Havant Hold on to Their First Half Lead
Positive rugby in extremely challenging conditions and a valiant effort from the Mariners saw Havant RFC held in a deadlock in the second half on what was a very wet evening at HMS Collingwood. However three tries by the visitors in the first half meant the final score went against the Mariners, 0 - 19.
From Havant taking the first kick of the game (which went straight out) it quickly became clear that this would be a closely contested battle in the set piece. A fired-up Havant came out in force with players seeking to demonstrate their eligibility to play in their forthcoming Hampshire Cup Final. The Royal Navy Mariners responded well and some large, crunching hits by both sides marked what was a very physical game.
Five minutes on the clock and a Mariners' put-in at the scrum led to the kick to touch being charged down by the visitors. Havant's No8 (John Barfoot) dived over between the posts to score the first try (converted by Havant's No13 Andy Woolhead), 0 - 7.
A Mariners' restart soon followed by Havant returning a kick to touch. The Mariners needed to make an early change following an intensely physical phase of play with Mobray coming on to replace the injured Jamie Campbell-Baldwin. Line-outs tested the two evenly-matched sides in an increasingly muddy melee. After 25 minutes and the inevitable knock-ons by both sides in the slippery conditions, Havant pinned down the Mariners with a kick to touch deep into the home side's half. A line-out taken by Havant saw the ball in the hands of Havant's left wing, Adam Terry, who darted between the posts to score the second try of the half (again converted by Woolhead), 0 - 14.
Just 5 minutes after the restart, a Havant breakout from the back of a quick lineout propelled their loosehead prop, Justin Powell, to go over for the third try. The Mariners' tenacity from the restart with ball in hand helped them to burrow deep into Havant's 22 but despite all their determination a penalty was given the other way. Still camped in Havant's half the clock ticked down to the referee's whistle. The score at half-time was Mariners 0 - 19 Havant RFC.
If the first half was closely contested then the second half was even more so. A Havant scrum concluded with a penalty being awarded to the Mariners. Following an exchange of kicks from both sides Havant was again penalised in the subsequent scrum. The run of play going with the Mariners, Havant's No8 was penalised for coming around the side of a maul. The Mariners made a further incursion deep into the other half with a rolling maul which was brought down and the resulting penalty kick to the corner saw the Mariners poised 5 metres out from Havant's try line. Pressure led to a passage of play culminating at the end of the third quarter with a fine run with ball in hand by Smith and Boyce which penetrated Havant's 22. But the pressure exerted by the Mariners in the second half didn't turn into points despite a solid performance in the scrum and line-out. Final score Mariners 0 - 19 Havant RFU.
After the match the Mariners' team manager, Andy Holmes, explained: "We're going to take away the positives from this, especially from the performance the team put in during the second half."
Havant's team captain, James Hewitt, said: "It was hard and physical but it's always a good game against the Mariners."
The Mariners’ final fixture before the Inter Service competition begins is against Torbay Sharks at Devonport Services on 22 Mar 17. Kick Off is at 1915. All spectators are welcome.
Mariners: Cozens, England, Geldard; Riley, Mortenson; Milford, Hillman, Smith; Dawson, Mardle; Laliano, Boyce, Campbell-Baldwin, Croet, Sayer.
Replacements: Jones, Lister, Dean, White, Kewn, Stokes, Melhuish, Clark, Bond, Mobray, Smith J
Havant RFC: Powell, Hewitt (c), Golden; Sowerby, Thatcher; Radbourne, Whittle, Barfoot; Davies, De Steffano; Terry, Gains, Woolhead, Living, Campbell
Words by Jon Wheale
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland