Leaders’ Christmas bonus

First published in Rugby Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Rugby correspondent and sub-editor

There were no Christmas surprises in Snows Group Hampshire 1 as the promotion-chasing teams took last weekend’s pre-match positions into 2014.

The top four clubs all recorded victories before the festive break while US Portsmouth and Farnborough swapped places at fifth and sixth.

Leaders Andover dealt with a potential banana skin in emphatic style with an eight-try destruction of Farnborough, winning 56-5.

The big visiting pack was dismantled by Andover who scored in the first minute through Elliott Copestake and never looked back in a bonus-point victory. Further tries from skipper Alex Morgan, Tom Waite, pictured below, a brace from Paul Tuinasakea, Niko Rowe, Rich Retallick and a second from Copestake sealed matters with Retallick also kicking 16 points. Matemosi Bone grabbed the consolation for a well beaten Farnborough.

Team Solent are just a point off the top following a 55-29 home win over the Isle of Wight.

The students raced to a 30-point lead in windy conditions with tries from Tom Morton (2), skipper George Knight, Number 8 Josh Berry and winger Tom Brind. Rob Walters added four conversations and a penalty with the boot.

More tries followed after the break from George Scott, Ryan Walter and a second from Tom Brind.

However, the game was not all one-way traffic as the IoW never gave up and finished with some fantastic rugby of their own, crossing the line three times.

Millbrook held on to third spot when they defeated neighbours and arch rivals Southampton.

Saints took the battle to Brook in the first 20 minutes, making lots of battering runs with their big pack, but it was all Millbrook for the remaining 60 minutes.

Mike Trench and Tom Colling got on the scoreboard before Rich Colmer went over the line twice in the first half, converting all four to lead 28-0 at half-time.

The second half saw the scores to continue to tick over. Rich Colmer added a further two, captain Mike Randell crossed the line twice, Mike Trench went over for his second and Mark Colmer also touched down.

Rich Colmer’s trusty boot also kicked all the second half conversions for a 70-12 win.

Southampton scored two tries from forward drives.

Fordingbridge feel they are in position to launch an assault on the title in the new year after their latest victory – winning 44-24 at Romsey.

For the second successive week the ’Bridge scored eight tries – six before half-time when they led 34-7.

The match had to be switched to an adjoining field, with a Romsey player lying injured on the pitch and waiting for an ambulance.

Fordingbridge attacked from the start – scoring three tries in the first 11 minutes, with Joe Brewer going over on the right wing, prop Bobby Brown racing through the middle to score near the posts and second-row forward Alex Tattersall doing likewise. Steve Brown landed two conversions to put Fordingbridge 19 points up and in control.

To their credit Romsey partially weathered the storm and scored a try through Jim Lamont which Rob Heighway converted. However Bridge continued to dominate – especially at scrum-time – and No. 8 Rob Hay drove over for a bonus-point try. Winger Mike Grimes sped over on the left for a fifth try before he had to go off with a head injury, and man-of-the-match Hay crossed the line again after another forceful scrum.

In the second half Romsey also picked up a bonus point by scoring three more tries through Alex Lee, Will Farthing and Lamont again, the last converted by Heighway.

Bridge had the last word with further tries from Tim Brittan and a second for Tattersall.

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