Fareham Heathens buzzing for exciting plate contest with home final the target

Fareham Heathens are targeting a place in the Hampshire Plate final as they host Ellingham & Ringwood at Cams Alders on Saturday (1pm).

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 9:14 am
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 10:19 am
James Whitefield. Picture: Duncan Shepherd

Both teams have an added bonus of knowing the winners will get home advantage in the final.

Player coach Dave Wheaton is keen to get his hands on the trophy again.

He said: ‘The lads are up for this eagerly awaited fixture.

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‘There is not only a place in the final to play for but the winner of this encounter will host the final on April 13. 

‘That just gives a little bit extra to the tie and there is a buzz around the camp at the moment.

‘With lots of players available to choose from it has been a selection headache.

‘Heathens value this competition highly having won it three times and been runners up in the past.

‘It would be great to see the plate in the Heathens trophy cabinet once more.’

Kris Owens, who continues to impress, moves back to inside centre alongside skipper Rob Impey who returns from work commitments.

Though Heathens have been trying out various centre partnerships this one has been their strongest pairing to date.

If they can get good clean ball from the forwards then the centres can cause havoc.

Harry King has been passed fit and returns at number eight with the powerful James Whitefield (blindside) and strong running Rikky Curtis completing the back row.

Curtis has only been playing for two seasons but has really impressed with his ball carrying skills and strong running lines,

Wheaton added: ‘I’m expecting big things from him on as he gives us that go-forward ball and platform for our backs to work from.’

Jacob Bailey has proved a valuable find at hooker after stepping in to the position from loosehead prop because of an injury.

He has rightfully made the position his own.

Wheaton and James Gardner, at second row, will provide the driving force from the engines at the scrum.

Heathens are in good shape and Wheaton believes they will be flying on Saturday.

He said: ‘We are expecting a tough battle up front and are fielding a strong pack. 

‘This is where I feel we can dominate and feed the backs the clean ball they need.

‘Ellingham will be no easy target having only lost just twice in the league all season.

‘That counts for nothing in cup games but it will be a tough encounter for the lads and complacency is not an option

‘We need to do the basics well, control the game and play as a team.

‘There is a confident trust and belief running through the team.’