Petersfield Rugby Club’s first team crashed to a comprehensive 109-7 defeat at home to Hampshire 1 league leaders Jersey last Saturday (February 4).
Petersfield entertained Jersey at Penns Place in a rearranged fixture from December 17, when frozen pitches caused many matches across the country to be rescheduled.
The league programme had included four free weekends – initially to coincide with England Rugby home internationals and to give the opportunity for the league programme to catch up should there be postponements.
Amateur club rugby is reliant upon fit, committed, available, players of all standards – many committed players take note of the free weekends at the start of the season and make use of these to arrange other activities including supporting the national team either at headquarters or through the media.
The free weekends also provide some respite for players who are recovering from or carrying injuries, and with 21 players injured Petersfield were forced to select any available players to fulfil this fixture against the league’s runaway leaders.
While doing this, Petersfield were also able to provide opposition at home – with assistance from some players from Portsmouth and Haslemere – to a mixed ability Worthing XV.
The first team match, as the scoreline would indicate, was a massive mismatch, with Jersey scoring a converted try within two minutes of kick off.
Petersfield’s restart was cleanly taken by Jersey, but in their enthusiasm to play an expansive game they launched a pass towards their right wing which was intercepted by Petersfield’s Jim Tribe.
Tribe found no one at home in Jersey’s defence and outran them to score under the posts – the try was converted by Archie Whitear. This gave a glimmer of hope to the players and support that they would not be totally outclassed.
At the end of the first quarter Jersey had advanced their score to 26, and by half time the score was 63-7.
By now any hope of Petersfield significantly closing the gap in scores was a forlorn hope, although the scratch team had not taken a step backwards and competed continually.
The second half just gave Jersey some more opposed training with all members of their team in a try fest – if nothing else to possibly go home with one of the largest points tally for their club.
Jersey – to their credit and without being patronising – remarked that their avalanche of high-scoring victories over all clubs in the league is not good for their player development nor for the other clubs in the league.
Head coach Vicky Alexander addressed the Petersfield players after the game. She said: “The first team put in the best defensive effort I’ve seen all season and made Jersey work hard around the edges to score.
“I’m proud of you all – thanks to everyone who was available to put a shirt on.”
Petersfield visit Gosport and Fareham today (Saturday) with, it is hoped, a few more players available from which to choose a first-team squad.