Romsey II 44 IW II 36
In a thrilling game featuring no less than 14 tries, a gallant IW second string were defeated at Romsey. Both teams played positive rugby and the respective attacks trumped defences for most of the game.
IW travelled with just 14 players and were indebted to Romsey who loaned them a player to ensure a fair contest, which did transpire. The Islanders got off to a dream start inside the first five minutes, as a breakdown in a Romsey move was exploited by Colman Cotter, who kicked through and regathered for a straightforward try. Ricky Keyes’ conversion attempt hit the crossbar.
Romsey came back at IW straight away, and took a 12-5 lead before the visitors’ second try. This came from a superb move, ending in a half-break by fly-half Chris Williams, who passed to Eric Wright to score out wide. However, the second quarter was a difficult period for IW – firstly, they lost Ryan Stewart to injury, and then found themselves on the end of some bad luck and key refereeing decisions. Romsey capitalised on these, adding further scores before half-time for a 29-10 lead.
IW resolved to focus on the positives of the opening half and to continue their ball-in-hand policy, which bore fruit throughout the second half. The scrum was also gaining the upper hand. Their problem was in preventing tries at the other end, as an accomplished Romsey back division threatened widely. Captain and Rouse Ltd man of the match Andy Brown led by example, while Austrian international Andi Raunigger also put in a great shift. It was Raunigger who scored next after a clever back row move, but Romsey crucially answered most IW scores with one of their own, giving them breathing space.
A spell of pressure from the forwards afforded IW backs enough space to engineer a score for Tom Turtle, while experienced centre Andy White cut a great line to power over under the posts. Keyes converted both. Having trailed 44-24 at one stage, IW were now getting closer, and a scything break by Williams took him under the posts for a try which he converted himself. While it never looked likely that IW would overhaul the deficit, they were looking the stronger at the finish and rued some hefty doses of ill luck earlier in the game. Overall, the match was played in great spirit as befits games between these two clubs.
IW: Leahy, Wynyard-Wright, Turtle, White, E Wright, Williams, Cotter, Newnham, Love, Keyes, Greedy, A Brown, Raunigger, Stewart.