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.