Counties Two Hampshire rugby: Ellingham & Ringwood victory deals huge New Milton title blow
Counties Two Hampshire
Ellingham & Ringwood RFC 45
New Milton RFC 32
ELLINGHAM & Ringwood dealt local rivals New Milton a massive blow in their hunt for the league title, defeating them 45-32 as the campaign enters its final month.
New Milton, who have two games left, still sit atop the table, but it is far from over, with fourth-placed E&R nine points behind with four left to play.
In an intense atmosphere at the Raymond Brown Memorial Ground, New Milton drew first blood when a quickly taken penalty allowed flanker Josh Lines to break through and score.
Falling behind kicked Ellingham into action, and their forwards started to dominate play. Their control reaped reward when openside flanker Andrew Lorton crashed over to level the scores.
New Milton came straight back and, from a ruck after a line-out on Ellingham’s 10-metre line, number eight Jude Payne broke away but was caught just short of the try-line. However, support runners were there to collect the ball before the backs spun it out to centre Charlie Jewiss, who touched down in the corner for a try, converted by scrum-half Adam Lavis.
Ellingham fought back and dominated the rest of the half, with number eight Stuart Pearce scoring their second following some great work by the forwards, while winger Chris Frost kicked the conversion to once again level the scores.
At this stage, Ellingham lost prop Tom Sampson to injury and, shortly after, centre Danny Patrice suffered a concussion.
New Milton started conceding penalties, and when a kickable opportunity arose, Ellingham captain Henry Benson summoned Frost to put them ahead for the first time in the game.
Pearce then forced his way over for his second try, which Frost also converted for a half-time score of 22-12.
New Milton struck first in the second half, slotting a penalty through the uprights to reduce the deficit to seven. However, rather than being a springboard, New Milton gave several penalties away, Frost kicking two to extend Ellingham’s lead.
With the wind in their sails, Pearce crashed over for his third, which Frost converted, before Ellingham scored their fifth and final try, Will Jenkins running from deep.
The one-way traffic continued after another penalty, with Frost slotting home to give the hosts a 45-15 lead, and it looked as if the game was over.
However, New Milton had other ideas, and after winning a line-out, Nick McQueen broke through to touch down, with Connor Hammerstone converting well.
Milton started to look like their usual selves, and after a scrum on the Ellingham 10-metre line, Charlie Jewiss used his pace to burst clear and score before prop forward Tom Gould brushed off multiple tackle attempts to touch down.
Gould immediately received the ball again from the kick-off, but this time, the Ellingham defence stopped his dangerous running, bringing the match to an exciting conclusion.
New Milton will hope to return to winning ways when they host Fordingbridge, while Ellingham & Ringwood travel to face Sandown & Shanklin. Both matches are on Saturday.
Ellingham & Ringwood: T. Sampson, A. Payne, D. Budd, M. Treloar, J. Fisher, A. Lorton, L. Nicholls, S. Pearce, S. Veneroso, T. Veneroso, C. Frost, D. Partrice, W. Jenkins, J. Kelly, H. Benson. Subs: B. Carey, T. Johnson, R. Ticehurst.
New Milton: T. Gould, S. Bew, E. Hynd, B. Steers, J. Corbett, J. Lines, D. Mallard, J. Payne, A. Lavis, C. Brown, A. Everett-Jackson, C. Hammerstone, C. Jewiss, J. Eldridge D. Thomas. Subs: H. Chung, N. McQueen, C. Wood.