Hampshire KO Cup – Final
Havant v Bournemouth
Saturday, 31 March 2018, KO 1pm at Hooks Lane
Result: Havant 25/3t2c2p v 0 Bournemouth
HT: 3/p v 0
Disappointing Reprise of the 1975 Final
Bournemouth: Johnny O’Hehir, Harry Davis, Freddie Gleadowe, Danny Kirkpatrick, Alex Everett-Bolter Grant Hancox/C, Sammy Veneroso, Tom Napier, Alan Manning, Ryan Hughes, Jo Burns, Adam MacDonald, Conrad Carkeet, Alexander Bennett, Jack Hennings. Substitutes: Pat Fraser, Jack Palmer, Joe Rees, Joe Spiller, Alex Sutherland, Mike Treloar, Josh Wright. Touch Judges: Tim Bailey and Simon Aldridge, Hampshire. DoR: Will Croker. Coach: Jon Sanchez. Medical Team: Andy Curtis. 1st XV Debut: Josh Wright.
Referee: Simon Priestley, Hampshire.
Those familiar with 1st XV will recognize that the above has unfamiliar look about it with players being ‘rested’. Joe Rees came in as a late replacement for the unavailable David McDonald was the one change from the team published.
The weather was pretty cool and overcast with very little, if any, breeze. Underfoot it was very soft and required hard early morning work by the hosts to make the pitch playable.
Havant kicked off from left to right as viewed from the stand and to their left.
Bournemouth started the match brightly but found it hard to break down a determined Havant defence. Fly-half Hancox had a ‘pop’ at goal after quarter-of-an-hour but pulled his effort from the Havant 10m line to the right of the near post for a Havant 22m drop-out. Any Bournemouth move from the set piece was very quickly closed down giving very little chance to exploit the possession but, what’s more, Havant began to show their teeth as they got more in the game. Full-back Darren Bamford gave a hint of the danger that was lurking with a strong break deep into the Bournemouth half. Although fly-half Reuben Knight failed to find touch when Bournemouth were penalized trying to nullify the threat they attacked strongly from a line-out following Hancox’s clearance left. Havant attacked first left then right and were almost over in the corner only for referee Simon Priestley playing advantage to bring play back for a Havant penalty 27 metres out and in front of the post. Inside centre, who kicked well all afternoon, slotted the ball home for Havant to take a 3-nil lead after less than half-an-hour. Bournemouth’s attack continued to founder of the rocks of the Havant defence and the frustration was exemplified when a ‘not straight’ at an attacking line-out brought the half to an end.
Bournemouth found themselves under pressure right from the restart. Havant held up over the line down their right as a desperate Bournemouth defence just managed to prevent the score. Desperate situations demand desperate solutions and Bournemouth changed their props but in addition Sammy Veneroso retired with an injured ankle to be replaced by Hancox with O’Hehir, having been replaced by Sutherland at half-time, returning to the fray. It was all to little avail as an increasingly confident Havant back line went left and full-back Bamford was over in the corner. Knight kicked an excellent goal from a metre from the touchline. 8-nil a couple or so minutes into the half. Not disastrous but troubling. What was troubling was Havant came straight back and did the same again with some great support play and passing interchanges that saw outside centre Scott Morris over under the posts. Knight kicked the goal for a 17-nil lead and Bournemouth needed three scores to gain a lead but there was time to do it, some 35 minutes. I don’t know what hymn sheet Havant were singing from but for certain it wasn’t Bournemouth’s. Havant attacked strongly from the restart but were penalized and Hancox found touch to his left inside the Havant 22m. Strive how they might Bournemouth could not break down the Havant defence. In fact they were at full stretch to contain the Havant threat and in particular right wing Jerome Rudder who made far too many inroads into the Bournemouth defence for comfort. The lively winger was brought up just a metre or so short of the line after a mazy run on one notable occasion and Bournemouth were pleased that referee Priestly penalized Havant as they tried to support him. It was trying to stop the same danger man that Bournemouth were penalized and from some 30 metres or so out and in front of the posts Knight banged his fourth nail into the Bournemouth coffin to give his side a 20-nil lead with perhaps five minutes left. Bournemouth’s sorry afternoon was summed up when having lost the ball from a scrum on Havant’s 22m, a Havant chip through was picked up by Rudder and he put Richard Janes, who I might say had been a thorn in Bournemouth’s side all afternoon, into space and the big lock galloped away into the sunset, well there would have been one if it wasn’t so cloudy. Inexplicably Knight managed to miss the kick but it hardly mattered, Havant were deserved winners 25-nil.
No fairytale ending for this nostalgic trip down memory lane then. Disappointing. What wasn’t disappointing though was seeing so many faces from the past and so much catching up to do. I was only sorry I had to dash away. We were also very grateful for the generous hospitality shown by both the Hampshire RFU and Havant. Thank you. Our next league match is away to Brixham on 7 April, KO 3pm and our last home match is on 14 April against Newton Abbot, KO also 3pm. Whatever we feel about the disappointment today brought, we still have much to play for in this league season.