An ultimately satisfying first campaign back in the big time of the National 3 saw the Hooks Lane men finish a creditable 7th, a major achievement given that by the beginning of October the blue and whites lay rock bottom.
However, it was a tough start in which the first three games had seen defeats against Barking, Redruth, and North Walsham who were to finish in the top 3. Fortunes started to change when previously-undefeated Dings were beaten 17-10 at the Lane, and this was to be the start of an impressive run of home form which saw Weston (35-8), Hertford (36-10), Westcombe Park (36-12), and Old Patesians (41-10), Tabard (48-10) and Haywards Heath (33-15), and Southend (37-26) all sent home pointless. With wins away at Heath and Tabard safety, was looming by February.
The Hav then showed what could be achieved at their best by winning 37-8 at Dings and 32-17 at 2nd place Walsham before narrowly losing 15-19 in a pulsating encounter to ultimately promoted Redruth, with the added bonus of some silverware in a 55-7 thumping of Basingstoke in the Hampshire cup final, to round off the season.
Once again player-coach Owen Cobbe was instrumental both on the field and on the training paddock, backed up by Matt Hart and Simon Morgan, whilst DOR Adam King recruited shrewdly, with new additions Cam Avery (North Harbour), Matt Harrison (Otago), Matt Gronow (Portsmouth) and Ali Ramus (Henley), all proving influential. In fact, Avery and Gronow contributed 35 tries between them in a potent back division, which saw the powerful Kiwi finish leading try scorer in Nat 3 south.
However, although satisfied, the south coast men know that further progress needs to be made before the challenge of establishing top flight rugby in Hampshire can be achieved, both in getting further developments out of the talented squad that exists, and by further strengthening the squad. It promises to be an interesting 05-06 season.