Eastleigh are on course to cap a record-breaking season with cup success after reaching the Gales Hampshire Bowl final with a 12-0 victory over Sandown & Shanklin at The Hub.
After finishing in their highest ever league position – third in London 3 South-West, Eastleigh will face either Ellingham & Ringwood or Southampton University Medics in a battle for the silverware.
Two Phil Baldwin penalties gave Eastleigh a 6-0 semi-final lead just past the hour mark before Jon Lynch took over kicking duties and scored a double of his own to secure the win.
“It’s fantastic for the players and supporters to have reached the Hampshire Bowl final,” said head coach Andy Boyes.
“We produced a strong, disciplined performance today and didn’t allow Sandown & Shanklin to play. “They never entered our 22 throughout the game and we limited them to only one kickable penalty attempt.
“Our scrum was excellent again and we had them going backwards for much of the game. Our backs’ defensive line was superb, stopping them breaking the gain line.”
The 3-0 advantage at half-time scarcely reflected the home side’s excellent play that saw Sandown & Shanklin camped in their own half for about 20 minutes.
After Baldwin narrowly missed a penalty attempt in the first ten minutes, the fly-half made sure at the second attempt after half-an-hour to give Eastleigh a deserved lead.
The Isle of Wight outfit’s only opportunity to score came five minutes later, but the penalty was kicked wide of the posts.
The away side’s strength in defence was proving pivotal in frustrating Eastleigh and preventing them taking a bigger lead. Two excellent cross-field kicks from Baldwin nearly put winger Lynch in, but the ball didn’t bounce well on either occasion as they went searching for a try.
As Eastleigh dominated winger Ash Holland had two excellent runs, beating several players before he was halted.
The pressure finally paid off on 65 minutes as Boyes’s side won a penalty. Baldwin took the kick, notching his second of the day make it 6-0, following a dominant scrum.
Moments later Lynch took over the kicking duties and converted a penalty – awarded after a Sandown player threw a punch – to make the score 9-0. Lynch then completed his double and the scoring, stepping up to kick another penalty and take the final score to 12-0.