Tom helps Steer Honiton to within one more win of Twickenham appearance
PUBLISHED: 19:26 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:46 21 March 2019
Honiton, backed by a coachload of supporters, powered their way into the national semi-finals as they won the Senior Vase South and South West Divisional final, beating hosts Chesham Stags 25-12 on their own pitch in Buckinghamshire, writes Justin Nuttall.
The Lacemen, who had travelled the night before to avoid any matchday travel issues, played ‘up the slope’ in the first half and, when an early kick was gathered by James Coutts Tucker, he charged forward only to be stopped in his tracks by a high tackle.
This moved play forward towards the home 22 from where, after a line-out and a powerful driving maul, the forwards powered over with Ross watts bagging the try. In what were very tricky conditions, the Tom Steer conversion attempt was missed.
The bright start continued and, from a couple of off-sides against the hosts, Steer landed a brace of penalty kicks for Honiton to lead 11-0
Chesham, who went into the game having only tasted defeat once all season, pride their game on a strong pack, but the Lacemen proved a good match for them and, under continued pressure, the home loose head was yellow carded for deliberately pulling the scrum down.
With no further scoring, half-time arrived with the Lacemen still holding that 11-0 advantage.
Early in the second half, when another penalty was awarded, Steer drilled a difficult kick between the uprights to make it 14-0.
Chesham hit back and, after striking the post with a penalty attempt, put together a right wing raid that was halted by a Josh Rice tackle, but it was – albeit harshly – adjudged to be a ‘high tackle’ and Rice saw yellow and a subsequent 10-minute spell in the sin bin!
The home side used the numerical advantage well and they scored a converted try – awarded when, after some ill discipline, the Lacemen were marched back towards their line!
A second try followed and suddenly the margin between the teams was one of just two points at 14-12!
However, with Rice restored to the action and the replacements bench used wisely, the Lacemen began to regain control. Steer slotted another penalty to relieve some of the tension.
For both sides, lineout time was difficult because of the gale, but Honiton did disrupt Chesham throw a lot with Louis Groves, in particular, proving to be a real handful.
Chesham attacked, but the Honiton defence stood firm and, from a spilled ball at the tackle in midfield, Ben Small hacked through, winning the foot race to the line for a great score. Again the trusty boot of Steer added what proved to be the final points of the game with another clean conversion.
Honiton did the real damage in the first half, but the hosts came back strongly in the third quarter and defiantly played their part in great contest which was made very difficult for both sets of players given the windy conditions.
Honiton matched the home side’s forward prowess and the back row cut down any attacks they made from the base before they started.
Defence was again key and nothing came through the midfield and Honiton also used the impact subs well.
Each member of the squad played their part in a tough encounter, but it was Tom Steer who was awarded the man of the match for a great game and a brilliant kicking display in very difficult conditions.
These are heady days for the Ton and this victory puts them into the Southern counties final against Portsmouth on April 20.
However, as everyone knows, the real prize for the winners of that game will be a berth in the national final that is taking place at Twickenham on May 6.
It’s back to league action this Saturday and what looks a tough league visit to fourth-placed Plymouth Albion Oaks.