Heathens put in the extra effort for trophy success

Andy Burns played through the pain barrier
Andy Burns played through the pain barrier
Portsmouth Valkyries take on Reading on Saturday. Picture: Simon Newsham

Valkyries bullish heading into Reading clash

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Fareham Heathens pulled off a dramatic 14-11 extra-time win over Chineham to lift the Gales HSB Hampshire Plate trophy.

Cam Guthrie held his nerve to knock over an extra-time penalty to edge Heathens home in a close contest.

Coach Bernie Rhodes was delighted to see his team go one better than the previous year when they lost to Farnborough in the final.

The team showed their battling quality – epitomised by the efforts of Andy Burns who played on with a broken hand.

‘We had to do it the hard way, playing the final on the opposition’s ground,’ said Rhodes.

‘It was a bruising battle on a rock hard pitch but we showed the character to come through it.

‘Chineham had a massive pack of forwards and both packs went at it hammer and tongs.

‘It probably wasn’t one of our best performances.

‘But on the day, rugby was the winner.

‘There was a great atmosphere and we took two coach loads of supporters, making it feel more like a home game.’

Playing up the slope in the first half, Heathens only led by a Guthrie penalty at the half-way stage.

Chineham took charge at the start of the second half, scoring a try and a penalty to open up an 8-3 lead.

Heathens hit back with their only try of the game when slick handling by the three-quarters resulted in a try by winger Jaz Solanki.

‘I wasn’t happy that he started celebrating before he put the ball down,’ said Rhodes.

‘It wasn’t good for my blood pressure.’

For the final 10 minutes Heathens found themselves up against it after going down to 14 men.

Tom Baldwin was yellow-carded only two minutes after going on as a replacement for careless use of a boot at a ruck.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Rhodes’ team tackled like demons and defended for their lives to keep Chineham at bay.

With tension mounting in extra-time, both teams kicked a penalty before Guthrie fired over the winning kick.

‘Winning it tastes sweet after last year’s disappointment,’ said Rhodes.

‘It means a lot to us as a club and it caps off a good season.

‘We have consolidated ourselves back in Hampshire one and now added some silverware.

‘These are exciting times at the club, with plans to develop the Cams Alders site, in partnership with Fareham football club.

‘There is a fantastic atmosphere in the club.

‘We are looking to stregthen our coaching set-up and attract more players to the club.

‘At the moment we field two senior sides but I am looking to increase that and include an ‘A’team to give us a bit more depth.

‘If we can do that then it will help push us further on as a club.’