You could be excused for thinking this was an easy win for the visitors looking at the score line. This was not the case as Hove made a stirring fight back in the second half bringing the scores level just before the final quarter. The Hove resurgence was extinguished due to a grungy performance from the pack backed up by some lethal finishing from the Combe backs.
Hove were first to show as an attacking force but an early run was thwarted by an excellent tackle from scrum half Jack Donovan tracking back. Combe quickly got on the front foot and, in their first real attack, Bradley Saffrey beat his man wide on the right to deliver the pass for Dan Hamilton to score close in to the posts. Alex Cahill added the conversion.
Hove had the edge in possession and territory for the next 30 minutes but failed to capitalise through handling errors and missed kicks at goal. The home side went down to 14 men seeing yellow for a high tackle and Combe suffered the same sanction with 30 minutes gone. 5 minutes later, after some firm Combe defence in their 22 with the Simmons twins very much in evidence, Hove took advantage of an extra man in the pack to shunt Combe over the line for a true forwards try. The kick was missed. 5-7 to Combe.
1stXV V Hove 19/01/2019 13 photos
The last 5 minutes of the half belonged to Westcombe Park with a stylish Harry Sansbury take allowing himself to put Hamilton into space before being bundled into touch. From the subsequent Hove line out George Milligan charged down the clearing kick and loped in for the try which Cahill converted. Then, on the cusp of half time, Hove kicked direct to the wrong man in Hamilton who cantered in for a third converted try for the visitors.
Hove RFC 5-21 Westcombe Park RFC
It took only a minute of the half for Hove to reduce the deficit when they managed to free up their own danger man, winger Rene Palvides, who scored close to the posts for a converted score. Combe's defence held firm for a further 10 minutes of Hove pressure with Nik Pass and James Dennet organising good maul defence. Hove captain Martin MacDonald then took advantage of some loose ball in midfield to make a 25 metre run before feeding Palvides for his second score. 19-21 for Combe
Hooker Gabri Fernandez then gave Combe a bit of breathing space when he crashed through the Hove defence from clean line out ball wide on the right. Hove's MacDonald then scored on his own behalf pinching line out ball and crossing the Combe line. With the conversion the scores were level at 26 apiece with the last 20 minutes to be played.
On the 62 minute mark Milligan made a trademark run which brought Combe into the opposition 22 where he fed Hamilton for the score. 10 minutes had elapsed when this time Harrison sped into the danger area and he delayed the pass to Hamilton who made yards before being tackled. The ball was quickly recycled from the ruck for Harrison to score.
Combe's next attack also produced points when scrum half Donovan got good ball from a quick tap and go penalty in Combe's 22. He launched a testing box kick which Hamilton collected to squeeze through a gap to complete his hat trick.
Bradley Saffrey completed the scoring when flanker Pohlen first broke and combined with Sansbury to free the winger for the try which was converted bringing the match to a close. Hove 26-46 WPRFC
Overall a strange match with neither side exerting sustained control. Nevertheless a very good result for the Goddington Dene side despite not firing on all cylinders. Next Saturday Cobham are the visitors and are placed pretty close to Combe in the League so a close match can be anticipated.
Westcombe Park RFC: Simmons T, Fernandez, Simmons J, O'Sullivan, Dennet, Milligan, Pohlen, Pass, Donovan, Cahill, Saffrey, Harrison, Beckett, Hamilton, Sansbury
Repalcements: Lindfield, Alvarez, Sema
Updated 16:51 - 23 Jan 2019 by Mark Ley