By Connor Steel
GOSPORT & FAREHAM RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB (GFRFC) concluded their Hampshire League Premier 2021-22 campaign with a comfortable 31-11 victory over bottom side Locksheath Pumas on Saturday afternoon, securing a credible second place position in the table as Havant IIs completed a perfect season with twenty -two wins from 22 matches following a long and physical title race.
In sunny conditions at Southampton University Sports Ground, GFRFC didn’t get off to a good start as the Pumas won a penalty that was converted by their kicker after just two minutes following an offside decision; whilst this lead became six-nil just moments later when another penalty was kicked over from an angle. But the home advantage didn’t last long as GFRFC scored a try through George Firth as he dived into the corner, Callum Allardice making no mistake in slotting the conversion over.
Firth scored his second try on 18 minutes following good work from Dom Philo released the attacker, who evaded two defensive tackles on the five yard line before calmly diving over for another five points. Allardice again added the extras to make it 14-6 for the visitors, which soon changed after 13 minutes of Pumas’ defending; which ended when Jimmy Wallis piled over to make it 19-6 with the conversion missed in the final notable action of the first half as both sides settled for the break.
Locksheath Pumas started well after the interval and probed the GFRFC, gaining their reward in the 46th minute after a scrum fell into the kinds of their winger who dived in the corner; the kicker sadly missing the conversion to make the scores 11-19 to GFRFC. But the visitors responded brilliantly with a fourth try just five minutes later to secure a bonus point as Jonathan Flynn jinxed through a crowd of players before sliding over despite the best efforts of the home defenders in the twenty-two metre area.
Substitutions and fresh legs for both sides signalled a spell of good home possession, but they were unable to convert this into any meaningful pressure on the away defence; GFRFC absorbing a series of scrums with relative ease. This gave them a platform to score their final try of the afternoon with thirteen minutes left to play as the ball was played from left to right allowing Alex Jones to cross over down the right under the posts; Allardice adding the last points of the day and season to make it 31-11, which was how it ended after a quiet conclusion with the game already decided as a meaningful contest.
Mark Pollard’s side have automatically secured second place in the table with Bognor’s game against Sandown & Shanklin still to be played with an eleven point lead over third place; finishing with 19 victories and three defeats this campaign. It is uncertain whether there will be any play-offs or the slim chance of promotion for GFRFC, who must await the league table to be completely finished before any decisions are made by officials for the 2022-23 season set to start in early September.
PICTURED BY MARTIN BURNETT: Two sides meet at Dolphin Crescent back in September 2021 as GFRFC completed league double on Saturday afternoon after beating them 31-11 in Southampton.