Petersfield extended their unbeaten run in the Hampshire Counties One League to 17 matches with a 40–3 home win over Havant’s 2nd XV.

It was a close call that the match would go ahead at Penns Place, the pitch having received almost two inches of rain in the 36 hours prior to 6am on Saturday. There was hand-forking of the areas of standing water by volunteers and the pitch was declared playable.

The sun came out as the players warmed up and the 120 guests at the pre-match Farmers’ Lunch filled the balcony. Club support and Havant followers swelled the spectators to more than 300.

Havant wanted to continue their own unbeaten run since the new year arrived, but because of injuries and unavailability they had six changes to their successful team of the previous weeks. Petersfield fielded an almost unchanged team, with prop Dan Sargent a late withdrawal.

Petersfield started brightly, with Havant competing at every breakdown and regularly threatening to break out of their half, making several attacking runs into Petersfield’s 22, where the hosts’ excellent defence stood firm.

Petersfield’s back row and centres continually punched holes in Havant’s line and it was only because the last pass to the outside went astray or the receiver ran into the opposition that it was a full 29 minutes before outside centre Matt McLean jinked through the defence on the left wing to score an unconverted try and put Petersfield 5-0 up.

Just four minutes later a Petersfield driving maul advanced into the visitors’ five-metre area, where Havant collapsed the maul. Petersfield were awarded a penalty try and a Havant forward received a yellow card. Number eight and player-coach Liam Perkins was injured and replaced by the excellent Rhys Bowen. The half-time score was 12-0.

The second half had Havant pressurising Petersfield and keeping the hosts in their 22 by close pick and drives up the centre of the pitch. After ten minutes Havant were awarded a kickable penalty which was successfully converted to make it 12-3.

From the restart Petersfield were in possession, and with great interplay between forwards and backs they passed the ball to right-wing George Davis, who made several metres before passing inside for McLean to dance through Havant’s defence to touch down near the corner. Nick Blumlein added the extras from a difficult position near the touchline and it was 19-3.

Before Havant could regain their composure and Petersfield could draw breath, from a line out Alex Duffus fed Will Mathews, who cut a wonderful line to pass inside to Davis in space, and at full gallop he covered more than 30 metres only to be desperately tackled just short of scoring.

He popped the ball up into the hands of his support for number seven Karter Whittock to dive over the line under the posts for his first try in Petersfield colours. Blumlein converted this bonus point try to make it 26-3.

The big hand on the coaches’ watches crept round for a further ten minutes of sustained attacking pressure from the ever competitive Havant, who were narrowly failing to significantly breach Petersfield’s defence. Replacement centre Greg Jansen was yellow carded in this period, and when he was restored captain Matt Momber was forced to change places with him after also seeing yellow.

From a penalty line out on the right, five metres out, Petersfield attempted to maul across the try line. It collapsed as their feet became entangled, but quick hands had the ball spread from right to left, where Blumlein executed a successful pass to McLean, who sashayed his way through the despairing Havant defence to score his third try. Blumlein’s third conversion made it 33-3.

With two minutes left the hosts again had a right touchline penalty lineout where the ball was cleanly taken, but again, as much to do with the pitch as technique, the maul fell to the ground. With rapid recycling, and setting up an organised maul, the pack drove over for Jackson Clark to claim the try. Blumlein converted to make it 40-3.

Squad: Jackson Clark, Nic Wilde, Sam Brown, Zak Jenkins, Franco Tomic, Matt Momber, Karter Whittock, Liam Perkins, Alex Duffus, Nick Blumlein, Miles Sampson, Will Mathews, Matt McLean, George Davis, Joe Knowles, Harley Orr, Rhys Bowen, Greg Jansen.

Chris Todd