Match reports by Martin Wyard, Southampton Stags VP.
The Stags went into their fixture against Brighton this Sunday off the back of a win against a Surrey team that bore no resemblance to the team the Stags thrashed 50-0 two years ago. Surrey have clearly taken great strides towards becoming real contenders in the South Coastal Conference and this showed in their performance.
The winning margin of 31-3 in favour of the Stags was certainly not a true reflection of the course of the game as Surrey had been in contention for the majority of play. Surrey could even have led going into the second half were it not for some solid running from Henry Schlaefli and Will Scott’s touchdown after a fine throw and catch by Tommaso Bendoni. With the scoreline at 7-3 to the stags, the game was perfectly poised for a thrilling second half.
The Stags defense, however, continued where they had left off from the Portsmouth fixture and extinguished any thoughts of a Surrey comeback in the second half, shutting down the opposition’s offence and even managing to score themselves through Piers Luxton. As time began to run out Surrey were forced into more desperate measures which Stags capitalized on and were able to score touchdowns through Schlaefli, Scott and Bendoni to seal the game.
The fixture against Brighton this Sunday had promised to be a game with big implications for the knockout stages of the season, with both teams having been tipped to be contenders for the title. Both teams were unbeaten going into the fixture and both sought desperately to preserve that status. The Stags also had a sense of unfinished business towards the game after last year’s scrappy defeat to the hosts and were looking to right past wrongs.
The game, however, would prove to be eerily similar to the fixture of a year ago. With both offences stalling early on and the defences of both teams playing well, the scoreline looked set to remain stalemate until at least the second half. It took a miscue on special teams from the Stags to give Brighton the first real opportunity of the game which they took, running the ball in from four yards away and kicking the extra point to make the score 7-0.
A string of missed opportunities and miscues from the Stags in the second half meant that it was not until five minutes from time that the Stags got a score of their own but crucially were unable to kick the extra point meaning the score was 7-6 to Brighton and the Stags needing the ball back.
The Brighton offence was able to run out the clock, ending the game and with it Southampton’s unblemished record. The Stags will look to bounce back this Sunday away against Oxford Brookes.