Eastleigh gained some vital ground in the battle for London 3 South-West’s third spot at the weekend.
The Bishopstoke Road side were given short notice to play their game on an Army pitch close to hosts Camberley but returned with a 41-17 bonus point victory, writes CLIVE DOWNTON.
Hampshire rivals Ellingham & Ringwood, who have held third place for much of the season, failed to get a side together and were forced to give London Exiles a home walk over.
The Es were docked five points at the beginning of the season after failing to field a team against Sandown & Shanklin last term.
Eastleigh now have a six-point advantage in the race for third, behind leaders Farnham and second-placed KCS Old Boys.
Eastleigh were three points behind Camberley at half time – tries from wingers Sam Prout and Ash Holland and a Phil Baldwin penalty giving them their 12 points. Plenty of other opportunities went begging over the first 40 minutes but the visitors were more clinical after the break.
Holland got his second try on 45 minutes and centre Chris Cove brought up the bonus point try ten minutes later.
Holland’s hat-trick came on the hour after number 8 Paul Fudio picked up and drove forward, passed to scrum half Sean Hayes who fed the ball out to the winger.
The home side hit back with a try before Eastleigh put more points on the board with a Baldwin penalty following a high tackle – that led to a red card for a Camberley flanker, his second yellow of the day. From the resulting play, second row Adam Kidd drove over the line to touch down.
Eastleigh flanker Connor Silcox made his first team debut after being brought on for the last ten minutes. Baldwin kicked six points in the second half with three conversions.
Eastleigh’s head coach Andy Boyes said: “We were a bit rusty in the first half, having not played or trained properly for two weeks but our second half performance was excellent.
“We made changes to the front row, centres and back three this week to try different combinations and all played very well.”
Ash Holland was named Eastleigh’s Pipestock man of the match.