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Bill Beaumont County Championship Division 2 Pool 2 match report

by Richard V Isaacs

 

Hampshire got their season off to a positive start with an eight try victory over a defiant North Midlands side on a glorious afternoon in Gosport on Saturday.

 

But there will be plenty of work to be done defensively as they leaked five tries to the visitors in the 56-35 success, which certainly kept them interested in the topsy-turvy encounter.

 

It shouldn't have been as nervy for the home side, who were always ahead of the game from the second minute when Bournemouth's Grant Hancox slotted a penalty.

 

Joel Knight cut his way to the line shortly afterwards to score Hampshire's first try and Portsmouth winger Curtis Barnes won the race to the ball following a clever and calculated cross field chip deep into the large in-goal area from the Havant captain.

 

However, it was to be Barnes' last action of the game as he strained his hamstring in the act of scoring and was forced off, to be replaced by Jake Caddy.

 

The visitors, already 15-0 down after just eleven minutes, finally broke through the Hampshire defence when coach Mitch McGahan went over and converted his own score.

 

It was a short rest bite for the visitors as Caddy showed a fine turn of pace to post Hampshire's third try and Knight found space in the defence to slice his way to the line.

 

Hancox improved both and fired a second penalty to put Hampshire firmly in the driving seat at 32-7 with just 27 minutes on the clock.

 

But two gifts for North's Old Halesonian winger Ethan Walker breathed life into their challenge.

 

He took full advantage of a turnover in his own 22 to sprint the 75 yards to the line and then, five minutes later, was in the right place for an interception to go a full 80 yards under the posts to reduce the interval lead to just eleven points.

 

This poked the Hampshire side and they were back on the scoresheet just two minutes in the second period when replacement Joe Davis rounded the defence for Hampshire's fifth of the afternoon.

 

A fine move saw Tottonians' Robbie Searle extend the lead and then the impressive Harrison Young sauntered over to ensure any half-time nerves were firmly eased.

 

North Midlands though did not give up and made sure they took a bonus point from the game when scrum-half Gareth Bladen (Bridgnorth) drove over from close range.

 

Jake Caddy marked his debut with a second try to bring up the Hampshire half-century but the last word went to the visitors' Charlie Wright.

 

91 points in total and 13 tries made for highly entertaining afternoon in the sunshine but it will have left both sets of coaching staff with plenty to ponder ahead of their next games.

 

In the other game in Pool 2, Warwickshire beat Somerset 29-5 at Nuneaton. Hampshire travel to Taunton next weekend to play Somerset before a trip to Rugby Lions in a fortnight.

 

Picture are now on Flickr and can be found by following this link...https://www.flickr.com/photos/hampshirerfu/albums/72157694796718501

 

 

TEAMS:

HAMPSHIRE: Grant Hancox (Bournemouth), Wayne Dugan (Gosport and Fareham), Robbie Searle (Tottonians), Joel Knight (Havant), Curtis Barnes (Portsmouth), Jacob Knight (Sutton and Epsom), Wesley Dugan (Gosport and Fareham); Alex Hibdige (Andover), Jerome Trail (Havant), George Primett (Henley Hawks), Harrison Young, Mitch Goldring (both Havant), Joe Rees (capt - Bournemouth), Kemp Price, Liam Perkins (both Worthing Raiders). Replacements: Liam Murphy (Tottonians), Luca Firetto (Bournemouth), Armandus Morgan, Richard Janes, Joe Davis (all Havant), Harry Dolbear (Tottonians), Jake Caddy (University of Portsmouth).

 

NORTH MIDLANDS: Oli Raynor (Old Redcliffians), Ross Attwood (Bredon Star), Llew Williams (Bridgnorth), Mark Coulson (Bournville), Ethan Walker (Old Halesonians), Mitch McGahan (Bournville), Gareth Bladen (Bridgnorth); Stef Thorp (Stourbridge Lions), Joe Roe (Birmingham Moseley), Ryan Smeilus (Bridgnorth), Steve Handy (Bournville), Calum Madden (Bridgnorth), Conor Nicholls (Bridgnorth), Adam Lee (Old Saltleians), Charlie Wright (Bridgnorth). Replacements: Dan Griffiths (Bridgnorth), Matt Young (Old Halesonians), Tom Lee (Old Saltleians), Harry Hudson (Edwardian), Charlie Bennett (Evesham), Alex Willis (Bournville), Mike Diston (Evesham).

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