All-round display seals Ellingham victory

By Connor Steel

GOSPORT & FAREHAM RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB (GFRFC) were victorious in their penultimate home match of the 2021-22 campaign, beating fifth place Ellingham & Ringwood 47-9 in a dominating display at Dolphin Crescent. It was also another bonus point win for Mark Pollard’s team, scoring eight tries throughout the afternoon to maintain their ambitions of finishing second in the final Hampshire Premier standings.

GFRFC started brightly under grey skies and took the lead after just five minutes, Robert Ellis again involved as he traded passes with his teammate before diving over the tryline for the first score. An extra two points were added by Dominic Holling for the conversion, as were another three from a penalty kick after an away player dived into the tackle from the side; making the score ten-nil to the hosts in the 14th minute of play.

In response Ellingham & Ringwood won their own penalty following offside at a scrum, which was easily dispatched by the away kicker from a slight angle; using this as the spark for a decent spell of possession in the home half. But GFRFC weathered this storm and regained control in the midfield as an offload found Ellis, who bounced off his defender with relative ease and over the line to score his eighth try in his last three league matches including two hat-tricks.

Shaun Taylor added the conversion with the boot to make it 17-3 after twenty-three minutes, a score that remained as both sides cancelled each other out in a hard-fought battle. It stayed like this until the 38th minute when the visitors won a penalty in a dangerous position, taking the kick rather than the lineout in the five yard area. The kicker Frost again made no mistake in firing over the posts, the score 17-6 at the half time break with the next score crucial for either side.

GFRFC scored their third try of the afternoon within sixty seconds of the restart as Joseph Wales won the ball and advanced though to touch down; Taylor missing the conversion this time around. And although this lead was reduced slightly as the away kicker fired over his third penalty, the bonus point try for the hosts was secured as Taylor increased his points haul driving through a crowded area before touching down; making it 27-9 after fifty minutes of play and arguably sealing the victory.

Credit should be paid to Ellingham and Ringwood’s efforts as they held firm for the next 15 minutes as cold winds picked up around the pitch; with their defensive resolve faltering when a player was sin binned for a high tackle on 63 minutes. This was an advantage that GFRFC used to full effort as they scored two further tries before the 70 minute mark, both Jimmy Wallis and Robert Mackinnon scoring diving efforts to make it 37-9 with ten to play as the kicker missed both conversions available.

GFRFC probed around for the majority of the final moments, patiently waiting for space to open up with tiring legs; a tactic that brought success on 78 minutes when Ash Wakefield slotted over. And in the final action of an entertaining afternoon Taylor added his second try of the match as he dived forward after a scrum was worked into his hands; again the missed conversions for both late tries not making any impact on the score as the hosts ran out comfortable winners after 80 minutes.

The victory means GFRFC remain second with just three matches to go, hoping for a miracle if they are to overtake Havant IIs at the top of the table. The side will travel away to Alresford on Saturday, before taking a two week break until March 26th; where they are scheduled to host Fordingbridge at home. GFRFC will round out the 2021-22 campaign with an away trip to bottom side Locksheath Pumas, this game currently being played on April 2 as the season reaches its climax.

PICTURED BY MARTIN BURNETT: Home attackers attempt to break through very stubborn Ellingham defending, before a flurry of late tries added some needed gloss to the score; ending 47-9 on Saturday.