Month: December 2016

Report: 2nds v Basingstoke II (H), Sat. 17 Dec. 2016

IW II 5-17 Basingstoke II

In their final match of 2016, IW seconds were defeated in a tight battle at Wootton Rec. Yet they were pleased with a gritty and determined performance against an experienced and very big Basingstoke outfit.

As usual for the second team, there was a host of changes from recent games, including some debutants who all impressed in a hotly contested match. Basingstoke put IW under pressure from the off, boasting some sizeable and direct runners, but the home defence was not found wanting and repelled the visitors time and again. IW themselves looked threatening when in possession, but their try came from a seemingly unpromising position after 15 minutes. The forwards won turnover ball inside their own 22, and the ball was worked to lively fly-half Sam Spencer-Brading, who broke two tackles and scorched clear for a memorable score.

IW were playing well and Basingstoke were becoming frustrated, when a lengthy stoppage was needed for a Jayme Bishop ankle injury. On the resumption, Basingstoke worked the ball wide for a good try, levelling the scores at 5-5 before half-time.

IW now lost Spencer-Brading to injury, though David Blackman filled in admirably at 10. The pattern of the first quarter re-emerged as Basingstoke dominated territory, and for once IW defence was found wanting as the mainlanders scored a converted try after mere minutes of the second period.

Again IW were forced to mainly defend, and tackled in the main tremendously well while competing strongly in the tight. Rouse Ltd man of the match Sam Jones stood out on debut in the second row, but youngsters Danny Rackett, Luke Herbert and Austin Law also performed exceptionally in a tough game for new players. More experienced heads such as Matt Hallam and Nathan Tombleson were also influential, while Steve Smith showed up well at hooker, also making his debut.

IW in truth never looked able to breach a strong Basingstoke defence in the second half, though not for want of trying. Eventually, the winners turned over IW near their own line and got an insurance score with five minutes remaining. The hosts, while disappointed to lose, knew they had played with great spirit and pride which will serve them well in 2017.

IW: Greaves, E Wright, Rackett, Blackman, Law, Spencer-Brading, Hallam, Willetts, S Smith, Tombleson, J Bishop, Jones, Kearney, Herbert, Greedy ©. Replacements: Pettifer, T Turtle, D Bishop, Leahy.

Report: 1sts v Ventnor (A), Sat. 10 Dec. 2016

Ventnor 17 IWRFC 31

The long awaited league derby at Watcombe Bottom was seconds old as the first blow was dealt. With the kick off not going 10 metres, the Island used the half way scrum to move the ball right, where Owen Herbert skipped through the cover to release James Webster to score, Lewis Murray adding the kick.

A further penalty stretched the visitors lead to 10.

Herbert now counter attacked from a Ventnor kick and this time released Andy Rann to touch down, Murray again adding the kick.

Ventnor responded as they pounced on a loose ball and countered, scoring out wide.

The Island responded pressurising the home defence with a deep kick for Alex Hay to drive over, Murray again adding the kick.

Ventnor then had a time of sustained pressure resulting in a Todd Riches converted try. But the Island had not finished and brought up their bonus point when Herbert was given a sniff of a gap and sprinted through to score, Murray adding the conversion.

The second half was two minutes old when a nasty injury to Ventnor’s Ed Blake resulted in a long delay. It was Ventnor who reacted better to the restart, some 25 minutes later, pressurising the visitors’ 22 constantly.

However the Island  line held firm on several occasions and it was not until they were reduced to 14 men due to a yellow card in the last 10 minutes that Ventnor scored.

The Island saw out the remaining minutes, the win resulting from a strong forward performance with Rouse Intelligent Finance Man of the Match Grant Smith to the fore.

IWRFC: O Herbert, J Webster, D Stirrup, M Wood, A Rann, L Murray, B Evans, R Stewart, A Hay, A Brown, G Smith, A Smith, R Keyes, D Tennant, M Newnham, D Bishop, E Toms, T Marriott

An Alternative View of IWRFC by O’Pinion – Sun. 11 Dec. 2016

An Alternative View of IWRFC – by O’Pinion

In O’Pinion’s opinion, you can’t beat the run-up to Christmas. The anticipation of quality time with family and friends, good TV, time off work, etc. The only downside is a couple of rugby-free Saturdays, though IWRFC’s players will probably be glad of the break after a hectic season to date. Yesterday saw a trip to Watcombe Bottom to face Ventnor in the second Island derby of the season, the penultimate league match of 2016, and an opportunity to move up to sixth if victory could be secured and Fareham Heathens lost.

Ventnor had been billed as suffering from injuries before this much anticipated game, and IWRFC were struggling with a growing list of unavailable Rangers themselves. This extended to Lewy getting injured in the warm-up, and an unsuspecting Tom Marriott turning up to watch only to be pressed into service as a replacement with borrowed kit! On a gloomy and misty day, battle commenced.

We scored after about a minute – their kick-off didn’t go ten, we scrummaged solidly, Owen Herbert made a searing break and James Webster supported for a great score. Lewis then kicked the conversion and a penalty – 10-0 up. Thank you very much.

The lads dominated the first half, scoring four tries though there could have been more but for some loose play and ambitious offloads. Owen ran back an ill-conceived defensive kick with interest and found Andy Rann, who showed blistering pace and glue-like hands to ensure the touchdown. The stench is now frankly overwhelming – Ranner must live near O’Pinion’s house. Zimby was back to his broken-field best and shipped to Alex Hay for a try, and then Owen was given a metre of space near the touchline. That meant a score, of course. We gifted Ventnor an opportunist try thanks to the aforementioned looseness, and they were rewarded for their only real period of pressure in the half by  exploiting some sub-standard IW tackling for a try by their big no. 8. 31-12 at half-time, bonus point already sorted, and a big scoreline looked possible, if the Rangers could keep up their exciting standard of play.

The club was strongly represented at the match, some availing of a VP lunch beforehand provided by the hosts. O’Pinion had the pleasure of seeing club legend Nigel Harris, who has been ill but thoroughly enjoyed the first-half fayre. Steve Lucy was also there, as was an array of IWRFC supporters both young and not so young. Great to see.

After less than two minutes of the second half, there was an incident which no one wishes to see on a rugby pitch, as Ventnor’s no. 13 sustained a serious ankle injury which required a lengthy stoppage and ambulance removal to hospital. Needless to say, everyone at IWRFC wishes him a full recovery.

Long stoppages such as this one can affect teams in different ways, or not at all. Certainly on this occasion, the game was unrecognisable from before, as it was Ventnor’s turn to apply pressure, while the IW Rangers were sluggish in comparison. It was just as well that defence was strong in this period, as we struggled to get any sustained possession and had to soak up plenty of Ventnor attacks – teams higher up the league would have punished this less inspiring second half performance.  Highlights of the second half were limited to Smudge’s speculative kick and regather, and a better final five minutes as IW again looked like they might add to their tally. So, not a great second half, but the first half made up for it and we’re up to sixth after Heathens’ loss. We host them next weekend and will need to beat them to retain that mid-table placing.

Well done to Grant Smith who was man of the match. Well done to Lewis who kicked every goal. Well done to every Ranger who contributed to a second away win for the firsts. Thank you to Rich Freeman, who leaves for Australia and has left a major imprint on all of Island rugby. Good luck to Andy Brown, who will be looking after Rich down under. Here’s to next week – hopefully two matches at home and a Christmas party afterwards! ‘Three cheers for Wootton!’

IWRFC: Herbert, Webster, Stirrup ©, Wood, Rann, Murray, Evans, Newnham, Tennant, Keyes, A Smith, G Smith, Brown, Hay, Stewart. Reps: Toms, D Bishop, Marriott.

Report: 1sts v Ellingham & Ringwood (H), Sat. 26 Nov. 2016

IWRFC 45 Ellingham & Ringwood 44

A last gasp try and conversion gave the Island a bonus win after a pulsating second half.

However the first half was dominated by the visitors as the home defence seemed to be absent on occasions.

Two early Ellingham tries were countered by two penalties from Lewis Murray before recycled ball from a scrum allowed Ryan Stewart to score. Straight from the restart recycled ball was moved to Owen Herbert to outpace the defence from 35 yards, Murray adding the conversion.

Ellingham responded with two tries to lead 26-18 at half-time.

Early scores in the second half opened the lead to 20 points for the visitors. The Island then lost Henry Edwards to injury. Their response was rewarded with a penalty try as the visitors illegally stopped a driving 5 metre scrum from the Island; again Murray added the two.

A second injury to Ramsay Lind seemed to be further inspiration, as Mikey Wood cut back to score under the posts.

Both sides then traded two penalties each.

With time running out the home side threw everything at a tiring visitors’ defence. Winning a scrum, the ball was moved wide for Rouse Intelligent Finance Man of the Match Herbert to claim his second score. It still came down to Murray to add the conversion, the whistle went and the victory secured.

D Stirrup, G Warvill, O Herbert, M Wood, H Edwards, L Murray, R Lind, R Stewart, B Evans, A Brown, A Raunigger, A Smith, M Newnham, D Tennant, G Smith, R Keyes, A Rann, S Spencer-Brading.

An Alternative View of IWRFC by O’Pinion – Sun. 4 Dec. 2016

An Alternative View of IWRFC by O’Pinion – Sun. 4 Dec. 2016

You may have missed the Alternative View column in recent weeks, but O’Pinion has been busy, advising Joe Schmidt and his backroom staff during Ireland’s successful November international campaign. It’s always nice to see how the professionals do it, but it’s even better to return to where rugby really matters; the grassroots, and IWRFC.

As we’re just over one-third of the way through the season, it’s well overdue to sit back and evaluate how things are going. The first team had a free weekend and could put their feet up yesterday – hard earned after some seismic tussles recently. There was the try-fest over at league leaders New Milton, the thrilling floodlit battle at Sandown-Shanklin, and last week beating Ellingham & Ringwood by the odd point in…89?!? Unseasonably dry weather has meant very high-scoring games, though our exceptional attack and sometimes leaky defence have also contributed.

New players Owen and Henry have made a huge impression, and some strength in depth is emerging in certain positions. There hadn’t been too many injuries until last week, but hopefully the squad is strong enough to cope with any more. Off the pitch, we’re attracting plenty of spectators who are enjoying the on-pitch fayre and the hospitality afterwards. Good times, indeed.

So after all that, IWRFC sit 7th out of 11 in Hampshire One, one place above where we’ve finished in the last four seasons, and with Fareham Heathens in our sights three points ahead. They visit the Fortress in the last home game before Christmas, which might be an opportunity to move further up the table. Before then however, the Rangers travel to Ventnor next week.

What about the 2nds? Mixed results as always, but the overall signs are positive! At the time of writing, the 2s have just completed their ninth consecutive Saturday match – a far cry from previous seasons, where a whole month or more could pass without match action. All the more notable is that most of these matches have been away, the bizarre fixture list dictating that IW 2nds will have a string of home matches to finish the season (if the opposition turn up.) At a time when playing numbers appear to be on the slide in Hampshire, IWRFC’s ability to field week in week out is praiseworthy indeed. Highlight of the season so far? Probably the three victories in a row in November, two of which were away. The 2nds lie 6th out of 12 in Solent League 3, and should be looking above them rather than below, as few enough points separate them from the upper echelons.

Yesterday, the 2s made the short journey to local rivals Sandown/Shanklin for a league derby. A measure of the club’s good health is that there was no need to call on any of last week’s starting first 15, though Smudge did make a second half appearance. Meanwhile, Josh Wright turned out for the opposition who were short of a prop. On a bitterly cold windy day, the teams served up a good contest even if the play was a bit scrappy in places. The hosts dominated the first half in territorial terms and built up a 17-5 lead, though a smashing  George Huish try gave the Rangers some solace.

Oddly, IW were able to defend magnificently close to their own line, but sometimes were sadly lacking further up the field, the most glaring example being when one of Sandown’s stronger players strolled through directly from the second half kickoff, with barely a hand being laid on him. Some fabulous attacking play soon improved O’Pinion’s mood, Smudge (that’s Alex Smith, FYI, County Press sports editor) crashing over from a short-range penalty, before a terrific move ended with a Tom Turtle score. Credit to Sandown, who controlled the last 20 minutes and ensured the Rangers wouldn’t get a chance to level the scores, before scoring a try of their own on the final whistle. 27-15 it finished.

Players may leave the club, but the club never truly leaves them. And so yesterday, the legendary Simon Boulter made his first appearance for us in years, home for a few days on holiday, and achieving his pre-match target of giving away only a single-figure tally of penalties. Brother Ollie (our esteemed chairman) also made his presence felt. And Alex Augustus (young Gussie) was pulling the strings from fly-half! Nathan Tombleson made his return as a late replacement too. Reasons to be cheerful – one, two, three, and the rest. Onwards and upwards, IWRFC Rangers!

2nds v Sandown & Shanklin: T Turtle, Sabin, Toms, Huish, Webster, Augustus, Marriott, Brine, Pettifer, Keyes, J Bishop, O Boulter, Hay, Kearney, Greedy, S Boulter, A Smith, Hatch, Greaves, Tombleson, J Wright.