Title favourites too strong for Romsey

First published in Sport

On Saturday, Romsey hosted Andover, who were fighting for promotion at the top of the league, both teams had reasons to play hard for this game. Romsey were fighting for survival and needed a bonus point to help secure their position in the table above Southampton and avoid being demoted alongside Overton. Andover were competing with Fordingbridge at the top of the table and would need maximum points to help on their chase for promotion.

Andover started the game hard and fast, quickly pushing up into Romsey’s territory and applying heavy pressure. Romsey won, a penalty, but Andover were quick to break and with fast hands, and quick feet, scored their first of many in the game. Andover continued to score, but Romsey refused to lie down with returning fly-half Rob Heighway putting his body around. The youthful back row trio of Dunc Cooper, Jacob Connolly and Ashley Snow gave Romsey some crucial go-forward ball, which provided Scrum-Half Dan Penn-Newman with quick ball to feed his back line.

The first half went by quickly as, despite Andover playing at a higher level than Romsey, the home side still managed to play some rugby which put Andover on the back foot. Intelligent kicking from Full-back Dougal Trentham and Wingers Rich Ryan and Will Farthing gave Romsey some territory and space from their own line, but this was not enough as Andover used their physicality from the set-piece to allow their outside backs to scythe through Romsey’s defensive line. Romsey still kept coming though, with front Row forwards Darren Hall, Michael Peace and Will Riches attacking alongside second-row Nick Lawson and Matthew “Sparky” Sparkes laid in some crunching tackles on the Andover ball-carriers.

Romsey refused to leave the pitch without points and made two tries.

The addition of Jim Stent and Gus Layton gave Romsey some fresh legs, and their influence gave Romsey some quicker ball to work with. These tries were great for Romsey but could not upset the balance of the game with Andover coming out rightful winners at 74-12.

Romsey can take a lot out of this game, particularly in the way they held together as team despite the early run in of points by Andover. Romsey have one more game this season – Farnborough away, tomorrow – and they are still able to stay in Hampshire 1 as they are four points in front of Southampton at time of writing, and equal with the Isle of Wight who sit above them.

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