With Fareham only having 11 players ready to KO and 2 on route it was only fair for us to offer to play this game as a friendly and try to re-arrange the league game for a later date, for which Fareham were gratefull and offered plenty of thanks.
So it started 11 a side and we received the KO. Lucky for us the ball landed in the hands of mark who ran 3/4's of the pitch fending off tacklers to score near the post with in the first minute of the game. Lucas then converted the points to make it 7-0 with 2 minutes on the clock.
If we thought this is how it was going to be for the rest of the game then we were mistaken as Fareham came at us strong with some good runs and good support from their backs. They were able to equal the score by scoring between the posts with a clasic crash ball which made it easy to convert to make it all square at 7 points a piece. Having a 5 man scrum did not really suit us but we bossed the majority of the scrums and our forwards ran striaght but were not able to get through the fareham defence. 15 minutes intot he game their two missing players turned up and they were able to bolster up their scrum with a large prop and we were now able to go to a 6 man scrum and include the missing winger. Their new prop was obviously one of their target men and was given the ball on numerous occassions to run at us which we allowed for him to gain 10 meeters prior to taking him down. We really need to work on our line speed! However 21 minutes in we were able to steal the ball from a breakdown and passed it through the hands to end up with Ed who was able to cross the line to make it 12-7 with 9 minutes to play in the first half. Unfortunatly both sides were giving away too many penalties for high tackles and the ref warned both captains about this lack of discipline. Unfortunaly we gave away another penalty 5 meters from our line and they were able to crash over the line to make it level at half time 12 points all.
During the half time break the ref gave myself and the fareham coach a good talking to about the high tackles and insisted the next one that happens the player will have to take a rest! So wiht this ringing in my ears I inform the boys and they took they knew I was serious........
With the second half KO underway fareham hit us as quick as we hit them in the first half and was able to score between the post with only a minute on the clock to make it 12-19. This was the first time we had gone behind in the game, in fact in any game all season and I knew this we be a make or break situation. However after 5 minutes we had a scrum 5 meters from their try line and I was expecting Ed (8) to pick and go as he does so well but obviously mattix (9) had other ideas as he took the ball from Ed's feet and ran a typical 9 ball and scored himself near the corner to make it 17-19. That stirred the boys a bit and there was some great defence work and 5 minutes later Mark recieved the ball after 2 or 3 passes and ran to score his second and to put us 22-19 in th elead and Lucas was able to convert this to make it 24-19 with still 20 minutes to play. This was time to give Mark a rest and bring on a couple of newer players and give them a run. I could se eth eboys now getting tired but they dug deep and Keir (2) our hooker ran a lovely solo run from outside of their 22 to score a well earned solo try and scored it close enough to the posts to help Lucas who slotted it over easily. Now with 12 minutes to go it was 31 - 19 and still plenty of time to play. Fareham did well and did not give up at all and to reward this they were able to score another try from a penalty as they caught us napping with our backs to them and they were able to make it 31-24 with only a few minutes to go.
The final whistle blew and I could see the relief on all the players faces as it a hard slog to make it 31-24 but well deserved.
We are going to have to do this all over again in a couple of weeks but this time with more to risk as it will be the re-arranged league game. With whoever wins this game going top our the league and potentially being league winners and being promoted at Christmas.
Lots to work on next Sunday as we have a training session at home, including line speed, when to and when not to off load the ball and line out work.
Man of the Match was Lucas Datson with some great kicking for field position and also converting the points that were required.
Special mention to:
Adam for playing Full back which I know he did not want to do but did a really good job and helped the team. Also to Sam Pitt who ended up in hospital with a suspected cracked elbw but was later released with no breaks or cracks. Get well soon Sam and you are now sponsored by Bubblewrap!