ImageHampshire Gales Bowl Final - Petersfield 18 US Portsmouth 17

An exciting final to the Hampshire Gales Bowl competition saw Petersfield and US Portsmouth matched in spirit and commitment as they fought to win the match. However, it was Petersfield who grabbed victory in the final moments, scoring a try in injury time.

A vicious wind blowing along the pitch dictated the way in which the game was played. In the first half, US Portsmouth enjoyed the advantage and looked close to scoring in the first minute when Andy Watson kicked into the corner. However, it was almost half an hour before they saw some points on the board with Al Kennedy’s kick into the corner. The resultant lineout was stolen by US and the pressure this created led to Steve Clunie scoring a try that equalised the fifteenth-minute effort by George Rees for Petersfield, also following a lineout close to the line.

Petersfield’s tight, driving rugby led to an almost immediate return of their lead when James Martin made a break that eventually ended with Derek Eldridge going over in the corner. Petersfield went into half time with a 10-5 lead and were expected to increase the scoreline with the wind at their backs.

In the second half, US had other ideas, having learned from the first period and adapted better to the change round. Driving forward play quickly created a position from which Dan Stoneman drove over for a try near the posts, with Clunie kicking the conversion.

Petersfield responded almost immediately when Ben Martin kicked a penalty, but US continued to press forward and were rewarded midway through the half when a penalty effort from Clunie, driven back by the wind, was ultimately recycled swiftly to Adam Rook who showed all his experience in making it to the line and taking the lead back to four points.

Driving rain now added to the difficulties and US played the conditions well, kicking downwind for position. With injury-time looming, US were once again under pressure after a penalty against them for stamping. They managed to hold off the attack until a good move by Petersfield saw replacement winger, Andy Nicholls, dart over in the corner for the decisive score.


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