Both sides fought hard in atrocious conditions and at the final whistle Winchester were relieved to have maintained a 12-match unbeaten run while Eastleigh could justifiably feel robbed by the 10-3 result.
Winchester opened the scoring after just five minutes with a Rhodri Adamson penalty, but Eastleigh responded within minutes, Phil Baldwin’s penalty levelling the score and endorsing his side’s clear statement of intent.
All hopes of another memorable encounter between the two local rivals sunk in a North Walls Park quagmire and the opening flurry was reduced to 70 minutes of gruesome grit and grime.
“I am very keen to credit Eastleigh for the way they played in the conditions,” said Winchester coach Andy Fields, “along with the referee who allowed us to get on with it.” Eastleigh often looked most likely to break the deadlock but the final outcome of the game was influenced, in part, by Eastleigh’s reduction to 13 men; one of their number sent to the sin bin, a second stretchered from the field with a serious injury. Flank forward, Richard O’Donnell, was admitted to Winchester Hospital with a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula.
It was at this point that Winchester raised the tempo and exploited their numerical advantage and after concerted stoppage time pressure, No.8 Matt Gibson, pictured below, bustled his way over before Rhodri Adamson added the conversion.
Clive Downton reviews the weekend's rugby in today's Daily Echo