the most of the away sides indiscipline. A penalty kick pushed the hosts into the away sides 22, and when the line out was secured and a well-formed maul was dragged down illegally by the visitors, momentum had clearly shifted. With the advantage in their back pocket, the Hurricanes played on and passed the ball wide, eventually making it's way to winger Charles Little, who used his agility to sidestep two defenders and then dot down for the Hurricanes the second try. Flux pushed the conversion wide, yet the home side were finding a way back into the fixture, 12 - 22. The second half continued with most of the play occurring between the 22's and advantage swinging from one side to the next. In the final minutes, with tempers flaring and a few handbags were thrown, Greg Dean then caught a G&F with flanker with a punch, and then was shown the red card by the referee.
The cup tie then was over minutes later, following a knock-on in one last attacking foray by the home team.
Not the result perhaps desired, by a decent performance against strong opposition will put the Hurricanes in good stead for the forthcoming season. Man of the match for the forwards goes to Matt Miselbach, meanwhile, Owen Williams acquitted himself well at fly-half again. Mentions also to Dan Sayers for a solid performance, alongside the returning Joe Dove.
Despite the loss, Sandown & Shanklin are knocked out of the Hampshire Bowl, but fall into the Hampshire Vase cup competition, which will take place in the New Year.
The league season kicks off for the Hurricanes when they host old foes Ellingham & Ringwood at the Fairway on Saturday 7th September. 3.00pm kick-off, and we look forward to welcoming all to support the Hurricanes.