HOLBROOK’S hopes of reaching Twickenham were dashed by a 29-19 defeat at the hands of Midhurst in the RFU Junior Vase.
With the winners reaching the last 16 in the South East, a visit to HQ for the Vase final would have moved a step closer for the North Heath Lane based club. But a below par performance, marred by dissatisfaction with the referee, saw Holbrook’s hopes shot down, agsin the Sussex Intermediate Division outfit.
A team hit by unavailablility and including two debutants failed to gel, although the hosts did take a first half lead.
Tom Bouet was winning good ball at the lineout, and his take ten metres from the Midhurst line was moved cleanly and simply along the Holbrook threequarter line for wing Ben Wells to open the scoring, converted by James Brown.
Both teams lacked precision and Midhurst saw three penalty attempts go begging as the half wore on, although Holbrook took a 7-0 lead into the break.
It was a different game at the start of the secon dhalf. A spirited Midhurst started brightly, and when Mike Mann’s loose clearing hack gave them an attacking lineout, they pounced to make it 7-5. A further ten minutes of Midhurst pressure followed, and they eventually touched down after a series of five metre scrums for a converted try.
Stung into action, Holbrook responded by camping on the Mudhurst line, and three scrusm later, Lee Taylor crossed to level the scores again. But that only served to inspire Midhurst, who took advantage of some poor discipline in the Holbrook ranks to run in two more tries and take a 29-12 advantage. A sin bin added to Holbrook’s woes, although there was some consolation in the form of a late Paul Langley try in his first match of the season, converted by Brown.