Match report: 1sts v Farnborough (A), Sat. 10 Feb. 2018 (Hampshire Plate SF)

Farnborough 24-19 IW

Isle of Wight RFC’s dream of Hampshire Plate glory died in a thrilling semi-final encounter at Farnborough. Both teams rose above the now accustomed rain and heavy conditions to serve up an exciting match which was in the balance until Farnborough’s winning try with the last play of the game.

The Islanders were short of a few regular players for various reasons of unavailability, but travelled with a strong squad and a large band of vocal supporters, so went in with confidence but in the knowledge that Farnborough were in good form and looking the most likely winners of Hampshire Two at this stage of the season. Though IW were under pressure for most of the first 20 minutes, they defended well and scored first courtesy of a Lewis Murray penalty. However, Farnborough’s renowned driving maul was in evidence shortly afterwards, making considerable ground and allowing a blind-side move which caught out the Islanders for the lead score, converted via the crossbar.

IW now settled and built some attacks of their own, which yielded two further Murray penalties and a 9-7 lead. A terrific battle between the forward packs persisted, with Ryan Stewart and Rouse Ltd man of the match Alex Smith standing out for IW. Frustratingly, IW were again breached shortly before half-time after a lapse in concentration, and the hosts led 14-9 at the short whistle.

The visitors remained optimistic, with wind advantage to come. Luke Chandler was introduced after a delayed arrival due to traffic, while Brett Evans (back from Africa on holiday) was also sprung from the bench. Yet Farnborough struck first and extended their lead to 19-9; IW were staring defeat in the face.

Not for the first time this season, IW rallied and played some of their best rugby, though good quality ball was hard to come by at times. It was a Murray interception that set up crucial position in the home 22, and after recycling through several phases, Stewart crashed over by the posts for a great score. The conversion left IW three points behind with 20 minutes still to play.

The match was now very much in the balance, with little between the sides in territory or possession, and IW seemed unable to overhaul the narrow deficit, until awarded a penalty with five minutes remaining. The 45 metre kick seemed ambitious, but Murray’s strike was magnificent and levelled the scores to jubilation from the Ranger faithful.

Extra time loomed large, but just as injury time began, Farnborough turned IW over in their own half and earned a scrum. Where IW had the better of the scrums in the first half, the tide had firmly turned, and two penalties were awarded allowing Farnborough into the 22 for another driving lineout maul. The first onslaught was repelled, but a powerful surge from their replacement prop saw him crash over and seal a dramatic victory.

IW were devastated but consoled themselves with the knowledge that they had performed with great heart. They now look to the remainder of the league campaign and the possibility of improving their Hampshire One league position.

IW: Warvill, Sweetman, Huish, Stirrup, Williams, Murray, Marriott, Keyes, McQueen, Newnham, A Smith, Raunigger, Pudney, D Blackman, Stewart. Replacements: Hatch, Chandler, Evans.

Thanks to Mark Newnham for the photographs.


Match report: 1sts v US Portsmouth (H), Sat. 3 Feb. 2018

IW 6-43 US Portsmouth

United Services showed why they have a 100% record in Hampshire One this season with a comprehensive victory over Isle of Wight. The Portsmouth-based side gave a consummate wet-weather performance and were certainly the best opposition IW have faced this season.

Persistent drizzle and heavy ground made conditions difficult for both sides, but IW started very well and controlled the opening ten minutes, forcing Services to infringe. Three of these penalties were awarded in kickable range, and Lewis Murray was on the mark with two of these, though just short with the longest effort. IW led 6-0 and an upset seemed possible.

Once USP got their hands on some possession, the pattern of the game was established. Dominating the scrums and fielding a host of big runners, they played ideal rugby for the conditions, attacking close to the breakdown and making steady ground. IW’s defensive structure held, but the demand being placed on their rearguard action prevented line speed and USP regularly got over the gainline. This tactic paid dividends as the winners scored a converted try to take the lead after 25 minutes, and soon added another. IW remained competitive, but suffered a major blow when conceding a penalty try at the scrum on the stroke of half-time, turning a manageable 12-6 deficit into a more daunting 19-6 one.

The second half largely followed the pattern of the second quarter, as US dominated the ball and pressurised the overworked IW defence. Tireless defence from the likes of Alex Hay and Mike Wood was a feature of the home performance, but US were patient and added three fine tries before the hour mark, putting the contest out of sight.

There was still time for IW to break out of their own territory and they had much more of the ball in the final quarter, including a lengthy spell in the USP 22 as they sought a consolation score. The difference between the sides was evident as the Services absorbed the pressure and then were able to clear their lines, before having the final say with a try shortly before the end.

IW knew they had been well beaten, but look forward with relish to their Hampshire Plate semi-final at Farnborough next week.

IW: Warvill, Sweetman, Stirrup, Wood, Huish, Murray, Marriott, Keyes, McQueen, Newnham, A Smith, Egan, Stewart, D Blackman, Hay. Replacements: Rhys Martin, Raunigger, Williams.

Match report: 1sts v Sandown & Shanklin (A), Sat. 27 Jan. 2018

Sandown & Shanklin 15-9 IW

A titanic Hampshire One local derby went the way of the home side at the Fairway. The match was shaped by difficult conditions, due to persistent rain for the whole 80 minutes, but credit goes to both teams for some impressive handling and link play along with inevitable errors. Ultimately, Sandown/Shanklin deserved the win for their three tries, and crucially took the lead during the second half on a day when chasing the game would be more challenging than usual because of the weather. Nevertheless, IW showed great fortitude from an unpromising second half position and threatened to wrest back the advantage in a thrilling final quarter.

IW’s injury list had shortened considerably in advance of this fixture, but misfortune befell them again during the first half, losing experienced forwards Ollie Boulter and Dan Tennant to injuries. They played with the advantage of a significant breeze and slope, and started well with a Lewis Murray penalty goal after five minutes. However, S&S took control of possession for the next 20 minutes or so. IW defended a series of attacks well, but eventually the hosts got into the opposition 22 and scored from a close range drive to lead 5-3.

IW had trouble clearing their lines at times, but managed to get some advantageous territory and applied some pressure to the home side. IW’s scrum was on top throughout the game, though lineout possession could not be relied upon by either team in the challenging weather. Murray added his second penalty to regain the lead, and was narrowly wide soon after with a further effort. S&S again threatened just before half-time, leading to a yellow card for replacement Ricky Keyes and yet more disruption to the IW line-up, who did lead 6-5 at the break.

Sandown & Shanklin were certainly favourites to take the spoils at this stage, with slope and wind advantage to come, but IW started the second half brightly and extended their lead thanks to Murray’s third penalty. Yet the winners set about taking advantage of the extra player, stretching the IW defence and allowing their winger to step inside the cover for the lead score. Within ten minutes, they had a third try courtesy of some slick handling along the backline. Neither try was converted, so S&S led 15-9 with over 20 minutes still to play.

Matters seemed grim for the IW, with the elements against them and having struggled to get out of their half for a spell. However, they would respond with their best period of the game, playing the remainder of the game in Sandown territory. Dan Stirrup and Ryan Stewart were hugely impressive while Rouse Ltd man of the match David Blackman completed tireless work, and IW kept possession well. Luke Chandler also impressed when pressed into service in the unfamiliar surrounds of flanker. That IW didn’t break through for a potentially match-winning try was due to determined home defence and occasional errors in possession. The final whistle blew, leaving IW disappointed but reflecting on a match in which they showed great heart and no little skill, which will take them forward with optimism into the next two big matches; at home to league leaders United Services and then away to Farnborough in a plate semi-final.

IW: Stirrup, Sweetman, Chandler, Wood, Herbert, Murray, Marriott, Tennant, McQueen, Newnham, A Smith, Boulter, Hay, D Blackman, Stewart. Replacements: Pudney, Keyes, Williams.

Match report: 2nds v Locks Heath Pumas (A), Sat. 20 Jan. 2018

Locks Heath Pumas II 7-50 IW II

Isle of Wight RFC’s second team recorded their first win of 2018, but a second consecutive away win in a Solent 3 match played at Gosport & Fareham RFC. Heavy rain leading up to and during the game rendered conditions difficult for both teams, but at times IW played exceptional 15 man rugby, and were not flattered by the final score.

Due to the cancellation of a scheduled veterans’ game, IW fielded a more experienced second team than normal, and their mix of youth and experience proved potent throughout. Superior in all facets of the game, the winners had a constant stream of possession and generally used it well. The returning Andy White crashed over to open the scoring, soon followed by a try from prop Jim Willetts. A powerful run by Alex Smith yielded a further score, and three Lewis Murray conversions left IW up 21-0 in as many minutes.

Andy White (two-try hero and hat-trick avoider) picks up from the base, supported by Tom Marriott.

The second quarter was a more scrappy affair, as the rain intensified and Pumas gained some traction. IW were well on top in the scrum and also had much success in the lineout, while captain for the day Colman Cotter and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dillan Egan featured heavily in tight and loose play. As half-time approached, IW achieved some more continuity and Tom Turtle crashed over for a 26-0 halftime lead.

On the resumption, IW continued to dominate and played some exceptional rugby in the second half, given the conditions. White scored his second, while debutant Ross Edmunds made a significant impact, scoring two tries including one brilliant solo effort. Some opportunities went astray, but a flowing move finished by replacement Steve Sellick was probably the pick of the tries. Murray added two further conversions in the second half. Pumas remained determined throughout, before a bizarre closing five minutes of a sporting game saw a hat-trick of yellow cards (one for Pumas and two for IW) for tackles deemed to be dangerous. The mainlanders were rewarded for their spirit by scoring a converted try in the last moments of the game.

IW II are next in action at US Portsmouth on Sat. 3 Feb.

IW: Ward, Browne, Turtle, A Smith, Williams, Murray, Marriott, Rhys Martin, Newnham, Willetts, Ross Martin, Jones, Cotter, Egan, White. Replacements: Edmunds, Leahy, Sellick.

Match report: 2nds v Tottonians (H), Sat. 13 Jan. 2018

IW II 15-17 Tottonians III

Isle of Wight RFC’s second team began 2018 with a narrow defeat at Wootton Rec. Their encounter with Tottonians thirds was closely contested and IW were left to reflect on something of a missed opportunity in spite of a spirited display. They created a minor piece of club history by earning the second team’s first ever bonus point under new regulations, by losing by less than 15 points.

In the spirit of rugby, IW loaned one player to the visitors so that the match could be played 15 a side. Totts were soon on the attack after the referee deemed that IW had knocked forward the kickoff, and laid siege to the home line for several minutes before forcing their way over in the corner.

IW were undaunted and soon settled into the game. They faced a physically bigger opposition who had the edge in the set-pieces, but the home pack competed very well in all aspects of the game and regularly disrupted Totts possession. IW also looked threatening in the open spaces, but did not make full use of their own possession, as too often a wayward pass or handling error ended a promising move. The hosts’ opening score came from a Tottonians scrum near their own line – pressure from scrum-half Dave Hanson forced an error and Dillan Egan pounced for the try, converted by Dan Ward.

Totts were struggling to gain any continuity in the face of dogged IW defence, and this yielded dividends as James Fitton dummied through for a fine, unconverted score on the half-hour. The Islanders then let themselves down defensively just before half-time, allowing the mainland team some soft yardage and eventually their second try. IW led 12-10 at the break.

The evenly contested nature of proceeding continued on the resumption, though IW were quicker into their stride and forced a penalty, which Ward kicked to extend their lead. Totts responded and played some of their best rugby, though IW battled well, with Tom Turtle impressing in a Rouse Ltd man of the match performance, while debutants Will Harrison and Adam Peckham also showed up strongly.

Tottonians got reward for a spell of territorial dominance by breaking through for a crucial try with 20 minutes remaining. The conversion gave them the lead, but IW were nothing if not resolute and would have the better of the final quarter. As the minutes ticked away, the hosts looked likely to break through on occasions, with Ward very nearly making the line. The first-half issues with rushed passes and errors recurred, and though IW played their part in an exciting match, the final whistle left them down-hearted but looking forward to Locks Heath Pumas next time out.

IW: Ward, Peckham, Hallam, Tennant, Ormerod, Fitton, Hanson, Brine, Turtle, W Harrison, N Harrison, J Bishop, L Blackman, Egan, Joyce. Reps: Bennett, Sellick, Jones.

Match report: 1sts v Bognor (H), Sat. 9 Dec. 2017

IW 21-22 Bognor                  Report by Dave Metcalfe

Again the Island had to cope with a decision that may have cost them the game as a penalty, signalled in the last minutes was not forthcoming, leaving them one point behind their opponents at the final whistle.

Bognor, positioned near the top of the table, could not have expected such an onslaught from their hosts as the home defence was rock solid in the early part of the game, led by Ollie Boulter and Dave Blackman. Recycled turn over ball allowed Owen Herbert to taunt the defence, weaving down the pitch to link with Gary Warvill, who cut inside and scored. Lewis Murray added the kick.

With Bognor railed by this, they galvanised their attack only for the ball to be turned over in the home 22. Herbert broke out and chipped the ball forward for Luke Chandler to cross the line. Murray again added the conversion.

The Island continued to defend their line but the pressure finally told as the visitors crossed the line.

When they were confident of a second try, Man of the Match Mikey Wood held up the scoring player and tackled him in to touch.

Bognor returned to the home 22 and from a lineout drove over to score.

The Island returned to the visitors 22 and, driving a line of their own released the ball wide for Herbert to score with the conversion from Murray.

The second half saw both sides looking to play an open game, with Bognor putting their large runners in to space and the Island looking to utilise their pace. Many opportunities were created by both sides, yet they found either solid defence or concluded with a turn over. Bognor succeeded in scoring under the post and added the kick, bringing the game to 21 to 17.

With 5 minutes to go Bognor managed to score the decisive try to take the one point lead. Then as the home side pushed well in to the visitors’ half at the end of the game, the decision not to award a penalty ended the game in home disappointment.

Despite this, with further injured players returning in January, the second half of the season can see this developing side a threat to others in Hampshire.

IWRFC: O Herbert, G Warvill, L Chandler, M Wood, D Stirrup, L Murray, T Marriott, A Hay, D Blackman, C Pudney, A Smith, O Boulter, M Newnham, S McQueen, R Martin. D Tennant, R Stewart, G Huish.

Match report: 2nds v Fawley (A), Sat. 9 Dec. 2017

Fawley II 19-38 IW II

Isle of Wight RFC’s second team was victorious at Fawley, their first mainland win of the season, moving them up to seventh place in Solent Three after propping up the table early in the campaign.

Both teams were bolstered by a couple of players from neighbouring Romsey and Stoneham, and a depleted Island were able to field a full 15 with replacements. They imposed their open running game from the off, as the forwards delivered quality possession and the backs made hay. Centre James Deas, returning from a long absence, weaved through the cover to score the opener, and soon added another after incisive play from midfield partner Harry Dye. IW looked dangerous every time they moved the ball, and after Dye attracted several defenders, he parted to Deas who completed a remarkable hat-trick inside the first 20 minutes.

21 points down, Fawley realised that they had a mountain to climb, but began to retain possession and establish a foothold. At the same time, IW appeared to slacken off and became a little passive in defence. The hosts constructed a good try from a blindside grubber kick, and then intercepted a stray IW pass to run in a converted score to trail 21-12.

Though under some pressure in the set scrums, the IW pack competed well and had plenty of joy at the breakdown, where Rouse Ltd man of the match Tom Turtle was especially effective. Captain Dean Jennings also battled manfully in his first game for over two years. The forwards finished the first half in the ascendancy, building phases before back row Dillan Egan cantered over. Dye converted all four first half tries, giving IW a 28-12 lead at half-time.

IW were in good shape, but Fawley showed fight and had the better of the third quarter. Though IW defence was strong, an outrageous piece of skill from a home player unlocked the door and gave Fawley their third try, narrowing the gap to nine once again.

The Islanders needed to raise their game again, and to their credit dominated the remainder of the match. A five metre scrum was solid and gave the platform for busy scrum-half Dave Hanson to dart over, before replacement wing Steve Sellick crossed in the right corner to seal the victory. IW saw out the remaining minutes and celebrated a deserved victory.

IW: Williams, Sweatman, Deas, Dye, Ormerod, Fitton, Hanson, Hill, Turtle, Jennings ©, D Bishop, J Bishop, Jones, Egan, Creal. Replacements: Giddens, Sanchez, Sellick, Leahy.