Smith sets tone as Eastleigh settle score with Ellingham

The close battle between Hampshire’s leading London 3 South-West sides was reflected on the field at the weekend.

Eastleigh reduced the gap between themselves and third-placed opponents Ellingham & Ringwood to one point with a 10-8 victory at Bishopstoke Road.

The win also gained them revenge for defeat earlier in the season.

Ellingham had the upper hand for much of the game but only managed to convert one penalty from three in the first 15 minutes.

On the half hour an Eastleigh attack down the blind side from the E&R 10m line went through four pairs of hands and finished with a try for captain Russell Smith. Fly half Jon Lynch converted from the touchline.

Eastleigh went into the break 7-3 up, Ali Bennett getting Ellingham’s penalty, and started the second half the stronger. The home side could have touched down from two five-metre scrums but a defiant defence kept them out.

Eastleigh increased their lead with a Lynch penalty as the Es were reduced to 14 with a yellow card and the home side then lost a man as centre Pete Noonan was sent to the sidelines for ten minutes.

Es’ efforts were rewarded on 78 minutes when they got the ball out to Dan Stewart who went over in the corner.

At 10-8 down Ellingham went for victory with a drop goal in the final minutes but the effort was charged down.

Eastleigth head coach Andy Boyes said: “We’re really pleased with the result. We wanted to turn around the defeat to Ellingham & Ringwood at the start of the season and finish 2013 on a high.

“Ellingham & Ringwood had the majority of the possession but our defence held firm and it won us the game. We only conceded in the corner when we were down to 14.”

Eastleigh’s Pipestock man of the match was second row Adam Kidd.

Leaders Farnham stretched their advantage a little as they won 58-25 at Camberley while second-placed KCS Old Boys just kept their 100 per cent record with a 22-20 success at Camberley.

New Milton & District enter 2014 rock bottom of the league, following promotion at the end of the last campaign.

They bravely held out a determined Sandown & Shanklin for the first 40 minutes, putting in attacks of their own when they did manage to break out.

But the Hurricanes made the most of home advantage in the second half to run in five tries – one a penalty try– for a 35-0 victory that keeps them in fifth place – nine points adrift of Eastleigh but nine ahead of Old Cranleighans.

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