Eastleigh belied the two-league gap to dump local rivals Trojans out of the Gales HSB Hampshire Cup with a hard-fought 17-11 triumph on Sunday.
The home side, fielding just four players who claimed a morale-boosting London 1 South win at Old Colfeians 24 hours previously, certainly had enough of the game. However, their lack of a killer instinct ultimately cost them.
Scrum-half Bobby Owen’s 11th minute penalty was just reward for Trojans’ early pressure but a couple of missed tackles opened the door for Phil Baldwin to burst through to give the visitors the lead which they never relinquished.
Jon Lynch converted the try and, although Eastleigh had Richard O’Donnell sin binned, it was they who stretched their lead further thanks to Lynch’s penalty on the stroke of half-time for a 10-3 interval advantage.
Trojans came on strong at the start of the half but Owen missed a long-range penalty before Troy Cusack, returning to the side after a month out through injury, made no mistake to reduce the arrears.
Unfortunately, the fly-half would not see out the game and left the field through injury again shortly afterwards.
The game was effectively over when, on 55 minutes and Eastleigh down to 14 once again – Micky Holmes taking a ten-minute rest – Ashley Holland brushed his way to the line for his side’s second try.
The home side did give themselves a very late hope when Fraser Moncrieffe finally broke through the stoic Eastleigh defence, who had performed admirably, but it was not enough and the London 3 South-West outfit progress.
Eastleigh coach Andy Boyes said: “Everyone in the squad dug deep today in a game that went down in Eastleigh Rugby Club’s history as a victory that everyone in the squad fully deserved. We plan to take this winning attitude and performance on to a big league game against Old Blues next week.”
But Trojans coach Barry Bridgman said: “They can have their day. They think they beat Trojans but they beat a seconds, thirds and colts combination. But I am not taking it away from them – they won at the end of the day.”
University of Southampton put up some stiff resistance in their match against Portsmouth but were eventually overrun 53-15 at Wide Lane.
A hat-trick from prop-forward Daniel Sargent led the way for the city club but they only pulled clear in the second half after Max Hobbs and Leigh Cresswell went over for the students to cut Portsmouth’s lead to just nine. But a couple of tries for winger Alex Duffus and one each for Anthony Fooks and a converted score from fly-half Andy Barnes sealed their place and gave them a boost ahead of key league fixtures.
With Tottonians’ first XV in RFU Intermediate Cup action in Kent, it was left to a heavily weakened second XV to tackle University of Portsmouth at Water Lane in the cup and they went down 57-10.
Coach Bob Millard was disappointed with the margin of the defeat but they were depleted by call-ups for the Medway trip and the students ran in nine tries.
Ben Dolbear crossed for Totts with Tom Young adding the conversion and a penalty but the University side were far quicker to the breakdown and the hosts gifted them tries.
“We needed to be a lot tighter,” said the coach. “We were good at the set piece but we gave them too many opportunities which they took.”
In the other match in the first round of the competition, Jersey-based Les Quennevais defeated Guernsey’s St Jacques 66-13.
Full rugby round-up in today's Southern Daily Echo