First Team lose to Farnborough 24-21
By Kenny Baughan
Southampton lose tight game away to Farnborough.
Southampton travelled to probably the furthest away match of the season with a strong squad filled with ball players across the pitch, however Farnborough big power runners proved a little too much out wide as they went top of the league.
The match started well with both sides making yards with ball in hand and the match was already taking its toll. Farnborough lost a prop very early on and SRFC tighthead Pete 'Tongy' Toland went down during a scrum in a scary moment. Seemingly passed out, during another dominant SRFC scrum, it turns out the Farnborough hooker kneed him in the end as he got popped up. This caused a reshuffle of the SRFC pack. Farnborough then broke the deadlock with an attack out wide as a prop scored in the corner. 5-0.
SRFC then replied with some real flowing moves and the forwards making ground. After minutes of pressure, and the first of some dodgy Farnborough tactics leading to penalties only sometimes, ended with a sweeping backs move that winger Kenny Baughan, in his final game, finished off. 5-7 to SRFC with Tom Morton's excellent conversion.
SRFC were now on top and more pressure led to the fullback finishing off and another conversion for a 14-5 lead to the away side. More poor organisation in SRFC's defensive line led to more line breaks for Farnborough's big runners and they scored in the same corner with another missed conversion to be 10-14 down. A big moment happened next with SRFC still on top when Pablo broke through and had options either side but held on to the ball too long allowing the full back to put him under pressure leading to a poor, high pass to Josh Rihan who couldn't quite hold on and dropped it under the posts. There were other opportunities in the half with SRFC's maul once again being brought down illegally, a common theme this season, and no major punishments being held out, along with Farnborough knock-ons which surely would have led to tries had they not happened. 10-14 half time.
Farnborough had been loud and aggressive all days, especially at ruck times with Rob Cheal having a bloody nose and many other players receiving some form of hit - that all went unpunished. The half time team talk was to try and ignore this and carry on playing the better flowing rugby - for some reason not one person did this. SRFC suddenly started chatting back to the ref, replying to Farnborough's 'banter' and giving away penalty after penalty whilst under pressure. Eventually, although seemingly unfairly on him personally, hooker Lawrence Green received a yellow card and Farnborough were 5m out. Amazingly SRFC defended this but then a missed touch kick led to Farnborough using their counting attacking speed and a high ball (one of many) went up only for the SRFC fullback to catch brilliantly - as he landed he was hit hard with a straight arm to the head and knocked down. As clear a high hit that has ever been seen with no disputes - however SRFC were amazed when only a yellow card appeared. The new laws surely mean a direct tackle attempt to the head, especially of a tall player who has barely landed, is a red card and completely unsafe.
Anyway, it was 14 men a side and Farnborough took advantage. Clearly they had read last week's match report with Aldershot's attempted Beauden Barrett kick pass (to a prop) attempt and thought one better. Their fly half was under pressure and had no where to go except the sky in the middle of the pitch - a kick out wide saw their winger running and catching the ball without breaking stride to the delight of the home fans. 17-14 to the home side. Farnborough were on a buzz now and another score was always inevitable with their scrum half scoring out wide to secure the bonus point and the match.
SRFC didn't give up and finally started playing with winger Jack Kaminski scoring after many phases of pressure which gained the losing bonus point.
This defeat was hard to take as the first half, apart from a couple of key missed tackles and one poor pass, was by far the best SRFC had played all season against a very good side. The start of the second half though once again left SRFC to having a wall to climb that was just too tall.