After the league leaders Overton went bragging of travelling down south for a "comprehensive away win" on their pre match Facebook page, SRFC put in the performance of the season to upset the visitors and go some way to getting revenge on the previous very one-sided defeats in recent times.
SRFC fielded their strongest squad of the season, as shown by the strength of the 2nd team squad also playing at home which included many players that have been key to 1st team victories earlier in the season.
The match itself was a proper game on rugby, with a soft, but in good condition, pitch and little wind allowing Southampton to show off some of their backs moves which proved successful early on with breaks down the right flank freeing up Kenny Baughan to gain valuable territory with ball in hand. SRFC quickly identified the Overton back three were struggling to catch the ball when kicked with the sun in their eyes which allowed kicking to be a key game plan.
Handling errors were costing Southampton until a great team move from a loose ball, with quick hands and multiple line breaks nearly led to a score in the corner. There seemed to possibly be a high tackle stopping SRFC scoring but in the mayhem Tom Morton managed to spot a gap himself and score under the posts. Overton were clearly so shocked at the start Southampton made they didn't even both to chase down (or watch) Tom's conversion. 7-0.
Overton were fired up and clearly the physically bigger team which showed as they replied soon after with breaks through the middle with their big forward runners and SRFC struggling to chop them down. 7-7.
Everyone knew though that there was a real match on by this point. Overton's big experienced forwards had been dominating the driving mauls and scrums but were beginning to tire and walk to every set piece. Whereas Overton had a 90 minute full warm up prior to the game, possibly due to a lack of recent training due to the poor weather conditions, and were clearly more up for the physical battles early on, SRFC had been training hard twice a week and knew their fitness would prevail. This showed with the forwards starting to get their fair share of the physical battles.
Much to most people's amazement Tom Morton elected to kick a penalty from the left touchline which he beautifully slotted over to restore SRFC's lead. His confidence was at an all time high. SRFC then defended this lead till half time by a dogged try line defensive set that went on and on. Overton had every method, 5m line outs, scrums, tap penalties and backs moves but none of them could break through the SRFC line. 10-7 half time.
Another key difference between the teams was the replacements. SRFC had strong but fit players as good as their starting counterparts who came on and made an impact immediately. No 8 Harry Sievewright had a break from the half way line that almost ended with a try. David Bolle-Jones started to disrupt the Overton line out with his incredible leaps and scored a try around the side of Overton. With Tom also slotting a penalty from in front of the posts, it was 20-7 to the home side.
SRFC continued to dominate the territory and Overton were starting to get rattled with more and more unnecessary penalties but SRFC just couldn't convert any of their chances to finally put the game to bed. As the game neared the end, an Overton forward was sent off for throwing a punch right in front of the referee but this only encouraged Overton even more to run hard and straight at SRFC. Credit must go here to the entire SRFC team for their defence. Hit after hit with the forwards especially smashing back men twice their physical size....but who had half the fight of SRFC.
Overton did eventually manage to score out wide but a missed conversion with 2 minutes to go allowed Southampton to realise victory was close. One final wave of Overton attacks led to a strange decision to go for touch from a penalty rather than a kick at goal and the losing bonus point (when there literally was not enough time to get the 2 scores required to win the match) led to frustration in the Overton's coaches ranks.
Wild celebrations on the pitch and in the changing rooms followed as Southampton were victorious 20-12.
It did not feel right to mention any mistakes in this report, or specific reference to any of the recent results between the two teams, because this is a big day for the club and hopefully a turning point going forward. Overton gave incredible effort and there is not a man on either team who gave less than 100%, but the effort SRFC have put into training and recruitment is really starting to show.
Man of the match was prop Jack Caunt who put in a hell of a shift, especially in the loose, but really all of the forwards deserve it for the way they fought.
The club's transformation continues.