First Team beat Southsea Nomads 34-7
By Kenny Baughan
Southampton stay top of the league with a battling bonus point win over Southsea Nomads at Test Park.
Having started the season with two wins from two, with almost 100% player availability to choose from and the weather on their side, Southampton were coming into the match full of hope that this might be the game when everything clicked into place. However, for the past few seasons Nomads have been a real thorn in the side of Southampton. This was once again true with Nomads coming out the blocks much faster punching holes across the pitch.
The attacks kept coming with Kenny Baughan covering across to the opposite wing to stop one attack, with the team as a whole proving the recent training work was useful as they kept out Nomads who had line outs and scrums on SRFC's 5m line. Some hope came when Nomads were forced into an early substitution or two which showed this tempo was hurting them. SRFC were making good plays as individuals but were not working as a team very well. Finally a lineout on halfway was followed up by some tight phases and a less panicked attack. The forwards showed their dynamism with some energetic carries culminating in veteran prop Kev 'Bean' Simmons getting tackled 3m from the line by twisting and grounding the ball behind his head for Tom Morton to convert.
Part of SRFC's first half issues were discipline with the team repeatedly getting pinged for side-entry at the ruck - arguably this was because of the good work at counter rucking but the new laws was enforced strictly. Simmons picked up his yellow card for a third offence 3mins before half time. Coaches Tom and Sherry had actually had a sin bin scenario as one of the mid week training games meaning the team were ready and knew the game plan. Amazingly these few minutes were some of SRFC's most dominate with two try-scoring opportunities missed. The first was controversial with scrum half Francesco trying to get quick ruck ball surely tackled and held in by an illegal player which then led to a sort of falling maul towards the line. Lots of shoving later the ball was on the line but the decision given was a double movement.
SRFC took the scrum and moved to the opposite corner only for big centre Tiago Dias to be hit into touch before he could ground the ball. 7-0 to the home side at half time.
Still down to 14 men, SRFC started the second half and killed off the game with two quick scores from flanker Josh Rihan under the posts after great work from the forwards (and some Nomad mistakes) and then full back Ryan Keary for a 19-0 lead. This quick start clearly took it out of SRFC as Nomads built up an almost endless set of phases with tired legs and heavy lungs of SRFC having their one lapse of the day for Nomads to run through the middle beating 3 tackles to score under the posts. 19-7.
SRFC did manage to start and settle the game, again down to 14 men with hooker Andy Trevis getting his first ever yellow card. Tom and Sherry probably did not think the team would take the 14 man scenario practice so literally when they did it at training! A Morton penalty wasted more time and extended the lead. Two high tackles and two quick penalties from Francesco later SRFC had a huge space on the left which was taken full advantage off as Kenny took a tackle offloading off the floor into the stampeding Chilean no. 8 Vincent Gonzalez to wrap around and get his well deserved try.
A final try from the student winger in the corner put clear daylight between the two sides. 34-7 full time.
The attacking play from Southampton is exciting and will challenge any side they face this year, but more work is needed to ensure the game plan is met from minute 0 to 80.
A big week lies ahead with a double Cup weekend, Ventnor at home in the Hampshire Cup and Reeds Weybridge, top themselves of Surrey 2, travelling down to Test Park in the RFU Junior Vase for what could be a hell of a match!