Pumas close in on successful title hunt

Locks Heath Pumas star Stuart Forbes
Locks Heath Pumas star Stuart Forbes
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Locks Heath Pumas put one hand on the Hampshire League division two title and closed in on promotion to the top flight with a 22-3 win over Fawley on Saturday.

Stuart Forbes took his try tally to 21 for the season with another hat-trick as the visitors collected a bonus point in the victory.

A home success against promotion-chasing rivals Ventnor next weekend will now guarantee Jim Pearce’s side the title and promotion.

Forbes has been a revelation for the Pumas since joining in the summer and a key figure in their success.

Pearce was quick to point out the contribution made by his flying winger in his first season with the club.

‘We were fortunate he moved into the area with his job as a doctor,’ said the Locks Heath head coach.

‘He is the brother-in-law of someone I used to play with at Portsmouth and he pointed him in our direction.

‘As soon as he turned up we could see he was an out-and-out sprinter.

‘His game is more than just pace, though, and he has shown himself to be an excellent finisher and defensively very strong.

‘He is just what you want on the left-wing.

‘We know if we get the ball to him something will happen.’

It took 20 minutes before the Pumas bared their claws with an opening try from Adam Parks.

The loose-head prop forward forced his way over from five yards but Nick DeStefano missed the conversion.

Before half-time Forbes went over for the first of his tries with DeStefano succeeding this time in adding the extra points.

This left the Pumas sitting pretty with a 12-0 lead at the break.

Fawley hit back with a penalty immediately after the interval.

But midway through the second half the game came to a halt when a home player suffered a serious knee injury.

The match was delayed for nearly an hour, with suggestions it could be abandoned.

Pumas captain Liam Moggeridge, however, persuaded the referee to continue and Forbes added two more tries – one with the final play of the game.

‘It will be unforgivable if we don’t go up after getting ourselves into this position,’ said Pearce.

‘We have taken great strides forward as a club and are ready to move up to the next level.

‘The influx of a number of quality, experienced players has helped in this respect.

‘Throughout the season we have picked up increasing momentum and it will be a tragedy if we fail now.

‘All our focus is on making sure we win the next game and then we can’t be caught.

‘After we have done that maybe we can aim to go through the campaign unbeaten.

‘It is up to us to go out there and get the job done.’