Proud Hampshire have shown what they are made of despite defeat to Kent
Ian Chandler insists that Hampshire have done themselves proud in their first-ever season in division one of the County Championship.
The senior coach watched his team put in another hugely-competitive display in their 35-26 defeat against Kent at Hooks Lane.
Though it was a third successive defeat Chandler feels the team have been far from disgraced.
With promotion and relegation decided over a two-year cycle of games he believes they can do enough to stay up next year.
He said: ‘I have nothing but praise for the players who have stepped up magnificently to the challenge.
‘Most of our team play at levels five and six and they have been competing against mainly National League players.
‘We have shown in all three games that we are good enough to compete at this level.
‘This season has also seen us learn a lot that we can take forward into next year.
‘The biggest lesson is that if you make a mistake you will get punished for it.
‘Also the pace of the games and the speed of decision making are different.
‘We learned again against Kent that you cannot afford to let your concentration levels drop during the whole 80 minutes.’
Hampshire started well and shocked the visitors by taking a sixth-minute lead.
A good move down the blind-side opened up a gap and winger Curtis Barnes used his pace to score. Joel Knight added the conversion.
The hosts remained on the front foot and continued to put Kent under pressure.
When the visitors finally realised they were in a game they responded with some superb rugby scoring two tries in as many minutes.
Winger Scott Morris hit back again for Hampshire before half time after superb defence had kept Kent out.
The powerful visitors stretched into a 32-14 lead in the second half.
Hampshire rolled up their sleeves and fought on.
Tries from James Wise and Harrison Young reduced the deficit to six points.
A late penalty though denied Hampshire a deserved bonus-point.
Chandler added: ‘All three games have shown the quality of our players and their ability to compete at this level. In the first game there was a little trepidation but we have grown as a team and as individuals.
‘The players are already looking forward to doing it all again next year. Though we lost all three games we were never disgraced.’