Month: March 2016

Report: 1sts v Fareham Heathens (H), Sat. 19 Mar. 2016

IWRFC 27 Fareham Heathens 43

With Heathens at the top of the league, many did not expect the Island to overly trouble the visitors. However the home performance forced their visitors to work hard, with the home side often playing the better rugby. IW deserved the gained bonus point but to come out 5 tries to 6 against Heathens showed the willingness to attack.

However it was the visitors who struck after only two minutes, with IW losing a ball in the ruck, scoring out wide for a converted try. Isle of Wight responded attacking the Heathens line through Mikey Wood, for Andy Brown to crash over. Back came the visitors, taking advantage of a missed tackle, stretching their lead further latching on to loose ball and kicking a penalty to take a 5-17 lead. A further try seemed to put Heathens in a commanding lead.

A cross kick by Chris Williams changed that as Ian Puzey gathered, fed Mikey Wood who was supported by Alex Smith who smashed over. Then, opting for a scrum in the opposition 22 from a penalty, the ball whizzed down the backs line for Ramsay Lind to score. Switching off just before half time allowed Fareham to score their 4th try to hold a half time lead  15-31.

The second half was a credit to both sides who put on a display of running rugby. The Island kept the pressure up on the visitors for a sustained time, through scrum and close support, with Matt Vann touching down for Chris Williams to add the kick. Back came Fareham with a try of their own.

The Island could not gain further from their next session of pressure and the visitors scored again. Not to be outdone, scrum ball was moved wide, from which quick hands and a neat pass inside from debutant Ben Cox allowed Sam Spencer-Brading to score, leaving the second half 12 all.

While Heathens go on to look for promotion, the Island side gained another point to continue their rise from the relegation zone.

IW: D Stirrup, S Spencer-Brading, R Lind, M Vann, M Wood, C Williams, B Evans, A Hay, D Tennant, A Brown, A Smith, O Boulter, I Puzey, M Newnham, M Tanner. Rich Vaughan, R Stewart, B Cox

Report: 2nds v Southampton (A), Sat. 19 Mar. 2016

Southampton II 34 IW II 37

In their final away match of the season, Isle of Wight RFC’s second string snatched a dramatic victory at Test Park and kept up their challenge for third place in Hampshire South-West, with three home matches left to conclude the season.

Fielding one of their youngest line-ups in several seasons, IW faced up to the hosts who called upon a number of university players and were stronger than their lowly league position suggested. Yet IW were quickest into their stride, moving the ball with purpose and finding gaps at will in the Southampton backline. A barrelling run by Sam McQueen was supported by Dan Bishop who opened the scoring inside three minutes, converted by Rouse Ltd man of the match James Fitton, who played well in the fly-half role. Tom Turtle added a second in the tenth minute, and when George Huish cut through for another score, IW led 17-0 after 20 minutes.

A big win seemed on the cards for IW, but the second and third quarters of the game will not be looked back on with any satisfaction, as their fine start appeared to breed complacency. Southampton also deserve credit for forcing their way into the game, but IW lost their defensive shape and fell off a number of tackles on the home side’s big runners. Southampton opened their account from a rolling maul, but IW did retort quickly with Huish’s second try. The sides exchanged further scores before the break, Turtle registering for the Islanders, who led 27-10 at the short whistle.

Southampton now had hope, and IW were unable to break free of their slump, constantly on the wrong end of the referee’s whistle. The early one-way traffic had now been reversed, and the hosts exploited their visitors’ lethargy. Scoring two converted tries in the third quarter, they closed to within three points, and with one of their best tries on the hour mark, took a 29-27 lead.

Belatedly, IW roused themselves, and the closing 20 minutes were played in a welter of excitement. Ryan Tulloch’s dominance of the lineout ensured IW had possession, while their scrum was steadfast against bigger opposition. A scintillating stretch of phases saw Huish complete his hat-trick to regain the lead, but Southampton’s effective rolling maul again led to a try, giving them a 34-32 lead with four minutes remaining.

IW desperately tried to engineer a winning score, showing great character for such a young side but struggling to break through a rejuvenated home team who were down to 14 men after a scuffle and sinbinning. As time elapsed, IW had a lineout in their own half and needed to throw caution to the wind. The electric Huish was almost through down the far touchline but was scragged at the 22, but the ball was recycled and moved back across the pitch. Second row Bishop received the ball in space, and handed off two tacklers for a memorable winning try, celebrated with joy and no little relief by the IW team.

IW: Sabin, Rogers, McQueen, Huish, Cansdale, Fitton, Cotter ©, Brine, Love, Keyes, Aubert, D Bishop, Turtle, Tulloch, Freeman. Replacements: Greaves, Wynyard-Wright, Leahy.

Report: 1sts v Sandown & Shanklin (H), Sat. 12 Mar. 2016

IW 14 Sandown & Shanklin 29

The second Hampshire One Island derby of the season yielded a clearcut victory for Sandown & Shanklin in a sporting and well contested match played in glorious conditions at Wootton Rec. Though IW had their moments and played plenty of good rugby, Sandown were deserving winners thanks to their more consistent cutting edge and crucial superiority at the breakdown.

A large crowd gathered to watch this eagerly awaited encounter, postponed from January owing to waterlogging. Sandown forced the pace from the off but there was little to choose between the sides in the opening minutes, until a slick backline move exploited a dog-leg in the IW defence and led to a converted try to open the scoring. IW’s reaction was swift, as Rouse Ltd man of the match Ramsay Lind made a scything break before passing to wing Mike Wood to finish. The conversion by Gary Warvill, playing his first match of the season due to injury to regular no. 10 Harry Dye, levelled matters at 7-7 after 12 minutes.

A pattern of sorts now emerged, as both teams settled into the game. Sandown edged territory on the whole and taxed the IW defence, which was sturdy for the rest of the half but did give up two kickable penalties. The first of these was capitalised on to give Sandown back the lead. A feature of the whole game was Sandown’s vigorous competition for IW ball at the tackle area, which  yielded a number of turnovers and penalties throughout. Yet Sandown’s second try came about in unusual circumstances, as a rather laboured IW backs move ended with a blocked down kick. The bounce favoured Sandown who were able to run the loose ball back in for a converted try, a crucial score in the context of the game, leading to a 17-7 half-time scoreline.

On the run of play, IW felt somewhat aggrieved at being ten points behind but felt more than able to rescue the situation. Credit then to Sandown, who played some of their best rugby in the third quarter, moving the ball wide with accuracy and finding gaps in the home defence. They scored two tries (one converted) before the 60 minute mark, leaving IW with too much of a hill to climb.

IW were nothing if not spirited, and led by captain Dan Stirrup, mounted a concerted spell of pressure on the Sandown line. Their scrum had been rampant throughout the match and forced a series of penalties in opposition territory. Yet the winners’ defence was determined, and IW were held up when they did get over the line. Sandown cleared their lines and were close to adding to their tally, but met with similarly staunch IW defence. As time elapsed, IW showed that they too could play with width, launching a multi-phase attack which ended with replacement wing Sam Spencer-Brading stepping through two tacklers for a fine try. Warvill’s touchline conversion was on the mark and was the final act of an entertaining tussle. Sandown were unquestionably superior, but IW will draw positives from aspects of their performance, and remain confident of picking up the win in the coming weeks that would probably guarantee their Hampshire One status next season.

IW: Stirrup ©, Wood, Lind, Vann, Rann, Warvill, Evans, Puzey, Tennant, Newnham, A Smith, Boulter, Brown, Hay, Stewart. Replacements: M Tanner, James, Spencer-Brading.

Report: 2nds v Portsmouth Vets, Sat. 5 Mar. 2016

 Isle of Wight II 17  Portsmouth IV/Vets 33

 Following last weekend’s heroic victory over Ventnor the Isle of Wight approached their fixture with Portsmouth IV with confidence. The Island’s confidence was quickly dealt a blow upon discovery that they would not be facing Portsmouth IV but the formidable Portsmouth Vets team.

The Island started the game brightly with some free flowing rugby but were unable to make it count; Portsmouth were first to strike with two converted breakaway tries to take an early 14-0 lead. The Island did manage to get on the scoreboard thanks to a storming run by number 8 Alex Smith. Portsmouth again quickly responded with another converted try to make the score 21-5 at the break.

During the halftime interval the Island made some changes to their line-up including debuts for new players Rob Dalling and Australian Greg Hume.

Portsmouth were first to register again in the second half where their large and vastly experienced pack drove over from close range taking their lead to 28-5. Things were looking ominous for the Island at this stage – however they rallied to finally start playing some running rugby and threaten the Portsmouth defence. Following another battering break by man of the match Tom Turtle from full back, space was opened up for returning player James Horton to break away and score out wide. Dan Taylor converted, taking the score to 28-12.

The Island now sensed another comeback on the cards and were soon in the Portsmouth half; this time following a number of phases it was the hard working second row Neil Harrison who was on hand to score out wide reducing the deficit to 11 points with ten minutes remaining. The Island continued to press the stout Portsmouth defence but could not find a way through. The Portsmouth side then influenced proceeding drawing on their experience thus slowing down the Island attack at the breakdown and eventually turned over possession for their flying centre to break away and score the final try of the contest.

 IW: T Turtle, D Greaves, J Horton, S McQueen, G Sabin, A James, C Cansdale, J Bishop, L Murray, C Cotter, R Dalling, A Smith, M Aubert, N Harrison, G Smith, T Greedy, G Hume, J Willetts, T Love, D Taylor,  J Wynyard-Wright.