Southampton RFC started the season strongly with a thumping, but hard fought, 55-10 victory over Chineham RFC. With the good weather, Solent Uni trials and 2nd team game before hand, there was a large and boisterous Southampton crowd adding to the atmosphere.
Recruitment, and returning players, has been successful over the summer which was shown in the strength of the team put out - but also the, at times, fragmented and error-ridden performance. Chineham, seemingly playing a very similar gameplan, scored for an unconverted first score. With the wind behind them, SRFC stormed straight down the pitch finally getting the ball out into the backs with good hands and offloads leading to Match Day Captain winger Kenny Baughan cutting back inside from 10m out to score. Head Coach and Fly Half Tom Morton would slot his first of many conversions of the day.
The try of the day came early on as SRFC again used the wind to get territory into Chineham's 5m line. A poor, and slightly strange choice, high and long clearance kick from the Chineham Fly Half went up and backwards coming down right on their own try line. At this point Leo / Theo / Leon / Alex (whatever Sherry is calling him today) leapt like a salmon to catch the ball 8ft in the air, whilst being taken out, and somehow managed to land and ground the ball. Someone has clearly been watching Aussie Rules recently!
The 'WTF' moment of the day also came early as SRFC had a rolling maul 15m out going at a rate of knots, maybe too fast, with a try, or penalty try, a certainty. This was, however, until Club Captain and no. 8 Andy Campbell decided being at the back of the maul carrying the ball behind the pack shoving their way up was too hard and he needed a rest. Unfortunately he decided to drop to the floor before reaching the try line.
Anything in the middle of the park was fairly even between the two teams, but SRFC dominated out wide all day with David Bolle-Jones showing a clean pair of heels to sprint away down the left flank from halfway out to score which burst the crowd into full voice.
The 'Show Off' moment of the day can be given to Tom Morton. 21-5 up SRFC had a penalty on the halfway line and David stepped up having cleared 60m, with the wind, in the warm up. An unlucky miss led to Chineham clearing right to Tom on the halfway line. He had a set back line available but instead decided to show the fresher students how it is done and casually popped off a 50m drop goal straight down the middle. The crowd, fully warmed up, were now going mental with chants of "Tom is our leader" music to his ears.
The second half started in much the same manner, with SRFC now against the wind using more running plays which actually provided arguably a better platform to work off. Returning prop Tongy scored as well as *insert Sherry's name for him today.* SRFC's best set of phases of the day came as they marched up the field, kept a high tempo working across the full width before Tom took the ball, had dummy runners, but opted for out the back to Kenny looping round who took the contact and offloaded to a free Ryan Keary to run in from 5m out.
Second Row Ben Hosking had struggled during the day to catch kick offs but he did make up for it with an incredible break right through the middle of the park under the posts. Chineham did then bring one back by a quick drop goal was missed.
The final score was SRFC's though as, down to 14 men due to injuries, they managed to get big centre Tiago Dias out wide as he bashed his way through 3 tackles to somehow stay in touch and score in the corner.
A special mention must go to the man who took the final conversion. 8 years, many ups and down, playing almost every position, multiple end-of-season awards and simply our favourite Frenchman, Claremont 'Monty' Fontenaille made his final appearance from the club. He will be sorely missed and will hopefully be back in club colours when they return to Cartagena, Spain, for the 10s tournament again next May.