Fareham 29 Romsey 29

Romsey ended a run of four successive defeats with an outstanding second-half performance - and a hat-trick of tries from winger Phil Sleath.

Fareham led 29-5 early in the second half.

But Sleath responded with a try treble to level the scores, before a conversion attempt hit the post, denying Romsey their first win in Snows Group Hampshire One since December.

After an agonising 25-24 defeat against Ventnor the previous week, Romsey were determined to bounce back Ben Till returned after a lengthy lay off but otherwise the team was largely unchanged.

With a strong wind in their favour, a penalty in front of the posts gave Fareham Heathens their first three points.

Romsey’s scrum added to the problems early on, as they were pushed back and turned over.

Fareham were hard to stop when keeping play narrow.

A strong maul forced a penalty from Romsey and Fareham chose to scrum.

As they pushed it over the try line, scrum-half Rob Heighway gave away a penalty try and a yellow card.

Despite being down to 14, Romsey briefly showed their potential. They attacked with ball in hand, before being awarded a penalty in kicking range.

Although it was missed, Romsey threatened again, before Fareham made their numerical advantage count.

They broke downfield before a Fareham scrum and multiple phases of pick and go saw the home side break over the line for their second try, the conversion extending the lead to 17-0.

Romsey returned to the Fareham 22 and were stopped just short of the try line.

Heighway returned to the field while front row substitutes Ben Hewitt and Ian Thomas were forced on due to injury.

The changes boosted Romsey’s scrum as they provided clean ball to the backs, whose slick passing put Sam Sleap in the corner for his second in two matches.

While the scrum improved, penalties continued to hold Romsey back, as a Fareham lineout set up a strong maul which carried them over for a 24-5 half-time lead.

Fareham started well. A turnover allowed Romsey to clear, but Fareham continued to press and after many phases added a try to their score, taking it to 29 – 5.

Romsey continued to improve.

Dan Penn-Newman stole the ball in defence and from the following phase Alex Lee’s decision to reverse the direction of play set Mark Stent loose on the wing. Stent slipped past two tackles to score in the corner.

Romsey continued to open the game up, forwards and backs alike making strong runs and gaining ground.

Another strong run through the middle looked certain to result in a try, until the final pass was ruled to be forward.

Romsey continued to push and simple hands put winger Sleath in space to break for the corner.

He scored the try and the kick made it 29-17.

With the Fareham defence tiring Romsey continued to spread the ball wide. Sleath was put in space again, and slipped through the remaining defence to score under the posts.

Penn-Newman drop-goaled the conversion.

Romsey pressed from deep with a couple of phases, before slinging the ball wide once more.

Sleath had enough space to get past the defensive line. He broke past the tackles of the covering defenders to score out wide.

With the scores now level, Heighway had a final chance to win the game with a challenging kick, which rebounded off the post.

Romsey are away to New Milton & District RFC tomorrow (2:30pm). Their 2nd XV host Portsmouth 4ths (2:30pm)

Pictures by Terry Jamieson