What a game! What a day at Winchester Rugby Club on Saturday! The 32 – 20 win against London Irish Wild Geese topped off a wonderful sporting occasion. It started with a match between Malones Tornadoes from Belfast and a Winchester side who played their first mixed ability game.

The Chairman’s lunch raised £1,600 for Rugby Against Cancer and £2,500 for Abby’s Heroes.

When the rugby kicked off, the first half was possibly the best rugby that Winchester have played all season. It had to be against this very canny, very imposing London Irish team who came back into the game. They threatened to overturn four tries to one half-time scoreline.

The first ten minutes saw strong defence as a physical Irish side had the best of the territory. Winch, perhaps a little on edge, flung the ball about looking for the miracle interception which ended with a penalty that put Irish into the lead. Winch then settled and set about their business, which was to win the scrum, lineout and turn over ball as they kicked for territorial advantage.

Deep in the Irish territory and awarded a scrum, Matt Golding picked and passed to Jacob Culley-Wilson who absorbed all that they threw at him and still managed to offload to the ever-impressive Alex Lee who scored.

Some amazing running rugby quickly followed which cut through the Irish defence almost at will. Irish struggled and were forced into defensive scrum on their 5-metre line; they lost and the weaving, darting Tom Forster dotted down.

Irish were rattled even further when captain Matt Golding started a run that took him from his own 22 line to the opposition's 22 where he was fouled by the full-back, who was yellow carded. Tommy Hare kicked through to make it a two-score lead.

Irish changed the tactic, kicking the high Garryowen ball and trying to create chaos. It did exactly that and a driving maul saw Matthew Cassin take them over the line.

Winch countered this kicking game with some more strategic placement. Half backs Tom Fieldsend, Connor Breen and full back Hare prodded the ball so that Winch were camped in the Irish half. There was no way out. Eventually the three combined and Hare took a long pass to go over in the corner. He had his kicking shoes on for the conversion!

Irish kicks were poor and Winch kept the pressure on. Their pack threatened at every opportunity and Golding took the ball over for dynamic prop Ben Turner to score the bonus point try before half time.

Both sides restarted with a few little mistakes – dropped ball, missed kicks and crazy offloads. Irish benefitted from the muddle and number four Brian Horan ran in under the posts. The kick succeeded and the drums sounded for the first and last time.

Momentum was still with the home side. Eventually Fieldsend had an opportunity. He ran, feinted and slipped through the tackles to touch down under the posts. The conversion took the score to 32 – 15. Irish weren’t done yet and a bruising final quarter ensued. Playing without inhibition, Cassein seized an opportunity to score.

Winch dug deep and when Connor Breen tapped the ball out they all knew they had been in a very special game.

The opposition were denied any league points and so Winch sit second just below leaders Jersey. They are away to Totton next week who beat them by the narrowest of margins last time out.