It lived up to it's billing for the entire eighty minutes as Farnham took on Eastleigh with a vociferous Hampshire crowd willing their home heroes on. It was not for the faint hearted. This was a battle.
Kicking off with a very light breeze blowing across the pitch, no advantage for either side, on a beautiful Autumn afternoon the benign conditions were perfect for what turned out to be an epic encounter - an encounter eventually decided by small margins in the way of all close battles.
Farnham began well enjoying the bulk of possession and making inroads into the Eastleigh half - The pack spearheaded by Pete Daly on the rampage and backed by Ian and Dan Williams battered into the home half - two minutes gone and penalty Farnham - narrowly missed by Mike Salmon (this may become a recurring theme) a dire day for kickers.
A huge touch finder by Salmon M and the line out stolen by Farnham - penalty - miss. Frustration but the wind is swirling.
Eastleigh enjoy a foray into the Farnham half - Farnham offside - Eastleigh - miss. The crowd breathe in in unison. Surely someone will succeed in time.
Is it the referee - penalty Farnham and Toby Salmon to the Eastleigh five metre line - Jennings to Daly - perfect - Oli Brown fussy and with intent to Toby Salmon - burst, jink and over 5-0 Farnham - the extras Missed again.
The intensity is increasing, end to end, first one attack repelled only to be replaced by another, all thirty involved,handling errors, scrums going Farnham's way the big eight are starting to dominate through
Trodden, Jennings and Luke Batten - Eastleigh are marched back - penalty - missed. 11 points squandered and still only 15 minutes on the clock.
Back come Eastleigh another infringement and the home pack produce good ball deep into the Farnham 22. Centre Cairns (think Scott Gibbs) barrels over and through skipper Mike Salmon - try - and, compounding the damage, concussion for Salmon in an awkward tackle - a ten minute delay as the medics are called. 7-5 after the resumption.
Farnham retaliate and are held in the Eastleigh 22 - penalty and another miss to the frustration of the Farnham faithful. Stung into action Luke Jermyn sets of on a mazy run, infield to Toby Salmon and an offload to Jemi Akin Olugbade - the veteran shows his class, jinking over for the try 7-10 at half time with the extras missed - 13 points have gone begging. Inexcusable.
Breathing space between rounds - the second half of the contest. Farnham up on points but a lot of extras squandered. A good start for the visitors - the scrum is damaging Eastleigh - they are being marched backwards. Farnham are on the front foot and power down the right touch line through Jermyn back in field to Oli Brown and on to the effervescent Toby Salmon. Into the home 22 through Corlett and Jemi and on to Ian Williams over by the posts and at last extras for Toby Salmon. 7-17.
The Eastleigh crowd are ramping up the noise levels, almost an extra player and their boys respond, the mongrel starts to snap. Both these heavyweights are pummelling each other. Jonny Davison through on the charge down, adjudged late and a yellow card. The crowd greet the decision with gladiatorial delight. The door is open - favourable bounce and over in the corner for Eastleigh. 17-12.
The momentum, driven on by their partisan supporters, is with Eastleigh. Farnham are competing but the spite is with the home side, the scrums are still very much the visitor's domain but at the breakdown with Davison still in the bin, the Eastleigh dog is evident. They are determined to complete the win for their baying supporters.
Time is running out, scrum Eastleigh in the Farnham 22. Initial pick up and drive, cut back training ground move and Farnham defence exposed. Easy extras and the lead for Eastleigh with three minutes to go. 19-17.
Still the contenders battle - Eastleigh back into the Farnham half - desperate defence - penalty - smack against the post and a break out through podium winner - Toby Salmon - on through Corlett to Jemi on the burst into the home 22 - penalty - tension and awarded to Eastleigh for holding on - to touch and probably both sides first real contest of the season concludes.
No excuses or apologies required. Eastleigh deserved their win for their response to the home partisans - so vocal, so demanding and, finally, so deserving.
For Farnham no shame - a few might have beens if the kicks had gone over. A chance for an immediate response next weekend - a home game against US Portsmouth.
Podium Points have a different ring after a defeat but for sheer cussedness and never giving up - points are as follows:
Updated 14:25 - 24 Oct 2016 by Julian Frost
Toby Salmon - never relented scored one try and made the other two. 3 points
James Trodden - stuck at his task in a dominant pack all game - 2 points
Dan Williams - indefatigable throughout - tireless at the scrum and tackle - 1 point.