The Senior County XV go to Swanage next Saturday to play Dorset & Wilts knowing they have a real chance to progress further in the County Championships after a convincing 35-16 win over Middlesex at Portsmouth yesterday (9th May) writes Brian Seeney.


They survived a sustained second half fight back by the visitors and a red card for their Guernsey hooker Tom Ceillam on the hour.


And although Middlesex did score a try in the 70th minute for 28-16, Gosport & Fareham's winger Tom Lewis got a rare touch of the ball to end the visitors' hopes with a 73rd minute try which fly half Robbie Searle (Tottonians) improved.


Hampshire were 0-3 behind in the second minute but then put together a fine spell with their first try from flanker and skipper Rudi Kochanowski (Basingstoke).


Ten minutes later Hampshire ignored the chance of an easy penalty in front of the posts and prop Harry Cripps (Locks Heath Pumas) punished a sleeping Middlesex defence for the second Hampshire try.


Within three minutes the home side were really on top with a quick tap and go by Lewis Dennet (Hartpury College) for the third try which like the previous two was converted by Searle.


Middlesex finally scored a try on 42 minutes then a penalty six minutes later following a yellow card for Hampshire number eight Gavin Hart (Locks Heath Pumas) and 21-11 at the break.


Middlesex tried hard to press home their one-man advantage but a try on 54 minutes by Dan Stocks which his club-mate Searle converted, took Hampshire to 28-11. Then came the red card and a second Middlesex try (70 minutes) before Lewis calmed nerves and Searle's boot sealed it.


"For some reason we lost a bit of energy just before and after half time when we were justifiably down to 14 because it was a third offence in rapid succession in the red zone and Gavin took a team card," said County Manager Ed Neville.


"However we made some substitutions towards the end of the yellow card period and it seemed to reinvigorate the team and from then on we never looked back.


"We did concede an early penalty but then a wonderful tackle by Jack Ward-Golden (Havant) when he really knocked one of their guys backwards must have made them (Middlesex) wonder what sort of game they were in.


"We really took it to them immediately after that moment in terms of physicality and running from deep which are all things you really like to see in a rugby match.


"We needed that win to avoid our next game being a dead rubber when it would have been difficult to motivate the lads. Now we really fancy our chances next Saturday."

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