HAMPSHIRE RUGBY

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Match report by Richard V Isaacs



Royal Navy regained the Wightlink Bowl in clinical fashion as they ran in seven tries to beat Hampshire 48-22 in front of over 500 spectators at Basingstoke on Wednesday night.

The well-drilled Navy outfit produced some impressive rugby in their final match before their meeting with the Army at Twickenham in ten days time to leave Hampshire with plenty of questions ahead of their opening County Championship game on the same day.

Hampshire ran in four tries – two in the opening quarter and a pair in the last 12 minutes – but they were powerless in-between by the impressive ‘hosts’.

A neat passing move from beyond half-way saw Hampshire grab the early initiative and Winchester’s Greg Sullivan was on the end to put Hampshire on the board, added to by Joel Knight’s conversion.

Navy responded with a Gareth Rees penalty before Hampshire added their second score with Worthing scrum-half Ben Holt took a quick penalty and emerged from a pile of bodies with the ball.

But that was to be as good as it got for the men in blue as the Navy got a strong foothold into the game and scored seven tries either side of the break without response.

Their clean handling and quickness on the ball was catching the Hampshire defence ‘all at sea’ and centre Greg Lloydal went over for their first of four in 16 minutes.

A turn over 25 yards out allowed RN to quickly return to the attack and centre Seta Raumakita easily won the speed race to a kick ahead into the in-goal area and then a pair of tries eased the home side into a comfortable interval advantage.

Former Havant back-row Jarrard Hayler was the next on the Navy scorecard when his side stole a line-out and he scooted under the posts and then, from a line-out catch and drive, Ratu Vakalutukali drove over for a 29-12 half-time lead.

Both sides made plentiful changes for the second half but there was much of the same with the Navy running in two more scores in the opening nine minutes of the half through two of their replacements.

Youngster Ryan Boulton scored his first ever Navy try when his side found too much space in the Hampshire defence to stretch the advantage to 48-12 with still a quarter of the game to play.

However, Hampshire ended the game well, improving their defence and attacking imposingly, particularly when Jake Hewett and Curtis Barnes paired up down the left with a swift break which allowed Tottonians winger Dylan Baptiste on the right to score.

And Hampshire had the final say when Worthing’s former Portsmouth speedster Barnes outstripped the Navy defence to go over in the corner right on full time.

It was more than a good workout for both teams ahead of their forthcoming encounters and Hampshire’s coaches and management have plenty to consider before May 4 and their first game in Division One of the County Championship after securing promotion and their meeting with Hertfordshire at Gosport and Fareham.

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