Havant Mariners crowned John Sneezum Veterans Trophy champions for fourth straight year
Havant Mariners retained the John Sneezum Veterans Trophy with a hard-fought 19-14 win against Trojans Vets at Trojans RFC.
It proved a tough challenge for the Mariners as they travelled west to face a rejuvenated opposition.
But Havant were crowned champions for the fourth successive year, much to the delight of captain James Hewett.
He said: ‘Maintaining what can only be an ageing team at veteran level is always difficult and preparations were made more difficult with an injury to fly half Pete Living in the warm up.
‘I am very proud of what we have achieved in beating a very powerful and more youthful Trojans side.
‘Most of this team have been playing together for several years and I think it was our experience that stopped us from panicking and allowed us to get the job done.
‘Credit must also go to Trojans for contributing to an enjoyable game of rugby and a superb advert for this competition.’
Trojans started the game with a slight wind advantage on a very heavy pitch.
Both sets of forwards were prepared for the physical battle that ensued in the opening 15 minutes.
As they fought for possession, they tackled and defended their gain lines well .
Trojans finally built up enough momentum to break the Havant defence and get the first try, adding the conversion to take a 7-0 lead.
Havant were quick to respond, attacking the Trojan half following the restart.
The visitors set up camp for the next five minutes and slowly drove the Southampton side back.
When another penalty was awarded, Havant struck quickly through Morgan who ran wide pulling the home defenders with him.
Excellent support from Barfoot and Mick Bacon secured the ruck and Elvy was quick to get the ball.
Quick hands in the backs and a good run inside from Duthie broke the Trojan defence and the Scotsman carried the ball over from two metres out.
Merritt was on hand to add the conversion and level the scores.
Rob Davey, at the age of 57, was introduced after Duthie cut his nose.
The final five minutes of the half provided Trojans with their best attacking phase of the match, but it was matched by the courageous tackling of the Havant defence.
It was now time for Havant to take the game to Trojans, slowly gaining the upper hand.
A big Havant scrum saw Davis feed Stapleton who, with a touch of genius, beat his man to create an overlap for Elvy to score.
The battle was fierce in the middle of the park, but the Mariners broke free again.
Hewett nearly scored with his first touch but was tackled at the last minute.
But Havant would seal the win 18 minutes from the end with a Merrett try, which he converted himself.
Trojans did not give up, scoring a try to leave Havant to see out a nervous final few minutes.
They were not to be denied, though, securing a fourth successive title.