Southampton fielded a strong squad against an Aldershot & Fleet team that had shown positive results in recent weeks, but ultimately SRFC's good form, player recruitment and improved training sessions proved pivotal with a clear victory to end the year with a very positive result.
The game started tight with SRFC dominating territory but the set piece struggling to secure ball. Highlights included a chip and chase from returning winger Kenny Baughan with Steve Judd showing his class at 7 by following up to help push the Aldershot winger into touch after he caught the ball. Kenny had another great moment shortly after with the ball in hand this time, running maybe 75m past 5 or 6 defenders - a more accurate description would be running across the width of the field avoiding any opposition player he could find. Finally once he reached the other wing, a pass to Joe Butcher led to the full back running back the opposite direction much to the annoyance of the support SRFC forward pack.
SRFC continued to press and a big push on an Aldershot scrum 5m out from their own line led to a spill which Steve Judd decided to, kindly, knock on to even up the mistakes... on the next scrum SRFC decided to use the backs and finally get the first score through Coach Tom Morton. The flood gates soon opened. The tries were not all straight forward though, including Monty deciding to stop 2m short of the line when he had powered through the last 10m to allow his French comrade (Lucas Quiquempoix) to score instead. Lucas, the second row, clearly then got scared when he broke through after a confusing passage of play with multiple players offside from a poor Aldershot escape kick attempt, and almost stopped-still when clean through as he had never seen the goal posts so open and near before - he eventually was persuaded to keep running and score the try.
The first half also include Ian Budd making it a double of 2nd rows breaking through and was about to Tongan Sidestep the small full back before the ref called him back for a forward pass. Tom Morton, although solid from the tee, did decide to take a rather audacious 45m drop goal attempt (for no reason at all) which unsurprisingly missed the target.
The first half finished 40-0.
Second half subs included Sam Montague playing his first game of the season and showed his class with a 7s style chase and tap back from the opening kick off. SRFC made their only real mistakes of the game here, probably through complacency, by allowing Aldershot to break wide and through a few tackles to score their only points. Sam, although with a great performance in scoring 2 tries from centre as well as an ability to scare the opposition into not tackling him, did show off his wrestling skills by power driving a shorter opposition player into the grass - leaving a head shaped dent as he landed on top of the poor lad. Sam was rewarded with a 10 minute rest on the sidelines - which was a time SRFC showed some real quality by smartly controlling the match and actually scoring the only points during this time. The second half include Rob Ashby's debut try for the club. In the final minutes Aldershot were camped in SRFC's 22 but the defence held firm with the forwards really showing their strength.
SRFC showed real professionalism in the second half and at times real class in the application of the training ground moves into practice. Moving up to 6th and extending the unbeaten home run are great ways to end 2016 and give real optimism going forward.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!