Farnham slipped to a 32-26 defeat against Winchester at Monkton Lane.

Winchester had started their season with a convincing win while Farnham were looking to bounce back after a narrow loss against London Irish Academy last week.

Three debutants took to the field for Farnham. Josh Watson started at number eight, academy graduate Ted Bailey started at scrum half and Dan Sullivan started on the wing.

Farnham opened the game in style. Jonny Vincent broke through the Winchester defence, drew the full back and popped to Toby Salmon who galloped in under the posts.

Winchester came back strongly and used their powerful pack to make significant inroads. The first of many penalties given up by Farnham in the first half allowed Winchester to narrow the gap to 7-3.

Winchester dominated possession and a break down the wing put them in Farnham’s 22. The visitors broke through the Farnham defence to score under the posts to lead 10-7.

Winchester kept applying the pressure. A rolling maul moved infield and from the base Winchester’s scrum half spotted an unguarded blindside to score his team’s second try. Farnham’s ill-discipline repeatedly cost them field position. The penalty following Sullivan’s yellow card for a high tackle allowed Winchester to extend their lead to 20-7.

Farnham were then broken down by a driving maul to the corner just before half-time.

The conversion was missed, but Farnham trailed 25-7 at half-time and had a lot of work to do in the second period.

Early in the second half backs Callum Jones, Reece Stennett and Max Williams linked up well to make good yards into the Winchester half.

The Farnham forwards began to get their hands on the ball and good carries from Tom Dullage, Cleeve and Vincent kept the momentum going.

A turnover from a Winchester lineout put Farnham ten metres out and slick hands put Sullivan in to score his first Farnham try. The conversion hit the post.

Farnham were now playing in the right areas and Winchester, under pressure, began to make some mistakes and gaps appeared in their defence.

Salmon sliced through, was stopped short and offloaded to Dullage – who powered over under the posts. Salmon hobbled off with cramp, leaving Jones to slot the conversion and make it 25-19. Nathan Phillimore came on the wing with Jones slotting in at ten.

A poor exit from the restart meant Farnham coughed up the penalty, from which Winchester kicked to the corner and drove over from the lineout. The conversion made it 32-19 and the two-score difference was restored with ten minutes left on the clock.

Salmon came back on to replace Bailey. Farnham then fought their way into the Winchester 22, kept hold of the ball well and edged ever closer to the line. After a series of crashing carries from Dullage and Harrison Horner, Harry Arkley managed to bustle over from close range to score his first Farnham try. The successful conversion from out wide made the score 32-26.

Winchester gave up a penalty from the restart and Farnham went for broke with a lineout deep in opposition territory. However, a turnover allowed Winchester to hold out for the win.