Heathens make fine start to Hampshire Plate defence

Fareham Heathens began the defence of their Hampshire Plate title with a devastating 73-0 win over Petersfield at Penns Place.

Monday, 14th March 2016, 7:00 am
Jonny Stoppard. Picture: Mick Young (151327-16)

The hosts had no answer to the powerful Heathens who ran in 13 tries.

The only downside for the victors was a hamstring injury to Ryan Keary, who is likely to miss the next two or three weeks.

Bernie Rhodes missed the game because he was at Twickenham watching England beat Wales.

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However, the head coach was pleased with reports he received from his coaching team after the game.

‘Apparently we played some of our best rugby of the season,’ said Rhodes.

‘We showed great confidence, composure and discipline.

‘That resulted in nine first-half tries and the game was over as a contest by half-time.

‘There was a spell at the start of the second half when we let the game become too frenetic but soon retrieved the situation to add more tries.’

Winger Jashan Solanki led the way with a hat-trick and could have scored a fourth only to drop the ball over the try-line.

Fellow winger Tom Kay grabbed a first-half brace, with Jonny Stoppard also getting a double.

Andy Burns, Richard Green, Mike West, Dan Lee and Dan Baxter also claimed touchdowns.

The normally prolific Cam Guthrie managed just four of 13 conversions, though, with a number of the tries scored out wide.

Rhodes is optimistic Heathens can go on and secure a league and cup double.

‘If we carry on playing with confidence, then we remain in with a fighting chance,’ he said.

‘It isn’t going to be easy because our three final fixtures are all against tough opponents.’

Heathens travel to the Isle of Wight next Saturday.

After the Easter break they visit Chineham in what is likely to be a plate and league double-header.

They finish the season hosting Bognor and travelling to Millbrook – their two closest title rivals.