Match Report – Archive

Trial game v Sandown & Shanklin (H), Sat. 31 Aug. 2013 Date Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 10:55PM

IW 5 Sandown & Shanklin 34
Two of the Island’s rugby clubs began their season with a Wootton Rec friendly which served as a trial for both squads. In the end, the higher league experience of the visitors proved decisive, though both clubs achieved their aims of getting valuable game time and trying out new players and positions.

S & S were always likely to take the spoils on the day, and at times they did look a division above their hosts. However, the IW will be encouraged by how they matched their opponents for large sections of proceedings. In glorious sunshine and on rock-hard ground, a feast of tries might have been expected, but committed defences dominated the early part of the game and the IW particularly relished numerous opportunities for tackling practice. The match remained scoreless until busy flanker Tom Hatch’s sinbinning on 15 minutes. S & S took full advantage, scoring two tries while he was absent and showing impressive handling and offloading skills.

The IW had a roughly equal share of territory and spoiled Sandown ball profitably, but also were disrupted themselves when in promising positions. S & S were more economical when entering IW territory, and added a third try on 33 minutes to lead 19-0 at the break.

Both sides made numerous substitutions to experiment and try out new players, but the game remained competitive and more intense than a typical pre-season match, even though a high level of discipline and sportsmanship was maintained. The IW deservedly got on the scoresheet after 52 minutes, as Brett Evans put in a weighted attacking kick which was chased and gathered by Josh Collinson. The ball was quickly recycled, and good hands by Lewis Murray and Dan Taylor enabled Dan Stirrup to score in the corner. S & S did cancel this out with another five-pointer before the three-quarter mark.

Both sides displayed a refreshingly positive attitude and willingness to attack as the game drew to a close, though it was S & S who would have the last word, scoring two tries in the final quarter. This left the final score emphatic in their favour, though rather harsh on an IW side who gave a good account of themselves.

The IW will look forward to their league campaign with relish, not least due to strong performances from newcomers Tom Woodhouse and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dan Tennant at hooker. Catalin Dinu, Kierhan Dry and Ian Robinson-Phoenix also made their returns after lengthy absences, which augurs well for the season to come.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Taylor, N Puckett, Woodhouse, Murray, Evans, D Tanner, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Andy Brown, Pugh-Panther, Hatch, Lynch, Dinu, Newnham, Love, C Courtney, Wallace, Collinson, Robinson-Phoenix, Dry, Angus Brown, Mitchell, Moffat.

AuthorIWRFC | Comment1 Comment | Share ArticleShare Article! Reader Comments (1)
Just sorry I couldn’t stay and play my part, boys well played.

August 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter Gyles

2nds v Southsea Nomads (H), Sat. 7 Sep. 2013 Date Sunday, September 8, 2013 at 11:12AM

IW 2nds 36 Southsea Nomads 2nds 22
A strong second half performance was the key to the Isle of Wight second team beginning their league campaign with a win at Wootton Rec. After a difficult opening 50 minutes, the IW would cut loose and entertain the large attendance with some good scores.

Nomads travelled short of players and were reliant on the IW lending them four players to make the teams more competitive. This was certainly how things turned out from the start, in a game partly shaped by a strong breeze which the IW faced in the first half. Despite this, they started the better side. A couple of handling errors and forced passes delayed the opening score, before a move after 8 minutes started by captain for the day Gary Warvill gave Tom Woodhouse the chance to show determination and touch down, in spite of the attentions of two defenders.

The visitors now settled and began to dominate territory, forcing the IW to defend for long periods. This they did very successfully, but struggled to clear their lines and were punished by Nomads levelling the scores on 28 minutes. Buoyed by this, Nomads were soon back on the attack, taking the lead just before halftime courtesy of IW loan player Tom Hatch, who appeared to be in touch as he grounded the ball though the referee disagreed. Nomads led 10-5 at the break.

IW were not discouraged at this point, knowing that they had the wind in their favour and that their pack were likely to outlast the opposition. The first 10 minutes of the half were scrappy, but just as the IW support were beginning to show concern, their team were back on terms. A series of forward drives were stopped short before flanker Kierhan Dry crashed over for a deserved try.

This score was probably the turning point of the game, as the IW took control, dominating scrums and posing a number of threats, with replacement Charles Courtney making a big impression. A Warvill blindside break was supported by Adam Thomas for the lead score, before Dry took advantage of a misfiring Nomads lineout to score his second try. Warvill converted and the IW now led 22-10.

The Southsea side now tired and the IW took advantage. Rouse Ltd. man of the match Josh Collinson provided a superb service from scrum-half, while Chris Williams made a polished return from a long injury absence. It was the latter who drew two defenders and passed to Keith Wallace to crash over out wide. Warvill converted this, as well as his own try shortly afterwards. To Nomads’ credit, they did not lose heart and scored two tries of their own in the last 10 minutes, one from Andy Brown, another IW loanee.

IW: Harley, Woodhouse, Angus Brown, Mitchell, Warvill, Collinson, J Wright, Tennant, Newnham, Thomas, Moffat, Dry, Wallace, Williams, Courtney, Andy Brown, Hatch.

2nds v Chineham (A), Sat. 14 Sept. 2013 Date Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 11:30AM

Chineham II 34 IW II 19

Defeat was the IW second team’s lot in Basingstoke on their first road trip of the season. Blitzed by a large home side in a ten minute spell just before halftime, the IW played much encouraging rugby and were pleased with their second-half performance.

Giving away a considerable weight advantage to Chineham all over the pitch, the IW pursued an expansive gameplan and looked threatening early on, but when a midfield move broke down, the hosts took advantage to score their opening try. Another was soon added and the IW were down 12 points in as many minutes. The injury-enforced departure of forward stalwart Mark Westley was a further setback.

It was notable that the IW had an unlikely advantage in the scrums for the opening half-hour, adjusting well to the new scrum laws. Colman Cotter orchestrated as captain and scrum-half, while Reuben Mitchell was his usual busy self. Errors hampered their continuity of possession, but when they drove into the Chineham 22, long passes by Kieran Leahy and Chris Williams enabled Mike Dalchow to cut back on the angle and score. Williams converted to narrow the gap to five.

Soon the key period of the game followed. Chineham began to exert dominance territorially and in the scrum, and following another try coming from an IW turnover, they added two more in a ten minute spell to extend their lead to 29-7 at halftime. Things looked ominous for the IW now, as they would have to play up the slope in the second period.

The Island began the second half in style. Securing quick ball from a scrum on the halfway line, Williams moved the ball right to debutant Bjorn Coysh, who showed good pace to race over for a converted try. Within the next ten minutes, the IW had a third try, as a fabulous backline move led to a deserved try for the excellent Martin Keyworth.

Now trailing 29-19, the Island were sensing an unlikely comeback, as Irish debutant Jack Kingston and Rouse Ltd man of the match Toby Moffat got through a great amount of work. It was stalemate on the scoreboard for almost half an hour, and though the IW created some half-chances to score further tries, they ran out of steam right at the end. Chineham set up camp on the IW line and patiently drove the ball through the phases before coming up with the try.

IW: Harley, Keyworth, Coysh, Dalchow, Eggleton, Williams, Cotter, J Wright, Mitchell, Savill, Harrison, Leahy, Moffat, Kingston, Westley.

1sts v Solent University (H), Sat. 21 Sept. 2013! DateSunday, September 22, 2013 at 12:04PM

Isle of Wight 23 Solent University 41

This looked like a tough day at the office for the first team. A combination of factors probably contributed to a comprehensive home defeat – the IW didn’t play as well as they would have liked, Solent were a very impressive outfit, while the already threadbare IW back division was stretched beyond breaking point by injuries. But excuses are the refuge of the weak, and the IW were quick to admit that the students were the better side and deserved their win.

Missing regulars Dan Taylor, Ben Ridley and Dan Stirrup, the IW gave a debut to Will Marsh in the centre – he gave a fine account of himself. It was very even early on, Lewis ‘Big Dog’ Murray landing a 40 metre penalty inside 3 minutes, soon cancelled out by the Uni kicker. Then the IW took the lead. Murray struck the post with another long-range penalty, but the opposition dithered over their clearance and Adam Thomas followed up for an opportunist try. The conversion made it 10-3.

Solent soon kicked another penalty to narrow their deficit, and were looking particularly dangerous when moving the ball wide. At times the IW tackling was not of the standard required, and Solent profited to score two tries. It was also in the period that the Island were hit by injuries in the back division, as Nick Puckett and then Murray departed the fray. The IW now were missing all their first team centres and had to reshuffle furiously, Tom Hatch being the first to move to centre, while Gary ‘Gary’ Warvill slotted in at fly-half. The latter kicked a penalty, but Solent closed the half with a brilliant lineout move and a try under the sticks, to lead 23-13 at the break.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the IW, as they did play some good rugby themselves. The backs understandably lacked cohesion, but Rouse Ltd man of the match Brett ‘Zimby’ Evans was always a threat and the forwards began to dictate the scrums after struggling early on. However, Solent broke through for another converted try within eight minutes of the restart, and at 30-13 looked home and dry.

Encouragingly, the IW rallied. Some excellent attacking play was thwarted time and again, sometimes legally, sometimes not. Solent incurred a yellow card in this period, one of five in the game as a whole – it wasn’t a dirty game, but both sides struggled to stay on the right side of the referee at the breakdown and offside line. The IW settled for a Warvill penalty first of all, but were soon back on the students’ line and engineered a pushover try from a five metre scrum, touched down by Ed Lynch. Warvill’s extras had the score at 30-23 with 15 minutes still to play.

The large attendance tried to spur the IW on, but the students had plenty in the tank and wrested back the advantage. They kicked two penalties to stretch their lead, and finished the game on top scoring one more try to embellish the victory. In this period, further injuries left the IW reshuffle bordering on farcical, with prop Dave Tanner pressed into service at inside centre! Overall, Solent look like a side who will inhabit the higher reaches of Hampshire One this season – no mean feat for a newly promoted team. The IW will look forward to welcoming back some absent players to offset the injury losses suffered in this game.

IW: Williams, Warvill, Marsh, Puckett, Collinson, Murray, Evans, D Tanner, Newnham, M Tanner, Boulter, Thomas, Andy Brown, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Eggleton, Cotter, Jennings.

1sts v Alton (A), Sat. 14 Sept. 2013 Date Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 10:53PM

Alton RFC 27, Isle of Wight RFC 1st XV 25

With a new coaching set up in place behind the scenes and anew captain on the pitch, the Islanders made the trip to Alton for their first league fixture of the season in a positive mood to face opponents unbeaten at home in last season’s league fixtures.

The Islanders started strongly and were 10-0 up following a long distance penalty from the assured Lewis Murray, who also converted right winger Gary Warvill’s 25th minute well-worked try. There were, however, warning signs as infringements by the Islanders allowed Alton penalty kicks at goal which their kicker was unable to take.

Alton was soon on the scoreboard with a penalty, and with halftime approaching momentum shifted away from the IW with a length of the pitch break. The IW was awarded a 5m penalty, which scrumhalf Brett Evans tapped quickly and looked odds-on to score, even though the Alton defence had not retreated the required distance. However, a tackle from a non-retreating player resulted in Evans loosing control of the ball as he attempted to ground it. From the ensuing loose ball Alton broke and scored a try of their own, which was duly converted for a half-time score of 10-10.

This was a blow from which the Islanders almost never recovered, and Alton seized the initiative with the first points of the second half and going into the lead for the first time in the game with a converted try after 45 minutes. The lead then doubled to 24-10 following a kick and chase from midfield. With IW looking to get back into the game, penalties were traded leaving the score 27-13 with 15 minutes to go.

However, following good build-up play, centre and Rouse Ltd man-of-the-match Dan Taylor touched down for an unconverted try. This galvanised the Islanders who began once again to believe in themselves and applied pressure to the Alton line. This was rewarded with 3 minutes of the match remaining, when Ed Lynch capitalised on the hard work of the tight five by scoring a push-over try from a 5m scrum.

Belatedly the Isle of Wight strove for the victory, and nearly snatched it when a penalty was awarded on the halfway line. Murray narrowly failed to take the 3 points required by the Islanders for victory, with his kick only just falling short.

Whilst both teams were applauded for their part in an entertaining and physical game, the Islanders left Alton knowing that with a little more composure a tight game would, and indeed should, have gone their way. There were significant positives for the IW to take away from the game. The performances of Tom Hatch and Ben Ridley belied their age, the mobility and direct style of debutant hooker Dan Tennant gave the forwards another dimension and there was, on the whole, good game management across the park.

D Tanner, D Tennant, M Newnham, O Boulter (capt), A Thomas, And Brown, T Hatch, E Lynch; B Evans, L Murray, B Ridley, N Puckett, D Taylor, G Warvill, D Stirrup. Replacements: D Jennings, T Love, J Collinson.

1sts v US Portsmouth (A), Sat. 28 Sep. 2013 Date Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 12:19PM

USP 40 v IWRFC 20

Until injuries took their toll in the last quarter of the game and the score line skewed towards USP, the Island team took it to their hosts in a keenly contested game. It was though the hosts who opened the scoring after 6 minutes when a turnover ball from an Island attack enabled a chip and chase to expose the lack of covering defence.

The majority of the early exchanges were in the middle of the park and whilst both teams tried to play an attacking game, both struggled with mistakes and a lack of composure at crucial times. There were, however, encouraging signs for the Islanders with pacey young winger Will Marsh making a number of breaks and debutant backrow forward Simon Crew putting in a sterling defensive effort.

IW drew level at 5 all when, on 24 minutes, a 9-8-9 move from a scrum in USP’s 22 resulted in Brett Evans touching down. The Islanders then settled into a better pattern of play, and following a good structure and a number of phases Ed Lynch drove over from yet another powerful IW scrum. This time Gary Warvill converted and stretched the lead to 13-5. Yet again the Islanders conceded a try moments before halftime, which is a habit to be addressed. However, the Island team went into the break 13-12 up.

Following a period of sustained pressure in the USP 22, a powerful run from centre Ben Ridley broke the defensive line for a converted try giving the Islander’s an 8 point advantage. The lead was eroded after 55 minutes with a converted USP try, and it was at point that injuries in key positions yet again hampered the Islanders’ ability to compete against well organised opposition.

The last quarter of the game saw two converted USP tries without response, to give a somewhat misleading score line, although the dogged determination showed by the IW throughout, but especially in this period of the game was personified by the Rouse Ltd man-of-the-match Adam Thomas and Gyles Panther-Pugh, who was playing in the unfamiliar position of winger.

IW:M Tanner, D Tennant, D Jennings, A Brown, A Thomas, S Crew, T Hatch, E Lynch; B Evans, G Warvill, G Panther-Pugh, D Taylor, B Ridley, W Marsh, D Stirrup. Subs: M Newnham, K Dry, B Coysh

1sts v Southampton (H), Sat. 5 Oct. 2013 Date Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 2:25PM

IW 29 Southampton 32

Instead of celebrating their first victory of the season at Wootton Rec, the IW suffered a shock defeat to fellow strugglers Southampton. In spite of leading by 16 points late in the second half, a sensational last gasp three try salvo undid the home side.

The game was closely contested for the first 50 minutes before each team in turn had a purple patch. Gary Warvill kicked the IW into the lead with an eighth-minute penalty, but this was soon cancelled out by the Southampton fly-half after Tom Hatch was sinbinned for preventing a quick tap penalty. The game developed into a scrappy though wholeheartedly contested affair, punctuated by errors and the referee’s whistle.

Hatch soon returned and the IW took the lead. A Brett Evans break put them in good field position, and the forwards patiently went through the phases, being met by dogged defence, before Dan Stirrup’s determined run saw him crash over under the posts. Again Southampton responded in kind, exploiting some missed tackles and showing some good broken field running skills to score.

Southampton’s game plan was largely based around their forward pack and their elusive French scrum-half, while the Island would have preferred to play expansive rugby. The forwards were holding their own in all phases of play but clean ball was scarce. They did finish the first half on the up, battering at the visiting defence before Dave Tanner bounced off a tackle and touched down. This gave the IW a 15-10 lead at halftime.

The mainlanders began the second half with intent, scoring a penalty to narrow the gap to two points. There followed the IW’s best spell, helped by a Southampton sinbinning. A marvellous move off scrum ball by the IW backs afforded Warvill space to step past the cover defence for a great try, which he converted himself. Then Stirrup ran the ball out of defence to gain major yardage, and when the ball was recycled, Evans broke free for a try from the halfway line. The extra points left the IW seemingly sitting pretty at 29-13 with over 25 minutes to play, and a four-try bonus point secured.

It was now expected that Southampton would tire and the IW would be able to add further scores. The next 10 minutes were evenly contested, but then Southampton set up territory and began to put the IW defence under severe pressure. The home rearguard did at first cope well, but then gaps began to appear, and Southampton scored a deserved converted try with approximately 10 minutes remaining.

A consolation score seemed to be the extent of the damage, but Southampton were soon back
on the attack and broke through for another seven-pointer as normal time expired. Now only
trailing by two points, the visitors were energised while the IW seemed shell-shocked. Straight from the kickoff, Southampton made a break into the IW 22 with the help of a forward pass. Despairing defence kept them out but only temporarily, as Southampton scored an improbable winning try in the sixth and last minute of stoppage time.

IW: Stirrup, Williams, Marsh, Ridley, Warvill, Taylor, Evans, D Tanner, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Andy Brown, Crew, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Newnham, Pugh-Panther, Love.

2nds v Romsey (A), Sat. 12 Oct. 2013
Romsey II 27 IW II 12
Romsey seconds started the better side in this Merit table fixture, and maintained their advantage all the way to the final whistle. The IW were left to reflect on a second consecutive game where they only played close to their best when facing an uphill battle.

The hosts played with the slope in the first half, in a match fought out in ideal conditions. They pushed the IW back early on, scoring the opening try after 9 minutes from a five metre scrum. A second try would soon follow, as Romsey’s experienced centre finished off a penetrating move.

The IW were threatening off limited possession, as Neil Brading and Rouse Ltd man of the match Richard Crossland broke the defensive line. However, linkup play and handling was not of the standard required by the IW, and attacks sooner or later foundered. Credit should also go to the Romsey first-up tackling, which was of a standard higher than normally seen at this level. After a period of fairly even play, Romsey broke through for another try and a 15-0 halftime advantage.

Tactical switches and renewed optimism saw the IW begin the second half brightly. They were then bizarrely undone as captain Colman Cotter’s pass from a lineout was intercepted by a Romsey player who was several metres offside – no whistle ensued and he cantered over the line without concealing his amusement

This injustice spurred the IW on, and they soon broke their duck as a flowing move was finished off by speedy winger Harry Dye. Now the IW were belatedly flying, attacking with pace and panache. Romsey were adept at killing the ball and stopping IW momentum in their own danger zone; they were yellow carded once for this though it could easily have been more. Nevertheless, within minutes the IW were celebrating a second try as replacement Mark Westley raced over after another enterprising move. Dye’s conversion narrowed the gap to 20-12.

The next score proved crucial, and the IW only had themselves to blame as they switched off allowing an alert Romsey duo to take a quick lineout and score an opportunist try. This was the proverbial nail in the coffin though there remained 15 minutes to play. The IW tried everything in attack for that time, but a combination of errors and determined Romsey defence kept the scoreline unchanged until the end.

IW: Tombleson, Mitchell, Crossland, Peters, Dye, Brading, Cotter, Metcalfe, Love, Jennings, J Wright, A Puckett, Moffat, Frost-Jones, Harrison. Replacements: Savill, Westley, Murray, Freeman, Leahy.

1sts v Farnborough (A), Sat. 2 Nov. 2013 Date Tuesday, November 5, 2013 at 10:31PM

Farnborough 17 IW 12

The Isle of Wight RFC suffered another agonisingly close bonus-point defeat, this time on the road to a mid-table Farnborough team. The road trip began in bizarre circumstances with Red Funnel marshals inexplicably taking tickets from the whole team, but the boat left with only a third of the squad on board.

This delay meant a late arrival and truncated warm-up. These delays meant that the Islanders started slowly and were 10-0 down after ten minutes, with two unconverted tries coming from a combination of poor tackling and holes being punched in the Island’s defence by the direct running of the Farnborough midfielders. For the second week in a row strong wind conditions gave a distinct advantage, and once IWRFC had regained their composure they started using the elements and began to manage field position and the ball.

This led to a string of penalties within the Farnborough half, and the ever reliable boot of flyhalf Lewis Murray ensured that Farnborough were penalised for their indiscretions, so much so that the Islanders erased the early deficit and took a 12-10 into the break.

Against the strong wind in the second half the Islanders began strongly and produced a sustained period of pressure in and around the Farnborough 22, with man of the match Dan Tennant to the fore. However, the territory and possession was not converted into points and it was Farnborough who then began to use the wind, and their numerical advantage (with Dan Taylor invited to take a 10 minute rest by the referee) to their advantage. Farnborough’s third try came midway through the second half and signalled a sustained period of Farnborough pressure in the Islander’s half, through their direct approach play and strong scrummaging. The Islander’s defence however rallied, despite a spate of injuries, and ensured that their line wasn’t breached for a fourth time, and that a loosing bonus point was secured. The game ended as a 14-a-side affair with players from both teams receiving yellow cards for an off the ball scuffle.

IW: D Tanner, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Thomas, And. Brown, S Crew, E Lynch, Evans, Murray, Wood, Taylor, Ridley, Marsh, Stirrup. Subs: Newnham, Ang Brown.

2nds v Winchester (H), Sat. 2 Nov. 2013

Date Monday, November 4, 2013 at 9:32PM

IW II 80 Winchester IV 0

A scintillating performance set up the IW seconds’ biggest victory for some years at Wootton Rec.

Winchester are to be credited for turning up with 13 players – Stewart Brine and Toby Moffat graciously volunteered to play for them to even up the numbers, while Simon Evans did likewise later when Winchester lost a player to injury. All three acquitted themselves very well in a losing cause.

Captain for the day Mark Westley led by example, scoring the game’s opening try inside 10 minutes. This set the tone for some terrific rugby by the hosts, running the ball with pace and purpose. They racked up six tries by halftime and led 36-0 at that stage.

Winchester were energised by the halftime break and came close to scoring on the restart, but a great try-saving tackle by fullback Chris Williams kept the IW line intact. Normal service was soon resumed by the IW. Wing Reuben Mitchell and Rouse Ltd man of the match Brandon Frost-Jones ended up with hat-tricks, while Josh Wright, Neil Harrison and the returning Paul Courage all got on the scoresheet. Tom Hatch scored two tries from scrum-half, and Richard Crossland matched this from centre – the latter two added five conversions between them.

IW: Williams, Evans, Tombleson, Crossland, Mitchell, Courage, Hatch, Puzey, Love, Jennings, Harrison, Frost-Jones, Wright, Pugh-Panther, Westley, Brine, Moffat.

Date Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:11PM

IW 15 Andover 10

In windy and wet conditions, the IW delivered their best showing of the season so far to break their league duck and move out of the relegation zone. Following on from last week’s win at Ventnor and fielding at full strength, the team stepped their game up a notch and took the scalp of third-place Andover with a consummate performance full of grit and determination.

A strong breeze blew down the pitch and favoured the IW in the first half. Lewis Murray was wide with a long range penalty attempt early on, before opening the scoring with a closer effort after 7 minutes. Andover then had a good spell, looking threatening both up front and out wide and butchering a try-scoring opportunity. It would turn out to be a key moment, as the IW defence would not be found wanting from then on.

The IW themselves passed up a try chance on the 25 minute mark, as a break from Rouse Ltd man of the match Brett Evans was supported by the again impressive Andy Brown, but a forward pass put paid to finishing off the move. A second Murray penalty soon followed to extend the IW advantage. Then the hosts drove up to the Andover line, but a series of wrong options allowed the visitors to clear.

Two injuries to Andover players necessitated long stoppages and resulted in a remarkable 18 minutes of injury time in the first half. The IW finished the half again on the attack, but were unable to add to their 6-0 lead. With the strength of the breeze, it seemed probably not to be enough, particularly as Andover had looked dangerous when in IW territory.

The third quarter saw the IW play exceptional rugby into the wind and give themselves a crucial advantage to see them through the final stages. They carried the ball remorselessly at the opposition, while Murray and Dan Taylor kicked sparingly but effectively to pin Andover back. Among the backs, Ben Ridley and Dan Stirrup were especially strong in attack, while the back row of Crew, Hatch and Lynch were again doing trojan work, though the whole forward pack gave a marvellous account of themselves in the deteriorating conditions. The result of this was that the IW forced a series of penalties in Andover territory – Murray was unerring with the boot and brilliantly kicked three penalties against the elements, giving the IW a convincing 15-0 lead.

Andover seemed shell-shocked at this stage, having probably expected to win the game handsomely on all form to date. They roused themselves and laid siege to the Island line, but were repelled time and again, eventually settling for a penalty with 14 minutes remaining. Now it was the IW’s turn to be penalised, as they sought to halt Andover momentum but were also invariably punished at the breakdown when they tried to run the ball out. Yet Andover were unable to make them pay until the final minute of injury time, being awarded a penalty try which offered them the consolation of a bonus point.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Ridley, Taylor, Marsh, Murray, Evans, Newnham, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Andy Brown, Crew, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Thomas, Jennings, Williams.

(1st round Hampshire Plate)

DateSaturday, October 19, 2013 at 10:08PM

Ventnor 13 Isle of Wight 23
So, at last a win! The relief and jubilation on IW faces at the end of this match was worth waiting for. The season so far had seen good and bad rugby, not much luck and mostly narrow defeats and scant consolation of bonus points. In this cup game, the IW played well for much of the eighty and were fully rewarded for their heart and determination, overcoming the absence through injury and unavailability of five regulars.

This was a closely contested game where both teams had their moments, but the IW showed
some extra class on a couple of occasions, and were defensively superior in general. Yet it was the home team who started better, forcing two kickable penalties and converting one, before adding a try in the corner after about 12 minutes, as the IW defence faltered briefly. Ventnor led 8-0 early on.
Supporters would have been forgiven at this point for fearing the worst – morale was somewhat
low after recent defeats and this was not a good start. However, the response was impressive. The IW forward pack were superb from here on, secure on their own set piece ball and pressuring the Ventnor scrum. Lewis Murray was on form with the boot on the day, stroking over a penalty to narrow the gap, before converting the IW’s first try a few minutes later. Brett Zimby Evans and the immense Rouse Ltd man of the match Andy Brown carried well, before slick hands along the backline allowed Ben Ridley to dummy past the stretched defence and touch down.

Ventnor responded quickly, forcing an easy penalty chance which was missed – a let-off for the IW. They took partial advantage, as Murray kicked one of two subsequent penalty efforts, giving them
a 13-8 interval lead.
It is worth noting that as a local derby, the game appeared to be played in good spirit with both sides concentrating on rugby and entertaining the large crowd with an engrossing tussle. Still, the unusual and frankly bizarre practice by some (not all) Ventnor club members of failing to refer to
the IWRFC by its proper and RFU-registered name was again in evidence. To descend to this level of childishness would presumably involve Isle of Wight members referring to Watcombe Bottom RFC. But there’s no need for that.

Anyway, back to the rugby. Ventnor were again quickest to get started once the second half began, mauling to good effect and affording their back division enough room for a well worked try in the corner. This levelled the scores at 13-13, and the game was very much in the melting pot.

Now the IW, to a man, stood up and were counted. Skipper Ollie Boulter was tremendous, leading by example and inspiring those around him. Dan Taylor and the polished Ridley were an impassable centre partnership, while the back row of Crew, Hatch and Lynch got through an amount of work. Driving into the Ventnor half, the IW would soon engineer the best score of the match. Brilliant hands along the backline, in particular by Gary Warvill, allowed Will Marsh space, and his pace was enough to see him over in the right corner. Murray converted brilliantly and the IW led by seven.

There was still plenty of time for Ventnor to recover, and they tried hard, but from now on they would find the IW rearguard in unforgiving mood. Indeed, the IW had their fair share of territory in the remainder of the game, coming close to scoring another try but settling for a close-range Murray penalty. The winners saw out the last few minutes in relative comfort, ensuring a hard- fought but fully deserved victory.

This win puts the IW into the quarter-final of the cup, and they look forward to a winnable but tricky tie at Locksheath Pumas on 18 January. Unfortunately the triumph counts for no league points, but hopefully it may mark a turning point in the Hampshire One campaign. The next opportunity to improve our lowly league position comes at home to Andover next Saturday, and with some of this game’s absentees to return, there are reasons to be cheerful. Onwards and upwards.

IW: Warvill, Marsh, Ridley, Taylor, Wood, Murray, Evans, Newnham, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Andy Brown, Crew, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Jennings, White, Pugh-Panther, Brading.

1sts v Romsey (A), Sat. 12 Oct. 2013

Date Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 10:07PM
Romsey 27 IW 24

The Islanders yet again came agonisingly close to recording their first win of the season at fellow strugglers Romsey. Following on from the disappointment of the Southampton game an improved performance was requested, and this was duly delivered with the Island starting well.

However, following an initial period of sustained possession and territory, an Adam ‘Beets’ Thomas pass was intercepted allowing a try to be scored from within the Romsey half. Thomas though used the disappointment of the interception to inspire a Rouse Ltd Man of the Match performance, and with Nick Puckett taking the direct route through the midfield the Islanders enjoyed a significant amount of ball and field position in the early stages of the game. This was built upon with the Island forward pack exerted dominance in the set pieces over their larger Romsey opponents.

However, it was Romsey who scored the tries in the first half. The belief that had disappeared the previous week remained within the Islanders camp, and whilst both teams struggled with an over- zealous referee, they began to fight back through a combination of Gary Warvill penalties and tries by Ben Ridley and Chris Williams.

Indeed, the Islanders thought they had taken the lead, only for the referee to rule that Williams had undertaken a double-movement in grounding the ball. The last ten minutes of the match was a tense affair, with both teams locked at 24 all. An infringement in front of the Islanders posts saw the impressive Romsey kicker land the decisive penalty with two minutes to play. This galvanised the Island to look for the score to give them the win, and following good build up play in the Romsey 22 an opportunity was created for the drop-goal but Warvill pushed the effort agonisingly wide of the posts signalling the end of the game.!

IW: D Tanner, D Tennant, M Tanner, O Boulter, A Thomas, S Crew, T Hatch, E Lynch; B Evans, D Taylor, C Williams, B RIdley, W Marsh, G Warvill, D Stirrup. Subs: M Newnham, A Brown, N Puckett

1sts v Overton (A), Sat. 7 Dec. 2013
Date Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 8:39PM

Overton 14 IW 23!

A determined IWRFC squad travelled to Overton for this bottom of the table clash, and returned back to the Island with the second win of the season under their belts. It was a hard won victory for the Islanders who encountered a large and physical home team. Both teams played hard and aggressive rugby, but in contrasting styles and in this instance brains ultimately comfortably beat brawn.

The Islanders took a 3-0 advantage at half time thanks to a penalty goal from Lewis Murray and, more importantly, a determined defensive performance that saw the home team’s big runners stopped at source, with full-back Dan Stirrup resolute in the tackle whenever the Island’s defensive line was broken.

The game sparked into life in the second half with Tom Hatch and the Rouse Ltd man of the match James Curran dominating at the breakdown, both offensively and defensively. This gave the Islanders the quick ball they wanted and allowed a wide game to be played. Dan Taylor was the first to break the try line, after some typically determined running. Murray was unable to convert, but soon made amends with another penalty to make the score 11-0.

Young winger Mike Wood stood out, having only ever played a handful of senior games, with excellent pace and running lines, and he was unfortunate to be denied a well-deserved score by a high tackle. The same attributes were shown by Will Marsh, who revelled in his switch from wing to centre, and his try was a superb individual effort following a following backs move from an Overton clearance kick. Murray converted for a lead of 18-0.

A shut out looked possible for the Islanders, but Overton gave themselves hope with a quarter of the game remaining with a converted try following a number of tight phases in the Island’s 22. This however galvanised the Island to produce a further score as they sought a bonus point, and their third try was scored with a jinking finish by Gary Warvill following a move that went across the width of the pitch and back. With the game realistically now over, Overton took the consolation of scoring the game’s final points when a gaping space appeared following a ruck on the Islander’s 22 to give the final score of 23-14.

IW: Newnham, Tennant, Boulter, Harrison, Brown, Curran, Hatch, Lynch, Evans, Murray, Woods, Taylor, Marsh, Warvill, Stirrup. Subs: Love, Mitchell, J Wright.

1sts v Bognor (H), Sat. 30 Nov. 2013

Date Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 9:52PM

IW 15 Bognor 19

In their first encounter with Bognor since the latter’s transfer to Hampshire rugby, the IW ended up with a disappointing defeat. Bognor deserved the win as they scored the only three tries of the game and had the better of the game territorially, but the IW finished strongly and could have stolen the spoils at the end.

Bognor fielded one of the biggest XVs the IW have met recently, as their backs matched their forwards for size. Meanwhile, the IW pack were at full strength but suffered from several unavailabilities in the back division, as veterans Neil Brading and Lee Hodgson were pressed into action. The sides themselves were well matched throughout the game, but defences held sway as both sides made little headway in attack for most of the game. Bognor’s strong running centres did put a dent in the IW rearguard after 10 minutes which led to a converted try, and the premature loss of Hodgson to a broken nose, further disrupting the hosts.

The IW now had their own spell of pressure, forcing two penalty opportunities – Lewis Murray was accurate with the second of these to narrow the deficit. The visitors were backed by the wind and returned to IW territory for much of the second quarter, but though they were very close to scoring on one occasion, the IW defence contained them well. Some enormous tackles set the tone, particularly from James Curran and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dan Taylor. Bognor led 7-3 at halftime.

Scores came more readily at the start of the second half. Murray was on the mark from a penalty again, but Bognor replied very quickly, finding space out wide to score and lead 12-6. The game had been somewhat stop-start in the first half, and this was pronounced at this stage of the game as both teams were repeatedly penalised by the referee at the breakdown. Each team had a player sent to the bin as a result. An unflappable Murray was twice on target with penalties in this period, and the scores were now level.

The IW were playing with great heart but showed no semblance of a cutting edge throughout the 80 minutes against a strong Bognor defence – only some good forward driving play and the ever dangerous Brett Evans were making headway. Meanwhile, Bognor were still having the better of territory, and when they scored a converted try from a fine blindside move, the home side were not in a promising position.

The last 10 minutes were all IW. For the first time in the game, they carried a real attacking threat and stretched the opposition. A penalty was forced with six minutes to go, and though some expected the IW to go for an equalising seven-pointer, they opted for Murray’s fifth penalty and gambled on getting another chance for a winning score. Further penalties were earned deep in Bognor territory, which were kicked to touch in search of the winner. However, the IW lineout had been creaking for most of the afternoon and continued to malfunction when the need was greatest; Bognor stole the ball and held on until the end. At least the IW had a bonus point to show for their efforts, which moved them above Southampton and out of the relegation zone.

IW: Hodgson, Ridley, Brading, Taylor, Marsh, Murray, B Evans, Boulter, Tennant, M Tanner, Thomas, Andy Brown, Curran, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Pugh-Panther, Newnham.

2nds v Fareham Heathens (H), Sat. 23 Nov. 2013!

Date Sunday, November 24, 2013 at 11:39AM!
IW II 22 Fareham Heathens II 20

A performance of guts and adventure yielded the scalp of league leaders Fareham Heathens at Wootton Rec, and moved the Island seconds into the top half of the table with games in hand.

The visitors travelled with confidence but a knowledge that they would get nothing easy on the Island. They scored almost immediately, as the IW failed to deal with the kickoff and conceded a penalty, which was accurately kicked. Heathens held wind advantage and had the better of territory early on, but the IW were already serving notice of their attacking threat through impressive back play and strong runs by Nathan Proud and Reuben Mitchell. Their first try arrived on 17 minutes, after a great spell of continuity was finished off by in-form fly-half Gary Warvill.

This lead did not last long, as Heathens were gifted a try by a loose pass from an IW lineout. They now led 8-5, but the IW continued to force the pace with regular attacks. Warvill finished one of these with the help of a clever dummy, giving the IW a 10-8 lead at halftime.

The third quarter would be all about the home side, playing some excellent rugby which Heathens struggled to contain. Rouse Ltd man of the match Kierhan Dry was involved in everything, tackling his heart out and carrying with aggression, while the rest of the pack were competing well against a bigger Fareham unit. A third try was scored early in the half, Warvill completing his hat-trick with a break from inside his own half, and then converting it. Another score followed after 55 minutes, as the rampant IW were now running almost everything and outflanking the opposition. This time it was Mark Westley who made significant yardage, and a timely offload by replacement Simon Evans was gathered by Proud for a superb try and a 22-8 lead.

Heathens reacted to their predicament and owned the ball for most of the final quarter. They were camped on the IW line for a considerable length of time but met with fierce home resistance – one try-saving hit by replacement Sam Lock stood out but there were many more. Eventually Heathens did score an unconverted try with six minutes left.

The IW were now out on their feet and struggling to regain the ball, but managed to hold Heathens out until the last play, which saw the losers score a try under the posts, converted to narrow the final gap to two points. The hosts celebrated their victory in the knowledge that they had shown more than a glimpse of their potential, with a mixture of great spirit and attacking rugby.

IW: Lillington, Keyworth, Mitchell, Angus Brown, Proud, Warvill, Cotter, Brine, Love, Jennings, Wright, Moffat, Dry, Pugh-Panther, Westley. Replacements: Johnston, Lock, S Evans, Coysh.

2nds v Southampton (A), Sat. 16 Nov. 2013

Date Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 9:27PM
Southampton II 21 IW II 15

In a hastily arranged friendly due to the inability of the IW’s original opposition (Alresford) to fulfil a league fixture, the Island seconds came out second best at Test Park.

The teams were well matched during this enthusiastically contested battle, cancelling each other out for the first half hour, though both had their spells of pressure. Scrums were even, despite Southampton’s weight advantage, and Rouse Ltd man of the match Stewart Brine’s performance in the unfamiliar hooker position stood out.

Eventually, the IW broke the deadlock on 31 minutes. The impressive Andy Brown made headway into the home 22, and Neil Brading delayed his pass well for the looping Tony Lillington to show his paces and score. A second try soon followed, as the IW played with great continuity for skipper Colman Cotter to touch down, in spite of the attentions of two defenders. The IW led 10-0 at halftime.

Under pressure, Southampton introduced several first team players and their South Sea Island contingent would cause the IW serious discomfort. They played smartly by using their strong driving maul to tire the Islanders, before moving the ball with purpose. This led to their opening try, converted to narrow the gap to three points.

The score remained at 10-7 for a long spell, but Southampton were threatening regularly, and scored two tries – the latter with 7 minutes to go. With hope seeming lost, the IW went on the attack and another fine move was finished off by the galloping veteran Mark Westley to put the IW back within a score. There remained plenty of injury time to snatch victory, but the IW struggled to run the ball out of their own 22 in this time, and Southampton saw out the end of the game to finish victorious.

IW: Lillington, Mitchell, Curran, Tombleson, Wood, Brading, Cotter, Wright, Brine, Jennings, Thomas, Andy Brown, Wallace, McAdam, Westley. Replacement: Angus Brown.

1sts v Fordingbridge (H), Sat. 9 Nov. 2013

Date Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 10:39PM
IW 9 Fordingbridge 19

High-flying Fordingbridge took the spoils in heavy underfoot conditions at Wootton Rec. The IW acquitted themselves well against, in this writer’s view, potentially the strongest side in Hampshire One, and were disappointed not to come away with at least a bonus point, but the winners were fully deserving.

A high standard of rugby was often maintained despite the less than ideal conditions – both teams mixed their game well and tested each other’s defence to the full. Generally, neither rearguard was found wanting. Lewis Murray kicked the IW into a tenth minute lead with a penalty, but this was almost immediately nullified by Fordingbridge. It was the visitors who had the better of the game at this point, stretching the IW defence and showing lots of pace and sure handling. Dan Taylor and Ben Ridley were unyielding in the centre, and though Fordingbridge got close to the try line on two occasions, they were forced to settle for two penalty goals, one on the stroke of halftime. They led 9-3 at the break.

Ominous signs heralded the second half’s opening, as the visitors were straight on the attack and kicked another penalty to stretch their lead beyond a score. Rouse Ltd man of the match and captain Ollie Boulter led from the front and his forward pack responded, scrummaging well and producing some sublime driving play. Eventually a penalty was forced, slotted by Murray to return the deficit to six points.

The key phase of the game followed. Fordingbridge again drove close to the IW line, and from a scrum they cut a good line to break the home side’s tackles and score under the posts. The conversion left the score at 19-6, and though 25 minutes remained, things looked bleak for the home team.

Back came the IW, pressing into the ‘Bridge 22. Taylor placed through a well-weighted grubber kick into the in-goal area, and though Chris Williams narrowly failed to ground the ball, Brett Evans did so close to touch-in-goal. Fordingbridge’s touch judge confirmed that the try was legitimate, but the referee was unsighted and chose to award a five-metre scrum, which would be well defended by the winners.

Another penalty was earned and kicked by Murray. Time was now ebbing away but the IW were targeting at least a bonus point, yet passed up an admittedly difficult penalty kick which proved to be their last chance to get within seven points. Both teams were applauded off at the end after serving up an entertaining and skilled game. Though the IW did play well, coach Lee Hodgson pointed out that consistent attendance at training is essential for the team to continue their progress.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Ridley, Taylor, Marsh, Murray, Evans, D Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Boulter, Andy Brown, Crew, Hatch, Tennant. Replacements: M Tanner, Angus Brown, Williams.

1sts v US Portsmouth (A), 18 Jan. 2014! Date Saturday, January 18, 2014 at 9:51PM

United Services Portsmouth 46 IW 0

The IW were heavily defeated at HMS Temeraire in their second league game of 2014. As their Wootton Rec pitch was unplayable for the second time for this fixture, league regulations dictated that they would have to yield home advantage to the Services side. USP’s 4G artificial pitch was unaffected by the recent wet weather, so it was a historic occasion for the IW as their first ever game on such a surface.

IW would have fancied their chances on their home turf, but had lost 40-20 in the last fixture against this opposition in September, and were well beaten on this occasion. US Portsmouth are a mercurial presence in Hampshire One, but this was one of their good days as they followed up last week’s 101 point haul against Alton. The IW were under pressure from the off, stemming the tide at first but conceding the opening try after nine minutes.

In truth, USP dominated all facets of the game, while the IW were some way off their best. Set- pieces were mostly the domain of the hosts, and their breakdown work was impressive too. IW did force a long-range penalty, but Lewis Murray’s effort fell just shy, and USP registered two further tries inside the half-hour mark. Injury to Tom Hatch and the mysterious sin binning of Dan Stirrup for a non-existent trip offence did not help the Island cause, and the Services added a fourth try to wrap the bonus point before the break, leading 22-0.

The IW showed customary spirit against their rampant opposition throughout, and in the second half they had much more of the ball, battering away but making little headway against a superb defence, and being forced into errors. These were punished by a slick home side, who matched their four try haul in the second half. IW defence itself was determined but overworked – James Curran stood out despite carrying an injury. Brett Evans, captain Ollie Boulter and Rouse Ltd man of the match Stirrup never stopped taking the game to USP, and the IW finished the game on the opposition try line, but without reward on the scoreboard.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Marsh, Taylor, Wood, Murray, B Evans, Newnham, Tennant, Jennings, Boulter, Andy Brown, Ridley, Hatch, Curran. Replacements: Angus Brown, M Tanner, Greedy.

1sts v Southampton (A), 11 Jan. 2014

Date Monday, January 13, 2014 at 7:36PM
Southampton 17 IW 25
The Islanders travelled to Southampton looking for a victory to move themselves away from their hosts in the Hampshire 1 relegation zone, and they began brightly to move into an early six point lead following two penalties from flyhalf Lewis Murray. Memories of the reverse fixture earlier in the season when the Islanders contrived to lose from being 17 points ahead seemed to be banished when young centre Will Marsh went over in the corner to stretch the lead to 11 points, following a sustained period of Isle of Wight pressure in the Southampton 22. The home team though started

to get into the game through their trademark rolling mauls, and despite having little possession or territory scored the game’s next try.

This galvanised the Islanders into an immediate response, when Andy Brown collected the restart and made significant yardage. Following quick support play the ball was recycled for Ben Ridley to score and Murray to convert for a halftime score of 18-5 to the visitors.

The break helped Southampton regroup and whilst their game plan of forming a maul at the earliest opportunity from anywhere on the pitch wasn’t necessarily one for the purists of the game it proved effective as they scored 12 unanswered points. Whilst the Islanders may have looked like throwing the game away again, spirited defence, along with tactical interchanges making an impact, enabled them to withstand Southampton pressure. Indeed the rush defence brought offensive benefits when the Rouse Ltd man-of-the-match Gary Warvill intercepted a pass to score a break away try from the halfway way, which Murray duly converted.

Whilst neither team could earn themselves a bonus point, the Islanders deservedly took the winning points and the fact that they prevented Southampton gaining a losing bonus point could be significant come the end of the season.

IW: Newnham, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Andy Brown, Ridley, Hatch, Curran. Evans, Murray, Wood, Taylor, Marsh, Warvill, Stirrup. Subs: Jennings, Angus Brown, D Tanner.

2nds v Lymington (A), Sat. 4 Jan. 2014

Date Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 4:31PM
Lymington Mariners 13 IW 2nds 11

On a day when few matches across Hampshire went ahead, the Island seconds opened 2014 with a narrow defeat on the club’s first ever visit to Lymington. The home side are to be credited on their splendid new pitch which coped with the recent inclement weather, and a gutsy display which earned them victory. Meanwhile, the IW showed similar heart but were disappointed to come out on the wrong end of the result.

Though the surface was as good as could be expected, it rained for much of the match and the wet ball limited what the teams could achieve. That said, throughout the 80 minutes the IW’s handling was not of the standard required to win the game – quality possession was at a premium and the IW did not always make the best use of it. On the other hand, Lymington made hay on their first visit to IW territory, scoring an unconverted try in the second minute. The IW soon settled, looking threatening in attack but being let down by the aforementioned errors. They did force two penalty opportunities, kicked by Lewis Murray for a 6-5 lead after the first quarter.

There was little to choose between the sides in the first half – the hosts edged territory but the IW competed well, as debutant Ricky Keyes impressed while Rouse Ltd man of the match Angus Brown delivered his customary busy performance. It was disappointing then for the visitors to concede just before halftime, though in a controversial manner. The IW themselves were unable to control their own lineout ball near the try line, but the players were adamant that the Lymington player had not grounded properly. Nevertheless, the try was awarded and the home side led 10-6 at the break.

Rotating the team on the resumption, the IW started with purpose and ran at the heart of the Lymington defence, which was forced to infringe to contain the rampant Islanders. From one such penalty, alert captain Colman Cotter tapped and sliced through the home rearguard, which was disorganised for the only time in the game, regaining the lead for the IW. Murray’s conversion drifted wide, but it now seemed likely that IW would kick on and secure victory.

Instead Lymington fought back, and their gameplan worked well in the conditions, as they kicked for territory and aimed to profit from IW errors. They also profited as the IW struggled desperately to come to terms with the referee’s interpretation of the laws, particularly at scrum, lineout and the tackle area. The visitors had to soak up a lot of pressure in this period, but did a good job until being penalised under their posts. Lymington opted for the points and regained the lead with 16 minutes remaining.

An exciting game drew to a close as the IW threw everything into attack, but were unable to string phases together due to a combination of determined defence, their own handling errors, and the referee’s whistle. They now were on top in the scrums as Toby Moffat made a major impact on his introduction, but the lineouts remained a lottery. Time ran out eventually and Lymington celebrated victory, while the IW could reflect on a performance of many positives, but ultimately not clinical enough to earn victory.

IW: Proud, E Wright, Ridley, Warvill, Mitchell, Murray, Cotter, Brine, Angus Brown, Newnham, Westley, Andy Brown, Keyes, Lock, Curran. Replacements: Moffat, Wallace, Hatch, Enticknap, Horton, Harley, Boulter.

1sts v Solent University (A), Sat. 14 Dec. 2013

Date Monday, December 30, 2013 at 5:11PM!
Solent University 55 Isle of Wight 29

IWRFC faced second-placed Solent University in blustery conditions at Test Park in the last league game before Christmas, and it was the visitors who gifted the well-drilled home time a flurry of first half points through a combination of poor tackling, bad luck and the ability of their opponents. Whilst Solent were the first to trouble the scorers, the Islanders replied early when a Lewis Murray dink over the defence finally paid off with a 7 pointer when the young outside half grounded his own kick and then converted. Other than a penalty there was little else to cheer for the Islanders in the first half, as Solent demonstrated why they are challenging for promotion by running in 41 points for a very bleak half time score.

The second half saw a turn around in fortunes for the visitors, although it didn’t start well with the influential number 8 Ed Lynch sustaining a broken hand. This necessitated a number of personnel and positional changes, and the embracing of a nothing to lose and everything to gain attitude, which resulted the in Islanders winning the second half. Rouse Ltd man of the match Brett Evans was at his elusive and aggressive best, scoring a fine solo try from his own 22 and being involved in much of the play. Winger Mike Wood also put in yet another impressive performance in his fledgling career.

With their tails up, the Islanders strove for the bonus point that four tries would bring. Following pressure in the Solent 22, a festive 12 man line-out was called with a Turkey Ball, and it resulted in a pushover try with Dan Taylor emerging from the bottom of the pile clutching the Turkey Ball. A fine series of rucks and pick and drives resulted in hooker Dan Tennant touching down for the Islander’s fourth and the game’s final try, giving the game a 55-29 scoreline. This secured a potentially significant bonus point and ensured that the Islanders went onto their Christmas Dinner in high spirits and looking forward to the rest of the season in bullish mood.

IWRFC: Newnham, Tennant, M Tanner, Boulter, Andy Brown, Ridley, Hatch, Lynch; Evans, Murray, Wood, Taylor, Marsh, Warvill, Stirrup. Subs: Angus Brown, Jennings, C Courtney.

2nds v Chineham (H), Sat. 14 Dec. 2013

Date Monday, December 30, 2013 at 12:51AM

IW 2nds 34 Chineham 2nds 0

The Island’s seconds finished off the first half of the season with one of their best performances of the season. With youth in evidence across the side, the Islanders moved the ball with intelligence and ambition, while showing strength and determination in defence.

Returning a Chineham kick, Reuben Mitchell released Keith Wallace to score. Looking to move the ball and maintain tempo, a quick tapped penalty released David Tanner and an offload to Kierhan Dry saw the second try. Chris Williams added the conversion.

Turning round with confidence Isle of Wight were soon back in scoring mood. Stewart Brine ripped the ball in contact and it was moved down the line with Chris Williams looping round to score.! Dave Tanner then plucked the ball from the opposition and released Wallace for his second, Williams adding the kick.

Changes to the side did not diminish the ambition, with Nick Puckett scoring.The Island were then pinned back for a ten minute spell, but tackle after tackle kept their line intact. The game was completed with Wallace completing his hat trick. Joe Greedy, on his senior debut, could not add the conversion, striking the post.

Team: S Brine, T Love, B Frost-Jones, T Moffat, M Westley, S Lock, K Dry, K Wallace, T Marriott, C Williams, R Mitchell, D Tanner, J Greedy, B Coysh, N Brading, N Puckett, G Pugh-Panther, J Wright, E Wright

2nds v Andover (H), Sat. 29 Mar. 2014
Date Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 10:51AM

IW II 14 Andover III 54

The IW 2nds emphatically lost their 100% home record at sunny Wootton Rec. Unfortunately for the IW, Andover’s first team did not have a fixture, so they fielded a much stronger team than the IW would normally have to face at this level and blew the home side away, especially in the second quarter.

Some more experienced players returned to action for the IW and early signs were encouraging, but they conceded first to Andover’s rampaging back rower who was difficult to tackle and made inroads throughout the game. The score remained 5-0 into the second quarter, but cracks were appearing and soon opened. The IW were not at their best, and Andover punished them ruthlessly, racking up a 29-0 lead by halftime.

Matters did not improve immediately on the restart, as Andover added three further tries to move out of sight. However, IW were showing their customary spirit and began to look dangerous when moving the ball wide. Replacement wing Rob Sice was almost in at the corner flag, before he was set free to score a great try on his debut. Within minutes the IW scored again – the returning Ali Gates had been steadfast in defence, but now showed his pace in attack to dummy his way over and ensure his Rouse Ltd man of the match award. Joe Greedy converted, and though Andover would score again before the end of the game, the hosts could take heart from a strong second half display.

IW: White, J Hatch, Mitchell, Peters, Gates, Greedy, Cotter, Metcalfe, Frost-Jones, Jennings, Simpson, A Puckett, Dry, Pugh-Panther, Westley. Replacements: J Wright, Sice, Courtney, Keyes, Manuel.

1sts v Fordingbridge (A), Sat. 1 Mar. 2014

Date Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:15PM

Fordingbridge 75 – IW 13

The IWRFC 1st XV squad travelled to Fordingbridge, knowing a tough game against the team second in the league was on the cards. The final score line reflected the gulf in class between the two teams, although for the first half of the game the Islanders more than held their own. Indeed, they had a 6-0 lead after five minutes thanks to the boot of Lewis Murray following Fordingbridge indiscretions in midfield. The majority of the early tussles were in the middle third of the pitch, and it was from here that Fordingbridge’s first points came from a penalty. But as Fordingbridge’s running game grew in confidence, their slick backs produced the handling and movement that enabled them to strike from just inside the Islander’s half to take an 8-6 lead. In a precursor to the second half this was also the basis for the ‘Bridge’s second try on 21 minutes, which this time was converted. On the half-hour the Rouse Ltd man-of-the-match fly half Chris Williams celebrated St David’s Day in style with an interception try, following a pressing defensive line on the Fordingbridge 10 metre line, which Murray converted. This meant that the Islander’s went into halftime 2 points down at 15-13.

The early momentum in the second half was entirely with the home side, following a couple of very early scores. The effort to maintain parity in the first half was taking its toll on the Islanders, as the scrum struggled and an increasing number of holes were being found in open play by the home team’s organised and probing attack. Whilst 60 unanswered second half points made unpleasant viewing from an Isle of Wight RFC perspective, the Islander’s endeavour and commitment were commended by Fordingbridge’s vociferous home supporters after the game.

IW: Newnham, Tennant, Jennings, And. Brown, A Puckett, Panther-Pugh, Rob Vaughan, Ridley, Evans, Williams, Wood, Murray, D Taylor, M Taylor, Rich Vaughan; Coates, N Puckett

2nds v Winchester Vets, Sat. 1 March 2014

Date Monday, March 3, 2014 at 10:00PM
Winchester Vets 14 IW II 22

The Isle of Wight 2nd XV claimed an emphatic first away win of the season against a significantly larger well drilled and experienced Winchester veterans side.

The Island stared brightly following their pre-game plan of moving the ball and the opposition around the park where possible. Following an early series of line breaks from Gary Warvill and Joe Greedy, the breakthrough came when George Lyle crashed over for an unconverted try in the corner following some good interplay between seasoned veterans Dave Metcalf and Mark Westley. The Island extended their lead shortly after with a well taken penalty by centre Harry Dye.

With an 8-0 lead the IW let Winchester back into the game and the home side was able to take advantage of their weight advantage in lineout mauls and devastating scrummaging. The Island front row of Metcalfe, Love and Brine struggled to cope with the goliath Winchester front row throughout the game and to their credit held firm, until finally Winchester were able to get a push over try just before the half time whistle bringing the score to 8-7 at the break.

The Island started the second half like the first, as excellent lineout work from debutant Ryan Tulloch allowed the Island to make great inroads into the Winchester half. Following some great attacking phases by the Island’s half back combination of Greedy and Warvill, the ever impressive Reuben Mitchell was able to break tackles to stretch for the line scoring under the posts. Dye converted to give the Island a 15-7 lead.

The Island continued their pressure on Winchester and scything runs from the trio of Nigel Harley, Lyle and debutant Isaac Lee once again kept Winchester on the back foot. Tireless work by the makeshift backrow of debutant Brad Taylor, Mitchell and Colman Cotter ensured the Island retained possession. A line break by Nigel Harley found the Island close to the Winchester line when 53 year old veteran and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dave Metcalfe popped up on Harley’s shoulder to break through the Winchester defence to score a try under the posts which was celebrated by the entire Island side. Again Dye made no mistake in converting the extras.

With a 22-7 lead the Island where under no illusion that Winchester were a spent force. Following a number of Winchester substitutions the home side staged a number of attacks, but the Island defence held firm thanks to some outstanding tackling by the immovable centre partnership of Dye and Steve Johnston. The Island’s defence frustrated the Winchester attack that resorted to their initial game plan of rolling mauls and attacking the fringes at the break down. Eventually a seemingly harsh decision by the referee gave Winchester a penalty try for a high tackle, bringing the score to 22-14. This gave Winchester a glimmer of hope and again the home side went on the offensive but they were continually denied by a stubborn Island team defensive effort.

For the final quarter a frustrated Winchester began to give away penalties allowing the Island to clear their lines. A yellow card to one of the Winchester side finally took the wind out of their sails and the Island half back pairing of Greedy and Warvill ensured no last minute dramas by controlling the play and ensuring good field position to close out the game for a well earned 22-14 Island victory. This consolidates the IW’s fourth place in the Merit table.

IW: Harley, Lyle, Dye, Johnston, Lee, Greedy, Warvill, Brine, Love, Metcalfe, Tulloch, Westley, B Taylor, Mitchell, Cotter.

1sts v Farnborough (H), Sat. 22 Feb.

Date Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 10:19PM
IW 24 Farnborough 36

A bonus point defeat was the lot of the Isle of Wight at Wootton Rec in a Hampshire One match rescheduled from the previous weekend. Given that the IW had no fewer than eleven regular first team squad members unavailable for various reasons (including virtually their entire first choice backline), the outcome was perhaps not a bad one for the hosts, though better defending at times could have yielded an even better return.

In spite of the crippling list of unavailability, those who were promoted to the first team for this game performed very well. The IW were backed by the wind in the first half and began on the offensive. Veteran Paul Simpson had been pressed into service for his first game in four years, but it was his strong run which set up a ruck close to the Farnborough line, from which captain Ollie Boulter crashed over for the opening score.

Farnborough themselves played well and posed a number of running threats to the IW, soon cancelling out the opening score with a try of their own, converted. A break from debutant Matt Taylor threatened a second try for the home side but he was reeled in by a covering defender, before the visitors exploited sub-standard IW tackling to touch down their second try. This gave them a 12-5 lead at the short whistle.

Matters looked ominous for the IW – they now faced the breeze and had lost impressive flanker Angus Brown to injury, while after a good start they were now under pressure in the scrums. However, they had shown signs that more tries were in the offing, though keeping the opposition out would be a challenge. This would be how the second half panned out.

The IW were back on the scoreboard within two minutes of the restart, as Taylor made an encouraging dent in the enemy line before Brett Evans scorched clear with a trademark break from halfway, narrowing the gap to two points. Farnborough’s response to this was impressive, playing their best rugby of the game which the hosts could not cope with, and scoring three tries in a 15 minutes spell to take a 29-10 lead.

It appeared as if the makeshift IW might fold, as a further injury forced them to use forward replacement Charles Courtney on the wing. Nevertheless, the IW showed great heart in the final quarter, typified by debutant Rob Vaughan and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dan Tennant. They tested Farnborough with a mixture of tight and open attacks, before fullback Rich Vaughan scored a marvellous solo try from inside his own half.

Now the IW were within one more try of two bonus points, but this possibility was immediately damaged as Farnborough constructed a good score to put the game beyond reach. A fourth try would secure a bonus for the hosts, and they finished the game on the attack in search of it. Their reward came with two minutes left on the clock, after a series of forward drives led to penalties in opposition territory. When the ball was moved wide, Chris Williams threw a delightful dummy and was able to touch down. Joe Greedy converted the latter two tries, but time ran out on the IW’s hopes of a second bonus point.

IW: Rich Vaughan, Coates, Greedy, D Tanner, M Taylor, Williams, B Evans, Newnham, Tennant, Jennings, Simpson, Harrison, Angus Brown, Rob Vaughan, Boulter. Replacements: Cotter, M Tanner, Courtney.

2nds v Romsey (H), 25 Jan. 2014

Date Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 7:09PM
IW II 17 Romsey II 14

The Isle of Wight second team’s 100% home record remained intact in a closely contested Merit league clash at Wootton Rec, which moves them into second place due to Portsmouth Vets’ postponement.

Romsey travelled with twelve players, so the IW loaned them two players and played 14-a-side, in order to ensure a competitive fixture. Loanees Damion Greenough and Isaac Lee both impressed for the visitors.

The IW had the diagonal breeze in their favour in the first half, and did have the bulk of territory for that period. However, they met a resolute Romsey team who contained them well and profited from IW errors. The home side struggled to put continuity and phases together, which Romsey punished early on. Their big centre broke a series of weak IW tackles before the ball was moved to the wing for a fine Romsey try, against the run of play, but a wake-up call for the IW.

A determined IW fought back and resumed their territorial dominance, and getting back on level terms after 25 minutes. Fly-half Neil Brading found a gap out wide and parted to supporting flanker Reuben Mitchell who sped over. Joe Greedy landed the difficult conversion in style to make the score 7-7. Yet the IW could not add further points with the wind at their back and so it remained at the break.

The IW went out for the second half with the intention of upping the pace of the game and exploiting their advantages of youth and mobility. They mostly achieved this, which was arguably the winning of the game. Though under pressure in the scrums and with the lineouts something of a lottery due to the breeze, the IW secured enough clean ball to move the Romsey pack around and attack space. Replacement Will Peters also had a major impact, breaking tackles and offloading in a timely fashion. One such backline move gave the IW the lead early in the half as Greedy was sent over wide for an unconverted try and a 12-7 advantage.

Now looking dangerous every time they moved the ball, the IW played good rugby. Brandon Frost- Jones and debutant Matt Taylor carried well, but Rouse Ltd man of the match Mitchell was the pick of the bunch. However, Romsey pinned the IW back well when they got the chance, so the IW’s third and final try was again a long-range affair and very similar to their second, as Peters passed to Greedy who broke a tackle to score his second try.

Romsey hit back shortly afterwards, taking advantage of IW indecision to score under the posts and narrow the gap to three points. It made for a nervous finale, and Romsey had a long distance penalty chance which could have yielded a draw, but was pushed wide. The IW defended well towards the end and deserved their victory, even if their performance was not one of their best.

IW: Harley, Lyle, Greedy, Puckett, Brading, Cotter ©, Metcalfe, Love, Moffat, J Wright, Keyes, Frost-Jones, Mitchell, Harrison, Freeman, Peters, Taylor, Coates, Lee, Greenough.

2nds v Farnborough (H), Sat. 26 Apr. 2014

Date Monday, April 28, 2014 at 10:10PM

IW II 38 Farnborough II 10

In a league game rearranged at short notice, the Isle of Wight seconds finished their season with an emphatic victory at Wootton Rec. They gained double points for the win, as the game served as a double header to replace both postponed games from earlier in the season between the teams.! For the second game in a row, the IW were faced by a team well short of the full complement, but loaned players so that the match would be played with equal numbers. Isaac Lee, Tom Marriott, Ricky Keyes and Gyles Pugh-Panther played stints for the opposition and all impressed – indeed, the latter two registered both Farnborough’s tries.

The IW got off to a great start, as James Horton continued his recent good form by opening the scoring after a good team move. They were guilty of some over-elaboration and poor handling at times, but Joe Greedy added a second try before debutant George Huish jinked through and touched down. Farnborough did have their moments and Pugh-Panther opened their account, but the IW finished the half on top as Rouse Ltd man of the match Horton scored his second. Greedy kicked three conversions and the IW led 26-5 at the break.

A strong breeze now favoured Farnborough, and they spent much of the third quarter in IW territory, though with only one try by Keyes for their efforts. The impressive Reuben Mitchell then intercepted for a long range score, before flying wing Rob Sice kept up his scoring streak with a great try from distance. A further Greedy conversion set the seal on the IW’s victory which secured them fourth place in the league, albeit only five points off league winners Portsmouth Vets.

IW: Horton, Sice, Gates, Huish, Greedy, Wilson, Moffat, Mitchell, Freeman, Westley, Cotter, Lee, Harley, Keyes, Pugh-Panther, Marriott.

2nds v Southsea Nomads (A), Sat. 12 Apr. 2014

Date Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 10:29AM

Southsea Nomads II 12 IW II 73

An emphatic victory at Portsmouth University concluded the IW second team’s season on a resoundingly positive note. In excellent conditions, the IW delivered a fine display of 15 man rugby that their opposition could not match.
The home team only had 11 players to call on, so the IW lent them three players so that the match could be played 14 a side. These players were rotated at halftime, and a late arrival for Nomads allowed the second half to be played at 15 a side. Stewart Brine, Ricky Keyes, Ryan Tulloch, Martin Tanner and Toby Moffat all played a half for the home team and all distinguished themselves regardless of the shirt on their back.

It was a sloppy beginning for the IW, as they were a little ambitious in their handling and struggled to achieve continuity. However, the opening try arrived after 14 minutes and was scored by Keith Wallace, operating at centre and profiting from some strong driving forward play. Thereafter, the floodgates opened somewhat as the IW played textbook rugby, sucking in defenders before moving the ball wide and showing plenty of pace and skill in the outside channels. Wallace added a second, while the returning James Horton added a brace. Steve Johnston and Rob Sice were also on the scoresheet in the first half, while Joe Greedy added four conversions. Nomads did show spirit and managed the final score of the half, but they trailed 38-7 at halftime.

The second half started in similar vein to the first, as the IW scored within a couple of minutes through veteran Will Peters. However, Nomads were fighting hard and the third quarter was closely fought. The IW were only able to score once more before the three-quarter mark, as Colman Cotter burrowed over in his final game as captain.

As the home side tired, so the IW upped the ante again and would score three more tries in the final quarter. Rouse Ltd man of the match Sice added his second try when showing exceptional pace to follow up a Cotter kick, while Mark Westley and Stewart Brine also touched down. Greedy converted all five second half tries for a personal tally of nine conversions. Nomads never threw in the towel and again scored the final try of the half and game in the last minute, to end an entertaining match.

IW: Horton, Johnston, Wallace, Peters, Greedy, Cotter ©, M Tanner, Love, Jennings, Simpson, Moffat, Mitchell, Lock, Westley, Brine, Keyes, Tulloch, Sice, Leahy.

1sts v Overton (H), Sat. 5 Apr. 2014

Date Friday, April 11, 2014 at 9:44AM

IW 30 Overton 12

The Island battled out a bonus point win with the last play of the game to move them fourth from the bottom of Hampshire One with one week of league games left.A stubborn and resilient Overton, despite already being relegated, were not going to roll over and dominated the scrum set pieces with their large pack.

Early Island pressure allowed Lewis Murray to slot a penalty. Further pressure chasing an Island kick led to ball being recycled and Brett Evans was able to cross the try line. Murray added the conversion.

Overton’s closer ball carrying brought them a scrum some 5 metres out and the visiting number 8 crashed over. Murray replied with a 40 metre penalty and followed this with a cross field kick for Richard Vaughan to gather and score.

The Island upped the tempo of their play at the start of the second half; a quick tapped penalty was moved wide for Evans to score his second try of the match. Overton then pressured the home line and despite stout defence for several minutes, the visitors finally broke the line to score.

With time running out Isle of Wight pushed for the bonus try but were thwarted by strong defence and rushed opportunities. With the time up, one last effort of recycling and carries saw Dan Taylor crash over and with the conversion came the final whistle. Rouse Ltd man of the match was Angus Brown.

Team: B Evans, W Marsh, B Ridley, D Taylor, Rich Vaughan, L Murray, N Brading, M Newnham, Angus Brown, D Tennant, Andrew Brown, O Boulter, T Hatch, Rob Vaughan, E Lynch, M Tanner, A Hay, E Scotcher.

2nds v Basingstoke (A), 5 Apr. 2014

Date Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 12:00AM
Basingstoke V 39 IW II 5

A scratch IW second team were eventually well beaten at Basingstoke, though not before giving a very strong home squad a good game of it. For the second week running, the fixture list and fate dictated that the IW would have to play against a team who could call upon several players from the higher echelons of their club, in this case Basingstoke 2nds and 3rds.

Playing with the slight slope and wind advantage in the opening 40 minutes, the IW conceded a try inside 5 minutes and it looked likely to be a long afternoon. However, they then proceeded to dominate the rest of the half territorially, and the biggest criticism of the Islanders would be the failure to convert this ascendancy into more points. They scrummaged well, and though the lineout misfired at times, the IW created a few promising chances. A try did come shortly before halftime, and the forward pack could take the credit, especially the back row. The hosts’ scrum ball was disrupted, and Sam Lock was able to fasten on a loose ball – Keith Wallace provided the link and Mark Westley was on hand to cross for a fine try. Basingstoke led 7-5 at halftime.

The IW retained hope going into the second half, but it was always going to be difficult against the conditions and with no substitutes to bring on. In contrast, the hosts brought on a host of replacements to put the game to bed, including a number 8 who registered a hat-trick in his 30 minutes on the pitch. Basingstoke began to dominate the scrums against the tiring Islanders, and this helped them to control territory in this period. They stretched to a 19-5 lead at the three-quarter mark.

Breaking out of their own half, the IW had one last chance to keep the game alive. They drove up to the opposition line, and Toby Moffat appeared to have grounded the ball on the line but the referee decided that he had been stopped short. Basingstoke cleared, and the IW would scarcely leave their own half for the rest of the match. Joe Greedy continued to kick well, Dave Tanner tackled ferociously and Wallace and Rouse Ltd man of the match Lock played on through injury, but the hosts worked some good tries to seal a deserved victory, if by a very flattering margin.! !

IW: Leahy, Sice, Johnston, D Tanner, Lee, Greedy, Cotter ©, Brine, Love, Jennings, Moffat, Keyes, Wallace, Lock, Westley.

1sts v Locksheath Pumas (A, Hampshire Plate q-final), 29 Mar. 2014

DateMonday, April 7, 2014 at 11:38PM
Locksheath Pumas 16 IW 32

IW put their relegation battle to one side to secure a hard-fought, but ultimately well-deserved, victory over a direct Locksheath Pumas team in this Gales HSB Hampshire Plate quarter final.

With the home team looking to keep it tight, punch holes and offload and IW looking to put whatever width on the ball a narrow pitch allowed, it was a game of contrasting styles.

It was the visitors who made the early running and took a 6-0 lead through two Lewis Murray penalties. The hosts, possibly taken aback by the IW’s start took a while to find their game. They soon did and crossed the line for their only try of the game, which was converted for a one point lead. This lead was extended further by a straight forward penalty goal from in front of the posts to take the score to 10-6, which it remained until half time despite the Islanders playing 10 minutes with 14 men following a harsh yellow card for James Curran.

The half time break allowed the Islanders to regain their composure, and once again with a full complement of players it was they who scored the first points of the second half through a well taken try from Brett Evans to re-take the lead 11-10.

The game, and the scoreboard, swung back in favour of the Hampshire 2 team, as IW indiscretions close to their posts were punished with the Pumas scoring two easy penalties.

The momentum of the game decisively shifted though, as the game drew close to its final quarter, when the Island winger Mike Wood came off the bench to score a superb try, beating his man with an excellent finish to record his first try for the 1st XV and in doing so levelling the scores.

The IW’s superior fitness then came to the fore to break the stalemate and allow them to score 16 unanswered points. First was a drop-goal from Murray, following a long period of pressure in the Pumas 22, before a further Murray penalty. Evans then scored his second try of the game, having returned to his more familiar scrumhalf role from fullback. The scoring was completed by Murray, to take his personal tally to 17 points.

The Rouse Ltd man of the match award went to Andrew Brown, following another strong performance from the second row.

IW: Newnham, Ang. Brown, Tennant, And. Brown, Boulter, Curran, Hatch, Lynch; Brading, Williams, M Taylor, Murray, D Tanner, Rich Vaughan, B Evans. Subs: Rob Vaughan, M Tanner, Wood, Warvill.

1sts v Alton (H), Sat. 15 Sep.
Date Monday, September 17, 2012 at 9:52PM
IWRFC 1st 16 Alton 22

A rousing start to the season saw the visit of relegated Alton to the Island on a hot sunny afternoon. The game followed the return of club members Colman Cotter and Lou Carrington as the finished their 800 mile Big Bike Hike from John O Groats to the Island in aid of Layla’s Trust.

Early Island pressure set up a drop goal for Gary Warvill, but this was soon cancelled out as Alton broke out and scored a converted try.

The Island strong running backs then set up ground for the forwards to squeeze a penalty out of the visitors. Warvill converting.

The home sides scrum, dominant for much of the game, continually dominated the set piece, but Alton broke out and added a penalty. On the stroke of half time fullback Dan Stirrup stepped his way over for a try, with the Island taking a one point lead in to the second half.

The game followed much the same pattern as the first half, with the Island winning scrum ball and Alton looking to move their possession wide. A quick tap penalty by captain Brett Evans stretched the home side’s lead to six points. Alton were determined that their trip was not to fade out, broke away and scored an unconverted try.

From now, the last ten minutes were desperate from both sides, as the Island fought to maintain their one point lead and the visitors scrabbled for the win.

Fortune was not with the home side, as, with the last move of the game Alton forced their way over under the posts.

Rouse Intelligent Financial Planning Man of the Match went to second row Dan Hodgson on his first team debut, but all players worked tirelessly and promise much for the season.

U17s Cup – Portsmouth v Vectis

Date Monday, September 17, 2012 at 9:50PM
Portsmouth U17 27 Vectis U17 31

A stunning, determined and disciplined performance from Vectis U17s in this Hampshire cup game, saw them deserved winners over their hosts on the mainland.

Taking a little time to settle, Vectis found themselves a try down early on. However a quickly recycled ball from a scrum was fed to Rob Vaughan to score under the posts. Joe Jackson, immaculate with his place kicking all day, added the conversion. Vectis pressure on the home sides line was finally rewarded with Keith wallace grounding. Jackson adding the kick.

Now in full flight, quick hands down the three quarters released Tom Turtle to outstrip the defence with Jackson again on target.

The second half started much as the first had finished. Vaughan launched a ball high, chased and hacked on the bounce, picked up and scored.

Now the pace of the game started to tell as Portsmouth emptied their bench in an effort to get back on level terms. Two home side tries followed and with some five minutes remaining a third score brought them within one point. But the Island youngsters were not to give way as a determined drive set up a penalty for Jackson.!

The last three minutes were frantic as bodies were committed to the cause from both sides. With the final whistle going, Vectis were ecstatic with their win.!

Vectis U17: B Hunt, R Mitchell, K Wallace, J Biss, A Brown, S Cant, M Church, T Moffat, C Sorayapour, Rob Vaughan, Rich Vaughan, J Wagen, D O’Flynn, J Jackson, K Reynard, T Turtle, J Wilson.

2nds v Market House Pirates, Sat. 15 Sep 2012

Date Sunday, September 16, 2012 at 3:41PM
IW II 14 Market House Pirates 31

Hampshire’s newest club enjoyed victory in their first ever competitive game, at the expense of the Island seconds at Wootton Rec. Though the Island played well in the first half and enjoyed a nine- point lead at one stage, the newly-formed Pirates were in control in the second half and were deserving winners.

In their previous incarnation at Fareham Heathens, the Market House Pirates had won the Merit Three title last season, so the IW were under no illusions as to the task facing them but were nonetheless optimistic. This was punctured inside the opening ten minutes, as they conceded a relatively soft try from a set scrum.

Prompted by Rouse Ltd. man of the match Colman Cotter, who courageously played for 30 minutes immediately after completing the Layla’s Trust Bike Hike from John O’Groats, the Islanders hit back. Cotter’s long pass found Will Peters, whose pass allowed wing Ali Gates to scorch clear from well inside his own half. Kieran Leahy converted for a 7-5 lead.

The lead should have been stretched soon afterwards, as good driving play from the IW pack gave Gates the space to cross the whitewash, but he was unable to ground the ball due to a miraculous cover tackle from a Pirates player. However, the winger did score his second soon afterwards, and Leahy’s extras made the score 14-5.

Pirates now began to force the pace, thanks to a wide array of big, strong runners. Though the IW defended well for the greater part of the game, any lapses in tackling or communication were generally punished. Pirates scored once to narrow the gap, before adding a crucial seven-pointer with the last play of the half to lead 17-14.

The third quarter effectively decided the game, as Pirates dominated both scrum and lineout, denying the IW possession. They registered a converted try to stretch their advantage, but were denied continuity time and again by sterling Island work at the breakdown, led by Mark Westley and impressive back-row debutant Keith Wallace. Still, the IW themselves were unable to string many phases together as the game grew scrappy. They were led throughout by example by stalwart Kevin Scovell, playing his last game before emigration and captaining the team.

While they remained within ten points, the IW were well in the game and they began to gain a foothold, as replacement scrum-half Tom Hatch and centre Charlie Crane showed up particularly well. However, the visitors’ defence was not found wanting, and it was they who scored the final try of the match, setting up an arguably flattering winning margin. The IW will take heart from some encouraging play against a side which is likely to challenge for title honours again this season.

IW: Leahy, Coates, Gilpin, Carter, Gates, Peters, Cotter, Brine, Love, Scovell, Westley, Harrison, Wallace, Joyce, Lock. Replacements: Hatch, Mitchell, Harley, Crane, Leitch, Church, Lilly.

1sts v New Milton (H), Sat. 20 Oct. 2012

Date Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 5:15PM

IW 17 New Milton & District 22

In the latest IW home league game, the pattern of the season so far continued, as the Island gave high-flying opposition a testing time but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard. Though New Milton top the league table, they sustained a battering from the home side for much of the game, but were much more ruthless and economical when they had the ascendancy. Ultimately, New Milton came by their scores much more easily than the IW, and their determined defence also contributed hugely.

It was the visitors who started better, threatening the Island line a couple of times before their centre picked a good line to score under the posts after 20 minutes. The IW hit back with a long spell of persistent pressure, dominating scrum and lineout but getting little change out of the visiting defence. All they had to show for their efforts was a missed Dan Taylor penalty and a series of five-metre scrums, which came to nought. At halftime, New Milton led 7-0.

On the restart, New Milton scored first with a penalty goal, though this was soon cancelled out by Gary Warvill with a like score. The IW forwards continued to control matters, as Rouse Ltd men of the match Tom Hatch and Dan Hodgson were prominent. On a number of occasions a try seemed inevitable, but poor options and handling let the Island down.

As is often the case in these situations, when the visitors lifted the siege they were boosted, and a breakout from their own half led to a superb try. From the restart, the IW gave the ball away ill- advisedly, and New Milton ran it back for what seemed to be the clinching seven-pointed, as they now led 22-3.

Back came the Island, prompted by Neil Brading and Adam Thomas. After more pressure in the New Milton 22, Nick Puckett generated the momentum to crash over for a try, converted by Warvill to give the Island hope.

Then came an early contender for try of the season, with eight minutes to go. Warvill fielded a kick outside his own 22 and stepped two would-be tacklers, before feeding Hodgson. The big second- row broke the line and made huge inroads upfield, before offloading to the supporting Hatch who sent Dan Stirrup in for a marvellous score. Warvill landed the kick and suddenly the Island were within five points.

In the remaining minutes, the New Milton defence was again in evidence, as the Island tried to run everything but struggled to get out of their own half. Eventually time expired on an exciting match, and the IW were once again left with just a bonus point as their reward. They have had a very difficult fixture list to start the season, and will be confident that their encouraging performance levels suggest that victories are just around the corner.

IW: Stirrup, Williams, Evans, N Puckett, Coates, Taylor, Brading, Puzey, Newnham, Boulter, Hodgson, Thomas, Tombleson, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Warvill, McAdam, Jennings.

2nds v Ventnor (A), Sat. 6 Oct. 2012

Date Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 2:06PM
Ventnor II 46 IW II 20

After two recent victories, the seconds were brought down to earth by their local rivals at the old Ventnor Middle School pitch in an entertaining tussle.

Both teams had a lengthy wait to gain access to the changing rooms in the bowels of the building site that is soon to become a spanking new primary school, so warmups were curtailed. It also concerned the IW that, once again, Ventnor had several players from Sandown & Shanklin 2nds starting, whose game had been cancelled. The presence of many able ringers from a couple of leagues above Merit Three was always likely to make it difficult for the visitors, and so it proved.

In spite of this, the Island began well, forcing a penalty straight from the kickoff which Gary Warvill kicked for an immediate lead. This was shortly cancelled out in kind by Riches. Then came the hosts’ first try, as the line was broken and desperate cover tackles by debutant Ali Gates were fruitless. Instead, the former’s head made solid contact with the latter’s nose, resulting in spouting of blood, a broken hooter and an even more deformed Gates. In a reshuffle, Nige Harley went to fullback, though he would later sustain a bang to the head and be also replaced. The IW’s own Sandown ringer, Martin Keyworth, came in at centre and performed well.

The first half belonged to the home side. They had slope and wind advantage, regularly turned the ball over at the breakdown, and dominated the scrums. In retort, the IW controlled the lineout, as Nick Joyce again snaffled ball after ball. The IW spent long periods of the first half-hour on their own line, and though defence was heroic at first, some soft tries (along with some impressive ones) were eventually conceded. Ventnor no. 8 Guy Entwistle, usually of London Irish Academy but returning from injury, was influential, as was Sandown fly-half Cooper. Though the IW finished the half looking more threatening, they trailed 34-3 at the break.

While Gates continued to stem the bleeding from his conk with the help of the manager’s expensive T-shirt, the manager tried to stem the bleeding on the pitch with some tactical and personnel switches. Ian Rock was seeing stars, while Dave Sweatcalfe was suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Also, the IW now had slope advantage and would play some superb rugby in this half, albeit too late. Rouse Ltd man of the match Paul Carter switched to hooker and put in a fine shift, while replacements Jack Preston and Ben Ridley ran at the heart of the home defence and produced some sublime offloads. Captain Cotter probed and dictated, while prop Chris Clements was a willing ball carrier.

The host defence was strong at first, but the IW persevered and were rewarded with two tries in the first 15 minutes of the half, one by Warvill and one by replacement James Curran, also on the road back from injury. Warvill converted the first of these. The IW were now within sniffing distance of their opposition, but crucially conceded a soft try to effectively put the contest to bed.

Still the IW responded, taking the game to Ventnor and scoring three more tries. Unfortunately, only one of these would actually count on the scoreboard. Ridley finished a flowing move by grounding the ball over the line, only for the referee to adjudge a double movement and penalise the youngster. Another replacement, Ali Downer, then crashed over, but the unsighted referee failed to award the try. Preston did score the Island’s third touchdown after a super break by Ridley. However, it was the home side who had the final say, scoring a good try after a period of pressure on the IW line.

It was then, a game of two halves for the IW, who will know that they cannot afford to give teams such a start if they are to be near the top end of the Merit table this season. They look forward to the return fixture against Ventnor in January, but more immediately to their next game at Romsey on 27 October.

IW: Gates, Collinson, Harley, Carter, Rock, Warvill, Cotter, Brine, Metcalfe, Clements, Church, Joyce, Wallace, Westley. Replacements: Keyworth, Curran, Preston, Tibbott, Mitchell, Ridley, Downer.

2nds v Andover 3rds, Sat. 29 Sep.

Date Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 7:33PM

IW II 72 Andover III 12A strong all-round performance led to an emphatic win for the Island seconds at Wootton Rec.Andover travelled understrength but four Island players generously played for them to even up the sides. Though the opening five minutes were closely contested and even saw Andover dominate possession, once the Island got started it was one-way traffic. The floodgates opened from turnover ball, as impressive colt Keith Wallace raced clear from halfway. Returning wing Ian Rock was soon in for the first of his four tries, before captain Colman Cotter then sniped over for an opportunist score.The foundations for Island success were based on the forward pack’s work at the lineout and tackle area, both of which they dominated. Youngster Tom Hatch had a fine game, while Rouse Ltd man of the match Nick Joyce turned in another excellent shift. In turn the backline showed secure handling and no little pace to rack up the scores. Rock scored his second before Josh Collinson on the other wing showed effective soccer skills to dribble through a loose ball for the Island’s fifth try. Andover then scored through a defensive lapse, but Rock managed two more tries before the break. Cotter added three conversions for a 41-7 halftime lead.Andover were more competitive for a while on the restart, answering Collinson’s second try with one of their own and enjoying some more territory. However, they were soon overpowered by some terrific fifteen-man rugby by the hosts. Tom Love was on the end of the Island’s best move to score, and Cotter converted. An Ali Gates break was then supported by Nigel Harley who touched down, and added the extras himself. Replacement Jack Preston made a good impression on his introduction and scored, before Reuben Mitchell put the seal on the performance with the IW’s twelfth and last try, converted by Harley.

IW: Gates, Collinson, Gilpin, Crane, Rock, Harley, Cotter, D Tanner, Love, M Tanner, Westley, Harrison, Joyce, Hatch, Wallace. Replacements: Jennings, Frost-Jones, Merry, Leitch, Brine, Preston, Carter, Mitchell.!

1sts v Millbrook (A), Sat. 22 Sep. 2012

Date Monday, September 24, 2012 at 9:33PM
Millbrook 42 IWRFC 22

Always a tough ground to get a result, the task was made even harder as the Island conceded three tries in the first twelve minutes. Add to this the 100 % kicking record of the Milbrook 10, and this becomes almost impossible.

It was the Island that started off playing the attacking rugby, but turnover ball at vital times allowed Milbrook to pounce and take a 21 to 0 lead.

The difference between the two sides came down to execution of basics at important times, and despite the willingness to run the ball, the Island had a lesson in patience.

A 4 man line allowed the ball to be recycled and Dan Hodgson crashed over. Further movement of the ball released Tom Gelling to touch down, bringing the Island back in to the game.

However Millbrooks pacy 13 created space to put his winger away, leaving the home side 28 to 10 up at half time.

Despite the Island’s continued efforts to run the ball, some predictable play allowed the home side to defend and break out. Again taking opportunities from Island turnover ball, Millbrook added two further tries.

With only bonus points to chase, the Island had their best passage of the game. A break by Nick Puckett released captain Brett Evans to raise in from 40 metres. This was followed by a stunning run from Adam Leal, as he outpaced the defence from deep in his own half, scoring to gain the try bonus point. an Taylor added the kick.

Rouse Intelligent Financial Solutions Man of the Match went to back row Ed Lynch for his outstanding contribution to the cause.

IWRFC: M Newnham, N Tombleson, O Boulter, A Thomas, D Hodgson, E Lynch, A Leal, A Hay, B Evans, D Taylor, T Gelling, N Puckett, R McAdam, C Williams, D Stirrup, D Tanner, N Brading, N Harrison.

2nds v Fawley (A), Sat. 22 Sep 2012

Date Monday, September 24, 2012 at 3:11PM
Fawley II 24 IW II 37

After their opening day league defeat, the Island seconds opened their Merit table account with victory at Fawley. The game was played in excellent spirit, typified by the IW’s lending of players to the short-handed hosts to ensure a competitive encounter.

The Island had a dream first quarter, attacking from the off and putting the Fawley defence to the pin of its collar. After a couple of near misses, they scored a textbook try as the ball went through the backline’s hands for wing Tim Coates to touch down. Leahy added the extra points. A second try followed soon afterwards, as a nifty backline move involving captain Colman Cotter and Andy White allowed the latter to crash over. The IW scored again before 15 minutes had elapsed, manufacturing a try for debut no.8 Chris Clements. Fawley did take advantage of an IW lapse on the 20 minute mark, as one of their Fijian players scored a fine individual try.

The scoring rate now slowed as Fawley grew into the game, and the Island’s hitherto secure handling and offloading gave way to errors and miscommunication. The visitors still had the better of the game, but were undone in the leadup to halftime. Just as it seemed that Coates was about to score again, Fawley effected a turnover deep in their own 22, ran the ball back, and engineered space for IW loanee Eric Wright to speed in and score in the corner. This left the IW lead at a meagre five points at the break, at 17-12.

In the third quarter, the IW continued to dominate at scrum and lineout – Nick Joyce commanded out of touch, while Dean Jennings was influential on his return from long-term injury. Clements scored his second, but Fawley responded almost immediately, courtesy of Coates who was now playing a stint for the opposition. Injuries now also mounted, and the IW lost White and Martin Tanner in this spell.!
Replacement James Horton made a telling contribution in the second half, scoring the Island’s next try, though this was again cancelled out by Fawley’s Fijian replacement. The conversion of this latest try made the score 27-24 and set Island nerves on edge. However, they would now return to their form of the opening period when it mattered most. A perfectly weighted chip through by Nigel Harley was fastened onto by Horton for a crucial score, his second, before Rouse Ltd man of the match Clements fittingly had the last word by completing his hat-trick after a long siege on the Fawley line.

IW: Leahy, E Wright, Enticknap, White, Coates, Harley, Cotter, New, Love, M Tanner, A Puckett, Westley, Frost-Jones, Joyce, Clements. Replacements: Lilly, Jennings, Horton, Merry, Hennessy.

2nds v Lymington Mariners (H), Sat. 17 Nov. 2012

Date Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 4:46PM

IW II 12 Lymington Mariners II 20

In a closely contested first ever match between these two clubs at Wootton Rec, the spoils went to the visitors, who deserved their victory even if the Island will look back on some missed opportunities.!

Lymington have made a strong impression at first and second team level since their club’s formation three years ago, and certainly began meaning business in this encounter. Fielding a side full of pace and power, they dominated the first 15 minutes and attacked in waves, putting the IW under pressure and scoring two good tries out wide.

Though shell-shocked by the oppositions’ whirlwind opening, the IW began to compete well at the lineout and breakdown, and successfully spoiled Lymington’s momentum if not creating much themselves. Yet when this period ended with Lymington scoring a breakaway try to lead by 15 points, it seemed that the IW were in real trouble.

As time ran out in the first half, the IW finally threatened the visitors, winning penalties and kicking for territory. Forcing a scrum five metres out, the IW turned the ball over to Lymington but the attempted clearance kick ricocheted off two forwards. The loose ball was snapped up by Josh Collinson who broke through a tackle to touch down. Kieran Leahy converted and the scoreline looked better for the IW at 15-7 at the break.

The second half went much more the home side’s way, as they had more territory and began to look dangerous. Andy Brown and Rouse Ltd man of the match Ben Ridley shored up the centre against Lymington’s big runners, while Dave Church and captain Mark Westley led the pack by example. Leahy pulled a penalty effort wide and Nick Joyce was close to a try, before Brown barged over in the right corner to put the IW within three points entering the last quarter.

Sensing victory, the Island went for the jugular but found little space to exploit. The sinbinning of Church for dissent after 66 minutes also disrupted them, and Lymington finished the game in the Island half, scoring the clinching try with two minutes remaining.

IW: Mitchell, Leitch, Ridley, Andy Brown, Merry, Collinson, Leahy, Brine, Love, Metcalfe, D Church, Harrison, Wallace, Joyce, Westley. Replacements: Murray, M Church.

2nds v Southsea Nomads (H), Sat. 10 Nov. 2012

Date Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 10:57PM
IW II 17 Southsea Nomads II 10

In a game where the standard of play belied the teams’ league positions, the Island seconds needed their best performance of the season so far to defeat a strong Southsea Nomads side.

The Island were under pressure early on, spending much of the opening quarter in their own 22 but defending as if their lives depended on it. Once the siege was lifted, the team took heart and embarked on some sublime driving and offloading play, which culminated with Angus Brown parting to Reuben Mitchell who crashed through his opposite number to score after 22 minutes.

A 15 minute period of exceptional rugby followed from the hosts. The forward pack exerted their will over the Nomads, and though all played their part, the continuity play of Ross McAdam, Neil Harrison and Mark Westley stood out. When captain Colman Cotter took a quick penalty ten metres out from the Nomads line, centre Andy Brown crashed over for the second try.

The IW soon added to their lead as Dave Tanner made a scintillating break through the defence from inside his own half, to be supported by hooker Tom Love who galloped over under the posts. Cotter converted, and the IW were sitting pretty with a 17 point lead. They passed up two more great opportunities, and were furious with themselves when loose play was ruthlessly punished by the visitors on the stroke of halftime to leave the score at 17-5.

It was a different game on the restart, as Nomads redoubled their efforts and would pressurise the IW similarly to the first quarter. Indeed, the IW spent most of the second half in their own territory, and were again indebted to sterling defence which eventually won the day. Big tackles by Carl Folkes and Rouse Ltd man of the match Martin Tanner proved crucial, and when Nomads did force line breaks, fine scramble defence from the likes of Josh Collinson and Charlie Appell saved the day.

Nomads did get through for a try with 20 minutes remaining to come within a score of levelling. The IW play grew more nervous, and the sin binning of Love for a ruck infringement with nine minutes to go was a concern. Yet, magnificent spirit and further punishing defence secured a satisfying victory for the Islanders, returning them to the top half of the league table.

IW: Collinson, Coates, Angus Brown, Andy Brown, Mitchell, Harley, Cotter, D Tanner, Love, M Tanner, Harrison, McAdam, Joyce, Wallace, Westley. Replacements:  Merry, Leitch, Ridley, Brine, Folkes.

1sts v Southampton (H), Sat. 3 Nov. 2012

Date Tuesday, November 6, 2012 at 5:46PM
IWRFC 24 Southampton 21
A ‘must win’ match for the Islanders was in doubt right up to the final whistle. Always close and ever tense was the tone of the afternoon as IWRFC welcomed their near visitors both in mileage and in league position.

Early Island pressure soon told when a Dan Hodgson run set up an Island scrum some 5 metres out. Winning the ball, number 8 Ed Lynch stepped and dived over.

Southampton responded and answered with a penalty. The Island then lost the ball in a tackle situation and the visitors released their left wing. An offload to support saw the score. Gary Warvill drew the scores level at 8-8 with a penalty.
The rest of the first half witnessed both sides trying to gain the upper hand. It was Southampton, on the stroke of half time, who scored a converted try as the Island seemed to be looking to the break, but now trailed 15-8.

Early home pressure in the second half allowed turnover ball to be carried by Martin Newnham. From the ensuing ruck, Tom Gelling touched down.

The Island were made to pay for ill discipline on the edge of their twenty two, as the Southampton kicker, accurate all day, added a penalty. Back came the Island with one of their own through Warvill. The tension mounted as with two points in the game the last ten minutes approached.

Firstly the Island added a penalty to go one point up, then with 6 minutes left Southampton added one to lead by two at 21-19.

Now in the last minutes the home side pressured a Southampton scrum and with both Lynch and Adam Thomas flying through, Lynch charged down the kick and scored.

Now three points ahead, the home side had a minute to hang on. Hearts were in mouths as with the last kick of the game, the Southampton kicker had a 30 metre penalty to tie the game. Relief was evident as the ball fell short and the whistle blew for the Island’s first win of the season.

Rouse Intelligent Financial Planning Man of the Match went to Adam Thomas, a display of colossal effort and determination throughout the match.
IWRFC: D Stirrup, T Gelling, B Evans, N Puckett, G Warville, D Taylor, C Cotter, T Hatch, N Tombleson, A Thomas, D Hodgson, D Jennings, M Newnham, I Puzey, O Boulter, A Hay, T Coates.

1sts v Romsey (A), Sat. 27 Oct. 2012

Date Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:06PM

Romsey 37 IWRFC 19

A hard fought match which left the Island with some tough games ahead again showed what the visitors can achieve, but again ended in disappointment.

Early massive forward pressure from the Island made inroads to the Romsey half, but stout defence denied any reward.

Romsey’s pace out wide, which was to be the downfall of the visitors, led to a first home try, soon followed by a second score. With centres Nick Puckett and Brett Evans creating chaos it was only a matter of time before the Island drew ahead through tries from Dan Hodgson and Tom Gelling, both converted by Gary Warvill.

Romsey replied with a further try, but the visitors answered with a Dan Taylor try.

The game continued to be close until that wide pace from Romsey was made to count, with the home side adding the scores to shut out the game.

IWRFC: D Stirrup, T Gelling, B Evans, N Puckett, T Coates, D Taylor, G Warvill, E Lynch, T Hatch, A Hay, D Hodgson, A Thomas, D Jennings, N Tombleson, M Newnham, M Tanner, Andy Brown.

2nds v Romsey (A), Sat. 27 Oct. 2012

Date Monday, November 5, 2012 at 8:04PM

Romsey 2nds 39 IWRFC 2nds 5

Again affected by late cry-offs, the Island 2nds travelled short and borrowed players from their opposition. Despite this the visitors began strongly, pressurising the Romsey line. Withholding this pressure, Romsey responded and scored first. This pattern continued as the home side ran up a 34 point first half lead.

A totally different Island side emerged in the second half and dominated much of the half. Their only reward was a try for the club . Romsey responded with a try of their own.!

IWRFC: J Merry, Angus Brown, C Clements, J Preston, J Collinson, M Westley, T Love, N Joyce, A Downer, D Tanner, D Metcalfe

1sts v Farnborough (H), Sat. 8 Dec. 2012

Date Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 12:12PM

IW 31 Farnborough 20

Three home wins in a row for the first team moves us up to eighth place and above Farnborough, after an entertaining match at the Rec in glorious sunshine. As Zimby pointed out in the post-game speeches, the IW have been well supported this season, not least in the cold and rain two weeks ago, and this game was no exception.

The IW were missing Ross McAdam for this game but welcomed Alex Hay back to sit on the bench, while Colman Cotter slotted in at scrum-half. It was a dream start for the lads, attacking with precision and directness before Nick Puckett cut a good inside line to crash over after only 90 seconds.

Farnborough had come to play too, though, and were not too downhearted by this setback. They were being utterly dominated by the Island scrum, as Jennings, Newnham and Dave Tanner were relishing the battle, but the maul was a different story. It was Farnborough’s main weapon, and they used it well, pushing the Island back. Defence was good initially, winning us a scrum near our own line, but the heel was not controlled and the visitors pounced to level the scores.

The visitors soon led as the Island switched off. It seemed that perhaps the Island had scored too early at the start and mentally were not in the right place. This was soon rubbished, as the hosts took control of the second quarter. Nathan Tombleson put the Island back in front with a great piece of individualism, chipping over the top and putting the visitors in trouble. Tom Hatch was first to the loose ball and Nathan supported to score under the posts.

A third try followed on 33 minutes, with the help of a strong run by Tanner, who unfortunately was injured in the process and had to give way to his better-looking and ‘better in every way’ brother Martin. When the ball was recycled, superb handling saw Rouse Ltd man of the match Puckett race over for his second. Gary ‘Gary’ Warvill converted the second and third tries for the IW to lead 19-10 at the short whistle.

The IW knew that this was an important game between teams in the lower half of the table, and that nothing would come easy in the second half. They started the second half in the same way as the first, with a superb try inside the first two minutes. A powerful break by the again excellent Adam Thomas set up field position, before quick hands freed Dan Stirrup to hand off tacklers and canter over. Warvill converted and the IW appeared safe, along with a four-try bonus point.

Again credit goes to Farnborough, as they came back well and in fact dominated much of the second half, scoring another try from close range soon after Stirrup’s touchdown and using their maul time and again. It proved to be a great test of the IW defence, especially after Cotter was sinbinned – officially for a ruck infringement, but in reality because ‘he talks funny.’

The IW weathered the storm, and never looked less than threatening when they had possession. As Farnborough tried to move the ball wide, someone (might have been Lewis Murray, but I couldn’t see properly) smashed one of their backs, and Brett ‘Zimby’ Evans was able to collect the loose ball to touch down in the corner for his customary try.

Farnborough came back in search of a fourth try and a bonus point of their own. They were helped by another sin binning (Jennings) and an apparently excessive eight minutes of injury time. To be fair to the mainlanders, they worked hard for this score and it eventually came as the IW ran out of defenders, with injured players strewn all over the 22. Five points for the IW then, but Farnborough gained some satisfaction from earning one themselves at the death.

Coach Stuart Brading was questioned after the game about his side’s performance. When beginning his response with ‘In my day….’, this reporter quickly moved on to speak to captain Zimby, who proclaimed it a ‘great show from 1 to 18.’ Agreed.

We now move up to eighth place out of twelve, with some breathing space between us and the relegation places. No one can say that we are anything like safe yet, but this was another good performance against opposition that were up for it, and a continuation of this form next week at US Portsmouth and into 2013 should only see the IW move upward.

The seconds were given another walkover by Farnborough seconds, cementing their place in the top half of the Merit table but leaving them disappointed at back-to-back home cancellations. They hope to return to action at Alresford on Saturday.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Evans, Puckett, Coates, Taylor, Cotter, D Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Thomas, Boulter, Tombleson, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: M Tanner, Hay, Murray.

2nds v Chineham (A), Sat. 1 Dec. 2012

Date Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 12:35PM
Chineham II 29 IW II 15
In their poorest performance of the season to date, the Island second team slumped to defeat in Basingstoke in a game they would have hoped to win. Again, a poor start put the IW behind the eight-ball, and though they did mount a comeback, Chineham earned a deserved win.

The IW faced the significant slope in the first half, and absorbed a lot of pressure in the first 15 minutes, conceding just a penalty goal. Conditions were wet and muddy, which made it difficult for both sides to handle the ball and string phases together, but Chineham were dominating possession. They were helped by the Islanders struggling to come to terms with the referee’s interpretation of the laws, a theme that would continue for the whole match. Eventually, the Island’s resistance wavered and they conceded a try to the Chineham fly-half, soon followed by another which was converted. For the second game in a row, the Island were down 15 points inside 30 minutes.

Belatedly the IW went to work, forging territory and achieving continuity. They battered the Chineham line with James Curran and Josh Collinson going close, before Paul Carter battered his way over for a try. The game remained scrappy up to halftime, but the Island were now playing much better, and felt confident trailing 15-5 but with the slope in their favour in the second half.

On the restart, the Island continued their ascendancy and soon had their second try. Good harrying of a home defender saw the ball go loose for Colman Cotter to touch down and narrow the gap.

Conditions and the standard of play deteriorated and there was no further score for a long period of play. The Island were now on top in the scrum having struggled initially, but the lineout was the domain of the hosts. Mark Westley and Tom Love were the best forwards for the Island, while Andy Brown carried well. Eventually, Chineham got into the 22 and exploited poor Island tackling to score under the posts.!

With seven minutes to go, the IW gave themselves a glimmer of hope, turning over ball in the opposition half and moving the ball along the backline well. Reuben Mitchell was stopped short, but possession was recycled and Rouse Ltd man of the match Martin Newnham was able to score. Yet the hosts had the final say, being first to a grubber kick behind the defence and scoring a converted try to copper-fasten victory.

IW: Leahy, Merry, Collinson, Andy Brown, Mitchell, Harley, Cotter, M Tanner, Love, Newnham, Carter, Downer, Curran, Westley. Replacements: Savill, Lillington, D Tanner.

1sts v Aldershot & Fleet (H), Sat. 24 Nov. 2012

Date Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 11:41AM
IW 17 Aldershot & Fleet 10

In appalling conditions, the IW earned a deserved win and edged away from the danger zone against bottom side Aldershot & Fleet.

After a difficult early-season fixture list, the IW had identified their current run of games as a time to move up the table, but defeat at Petersfield last time out had interrupted this plan. The IW were expected to beat basement side A & F, but the dreadful weather and rapidly deteriorating pitch was always likely to prove a leveller and make scores hard to come by.

A bad start for the Islanders did not augur well, who were under their own sticks after eight minutes after conceding a try in the corner, brilliantly converted by the A & F kicker. The IW response was impressive though, dominating both possession and territory for most of the rest of the half. Though handling was understandably not always perfect in a match played in wind, rain and mud, some good phase play was created. After Ollie Boulter and Tim Coates were stopped just short, the ball was recycled and Nick Puckett was able to crash over. Gary Warvill added the extras to level the scores after 14 minutes.

Both teams were impressing the surprisingly large crowd with their commitment and skills, mixing in some fine rugby amid the inevitable scrappy play and errors. The IW continued to set the pace for the remainder of the first period, Warvill being unsuccessful with two penalty efforts, one of which struck the post. They were, however, grateful to Dan Stirrup for covering to prevent an A & F breakaway try just before halftime. The score after 40 minutes was 7-7.

The Island continued to dominate the second half, playing most of the game in the A & F half and by now controlling the scrums after a tentative start. They took the lead with a good score, as Puckett offloaded to Stirrup, who passed back inside for supporting captain Brett Evans to cross the barely visible whitewash.

12-7 remained the score for some time, as play reached stalemate even if the IW were looking more likely to add to their tally. With ten minutes remaining, they finally got the insurance score with a textbook try. The pack struck at the heart of the visiting defence before quick and secure hands along the whole backline gave Rouse Ltd man of the match Stirrup enough room to slide in at the corner.

A & F finished the game well, pushing into Island territory and forcing a penalty which they kicked to narrow the gap to seven. This would be the game’s last score. Though the IW will feel they should have won by more, Aldershot & Fleet contributed in no small part to a good game and few begrudged them their losing bonus point.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Brading, N Puckett, Coates, Taylor, Evans, D Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Thomas, Boulter, McAdam, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Peters, Murray, Tombleson.

1sts v Petersfield (A), Sat. 17 Nov. 2012

Date Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:58PM
Petersfield 29 IWRFC 15
The Island were unable to add to their previous league win when visiting Petersfield, a team fighting for points as their visitors are.
The Island’s scrum continued to be its dominant force and took all opportunities to pressurise the home side.!
It was the home side that took the lead, but the Island responded with quick hands in the backs leading to a try for Dan Stirrup.
The game remained tight, but the visitors found themselves further behind.
A second half fight back saw tries from Nathan Tombleson crashing through tackles to score, followed by a try for stand off Dan Taylor.
However a failure to chase up kicks allowed Petersfield to counter and score two decisive tries.

IWRFC: N Brading, T Coates, B Evans, D Stirrup, G Warvill, D Taylor, C Cotter, E Lynch, T Hatch, N Tombleson, O Boulter, A Thomas, M Tanner, M Newnham, D Jennings, D Tanner, R McAdam, W Peters.

Vectis Colts v Fordingbridge Colts, Sun. 18 Nov. 2012

Date Monday, November 19, 2012 at 10:58PM
Vectis Colts 15 Fordingbridge Colts 15
If only all games were like this! What a credit to themselves and to the game these two sides were at Wootton Rec on Sunday. Both sides approached the game in a positive attitude, determined to play pacey and agressive rugby.
The Vectis pack were dominant in the scrum and took the game to their visitors, whose defensive line was heroic.
But choosing a scrum from an awarded penalty, some five meters out allowed scrum half Tom Hatch to dive over.
Further pressure resulted in a Lewis Murray penalty.
With Fordingbridge finally making progress in to the home 22, they registered their first point with a penalty.
Early second half the visitors levelled with a try. It was now that both sides upped their play, both in intensity and skill. With defences just dominating over attack, the game flowed from one half to another.
Vectis had a ten minute spell of constant pressure in the visitors 22 and eventually, from their strong scrummaging, Tobias Penner scored, Murray adding the conversion.
With time running out the visitors threw everything into attack and were rewarded as their winger rounded the home defence to score under the posts, the conversion added.
Within minutes the final whistle went and all were in agreement that the draw was a fair result.! Man of the match for Vectis was fullback Jack Wilson, forward Man of the match Silas Gregory and backs Jack Blanchard.

1sts v New Milton (A), Sat. 26 Jan. 2013

Date Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 9:42PM

New Milton & District 65 IW 20

The 1sts played a tough and frustrating game against league leaders New Milton. Late changes to the starting line out gave opportunity for new players to impress and the island started the game aggressively. However Milton were first to score as a result of several missed tackles. The island came firing back & strong running from Andrew Brown and Ben Ridley resulted in a penalty 30 metres out, which Lewis Murray converted. As was the story for the majority of the game, New Milton came back strong & despite valiant defensive efforts from man of the match Angus Brown,New Milton scored quickly. The island themselves came back strong & were awarded a penalty which Murray converted. Unfortunately for the island New Milton’s strong running game led to another 3 tries for the hosts.

As has been the case all season, the island never gave up. Good pressure in defence resulted in a a charge down by Dan Taylor and Colman Cotter showed great awareness and tenacity to dive on the loose ball, over the try line. New Milton once again used their loose forwards to gain inroads in the Islands defence&then sent the ball out wide to increase their lead further. New Milton however were frustrated by dogged work at the breakdown from Keith Wallace and Ed Lynch and the island were awarded several penalties. Captain Brett Evans took the final penalty quickly and handed off 2 would be tacklers to crash over for the try. Despite constant pressure from the Island, the hosts managed to score another 3 tries. The final score belies the character and desire of the island players & although well beaten by a talented side, the island look forward positively to the rest of the season.

1. M.Tanner 2. M.Newnham 3. D.Jennings 4. A.Thomas 5. R.McAdam 6. K.Wallace 7. T.Hatch 8. E.Lynch 9. B.Evans 10. D.Taylor 11. A.Brown Jnr 12. A.Brown 13. B.Ridley 14. C.Williams 15. L.Murray 16. D.Tanner 17. C.Cotter 18. W.Peters

2nds v Ventnor (H), Sat. 26 Jan. 2013

Date Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 7:09PM
IW II 36 Ventnor II 17
Backing up their recent good win at Andover, the IW seconds were victorious against local rivals Ventnor at Wootton Rec. A sparkling first half put the IW in a strong position, but they lost focus and Ventnor fought back before the home side could ensure victory.

The IW set about their task with purpose and soon had Ventnor on the defensive, scoring their first try after 9 minutes. Impressive link play put them in pole position in the Ventnor 22, before good handling allowed Brandon Frost-Jones over in the corner. This try was added to four minutes later, as fly-half Gary Warvill crabbed left off a lineout on the 22, before Tony Lillington cut a great line through the middle to score under the posts. Warvill converted and the IW led 12-0.

Ventnor struggled manfully to get a foothold in the game, but they met with uncompromising Island defence at all stages of the first half. This allowed the hosts to turnover ball and edge territory, and when they secured possession inside the opposition half they were always threatening. Chances were created but wasted, before a Warvill break was supported by Nigel Harley for Lillington to score his second try. A fourth try followed just before halftime, created by enterprising play from deep and a lengthy run by Rouse Ltd man of the match Reuben Mitchell. He was brought down inside the 22, but support was quickly forthcoming. Ventnor infringed under the posts, and Warvill took a tap penalty to touch down for the try. He converted and the IW led 24-0 at the break.

The second half began in much the same way as the first had concluded, as the IW got on the front foot and scored courtesy of replacement James Curran. Now came a switch in the game’s balance of power, however. The IW seemed to relax, feeling that the game was safe, while Ventnor also deserve credit for not giving up and taking the game to the opposition. They began with a try by Dean Magnusson, converted by Warren Riches.

22 points still appeared a comfortable advantage, but Ventnor were now buoyed and took advantage of poor Island tackling to score two tries, both courtesy of debutant Fred Newman. This Ventnor purple patch seemed set to continue as things went wrong for the IW. First Ian Puzey (along with his opposite number) was sinbinned after an altercation, followed by Ollie Boulter after an incident off the ball. Then influential scrum-half Neil Brading had to depart with a broken nose, sustained in an accidental collision with one of his team mates.

It was to the IW’s credit that they steadied the ship and put the game to bed, rediscovering their earlier aggression and defensive nous and running the ball with verve. Another tap penalty by Warvill was supported by Paul Carter, who spun out of a tackle to crash over. Warvill added the conversion to set the seal on an overall impressive victory, though there was still time for some more derby fisticuffs before the final whistle. In the spirit of rugby, both sides shook hands and made up at the end of an entertaining tussle.

IW: Lillington, Coates, Harley, Carter, Mitchell, Warvill, Brading, Puzey, Love, Metcalfe, Frost- Jones, Boulter, Harrison, Joyce, Westley. Replacements: Brine, Downer, Curran, Tyson, Savill, Moffat.

2nds v Andover (A), Sat. 12 Jan. 2013

Date Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 4:42PM
Andover III 5 IW II 41
In their first game after a long layoff, the Island second team returned with a bang, earning a fine victory at third-place Andover in cold and wet conditions. The final score belies a hard-fought game where the Island only pulled away in the last 20 minutes, scoring four converted tries.

Andover fielded a large pack which was a threat in the setpieces and maul. As anticipated, they played a narrow game and regularly launched runners at the Island close to the ruck. Yet the Island defence was supreme throughout. The forwards and halfbacks made tackle after tackle, though Rouse Ltd man of the match Angus Brown was particularly impressive in this facet of the game.

The Island were first on the board as Chris Williams kicked a penalty goal after eight minutes. The IW then had to absorb some pressure, but defended very well. It soon became apparent that the IW had the better backline and would create opportunities when they moved the ball, as they did when scoring the opening try inside 20 minutes. The returning Richard Crossland made the initial break, and good hands by Tom Enticknap enabled the flying Tim Coates to race over for a fine try and an 8-0 lead.

Around the half-hour mark, the IW extended their lead with an even better score, starting in their own half. A move involving James Horton and Enticknap was supported by Crossland, who just held on to an offload and crashed over. Andover did respond with a spell of pressure culminating in a close range try, making the halftime score 13-5 in the away team’s favour.

The third quarter of the match was scoreless and scrappy. In difficult conditions, both sides were finding it hard to gain momentum, but slowly and surely the Island began to edge the game territorially and scored close to the hour mark. Replacement Will Peters, also returning after a period of inactivity, barrelled through two tackles to crash over for a try converted by debutant Harry Dye, giving the IW a more comfortable 15 point lead.

As the older and heavier Andover side tired, the Island now took over, threatening from all over the park. A couple of chances went begging, but another try was scored with 10 minutes remaining, as a Peters break was supported by Dye for a thrilling score, though with a hint of a forward pass. Dye converted this and the next try minutes later – Williams delivered a measured crosskick which was not dealt with by the defence, and Dye was able to kick through and score, bringing his personal tally to 16 points.!

Andover heads now dropped as they continued to get no change out of a superb IW defence. There was time for one more score, as a flowing move involving Crossland ended with Peters unselfishly passing to the hardworking Nick Joyce, to score his first try for the Island. Williams added the conversion to end a memorable victory. Though the score may have been a little flattering, there was no denying the consummate nature of the IW performance in both attack and defence. They now move up to fourth in the league and will hope to climb higher on the basis of this showing.

IW: Harley, Coates, Angus Brown, Crossland, Enticknap, Williams, Collinson, Frost-Jones, Love, Brine, Mitchell, Harrison, Brading, Joyce, Westley. Replacements: Horton, Peters, Dye.

1sts v Millbrook (H), Sat. 5 Jan. 2013

Date Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 9:33PM
IW 11 Millbrook 3

2013 began with a performance of substance if not style for the Isle of Wight RFC, as they secured a deserved first victory for a few seasons over Millbrook and moved back into eighth place in Hampshire One.

Conditions at Wootton Rec were muddy and drizzle fell throughout much of the game, which partly explains the low-scoring affair but doesn’t do justice to the constructive approach of both sides, who sought to keep the ball alive throughout. Yet the IW also kicked sensibly as the game progressed, with joint Rouse Ltd man of the match Dan Taylor in particular pinning Millbrook back and squeezing their chances of turning around their deficit.

The IW started well, forcing a penalty 35 metres out after 8 minutes, which Lewis Murray converted to three points with a well struck kick. Millbrook would cancel this out after 13 minutes, and from then until halftime shaded matters. Though the home side had plenty of possession and strung plenty of good phases together, the opposing defence was in uncompromising mood, and Millbrook had the best chance of the half. A menacing move saw their centre kick through, but the deadball line saved the Island before the chasing winger could touch down. The sides were deadlocked 3-3 at halftime.

Renewing their effort, the IW played very well in the second half. The scrum was in complete control, while Ollie Boulter and Alex Hay were among the most effective forwards in the loose. Nick Puckett ran strongly, and Dan Stirrup was both assured in defence and threatening in attack.

Stirrup had a big part to play in the game’s key score, after 52 minutes. It was started by Brett Evans’ sniping break and carried on by Stirrup, moving the ball into the Millbrook 22. From there, the hosts battered the try line, creating space and passing right for Gary Warvill to score. The IW now led 8-3 but there was a long way to go.

Millbrook did have a couple of threatening moments, but were usually deep in their own territory when they got the opportunity to move the ball wide, and cover defence by Evans and Ed Lynch snuffed these chances out. In truth, it was the Island’s half as the action rarely crossed the halfway line for the rest of the game. This territorial dominance was not reflected on the scoreboard, but the excellent pack eventually won a penalty in front of the posts in the first minute of injury time, which joint Rouse Ltd man of the match Murray kicked as the insurance score.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Evans, Puckett, Murray, Taylor, Cotter, Puzey, Newnham, M Tanner, Boulter, Thomas, Tombleson, Hay, Lynch. Replacements: Jennings, McAdam, Andy Brown.

1sts v US Portsmouth (A), Sat. 15 Dec. 2012!

Date Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 11:51AM

United Services Portsmouth 35 Isle of Wight 10

In their final league game of 2012, the IW were comprehensively defeated by an impressive US Portsmouth side at Burnaby Road.

The home side maintained their second place position in Hampshire One with this win, and looked every inch promotion challengers for the majority of the game. They began with wind advantage and dominated the first half in terms of territory, giving the IW piles of defensive work to do. The visitors did well to restrict US to two penalty goals in the first 15 minutes.

IW were in control of the scrum and had the better of the lineout exchanges too, but when the home side generated quick ball, their power and mobility stretched the Islanders to the limit. Dan Taylor and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dan Stirrup were among the busiest tacklers in the IW defence, but it was only a matter of time before US crossed the try line for the first time.

Even though trailing by 11 points, the Island felt that they were still in the game, especially with wind advantage to come, but US Portsmouth added a second try just before halftime to lead 16-0, leaving the IW with a major task.

They set about their task very well at first, using the breeze to set up territory. At first they were mysteriously penalised in a scrum on the US line when looking certain to score. However, shortly after this they had their first try as Gary Warvill kicked through, the home defence failed to deal with the slippery ball and Warvill touched down.

For a period it looked as though the IW could save the game or at least earn a bonus point, but the home response was ruthless, creating an overlap before moving the ball wide for a fine score. When they followed this with a converted try from a slick lineout move, the game was theirs.

The IW showed no little spirit for the remainder of the game, defending bravely with young replacements Ben Ridley and Lewis Murray doing well. They also gave the Services some defensive problems, and deserved their second try as captain Brett Evans determinedly wriggled over in the corner. Yet it was fitting that the hosts had the final word, scoring a fifth try with a minute left as the IW ran out of defenders.

As their league campaign reaches the halfway point and the Christmas break, the IW will be confident that they can avoid a relegation battle, but also know that they will need to improve their away form in the new year. Their next league match will be on Saturday 5 January at Wootton Rec, against Millbrook.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Evans, Puckett, Coates, Taylor, Cotter, M Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Boulter, Thomas, Tombleson, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Murray, McAdam, Ridley.

1sts v Southampton (A), Sat. 16 Feb. 2013

Date Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 9:55AM

Southampton 24 IW 15

The Isle of Wight could not maintain momentum from the previous week’s win as they suffered a disappointing loss to rivals Southampton.

As has been the case this season the IW were slow to start. The short journey seemed to have disorientated the side who let Southampton run at them, defending well but not counter attacking when it was needed. Despite absorbing pressure, the IW did well to keep out a gritty Southampton side until a brace of missed tackles resulted in a Southampton try. The IW fought back well earning themselves a penalty which Lewis Murray converted. This was nullified by a Southampton penalty with the referee choosing an interesting approach to breakdown management.

The IW worked their way back up the pitch with good rucking and running from their pack led by Rouse Ltd man of match Ed Lynch. However they were unable to capitalise on a penalty and Southampton counter attacked to score a well worked try before the half time break.

Stern words at half time seemed to spur the away side on. Again awarded a penalty which they could not convert, the IW kept pushing forward but with good defence from the home side and poor handling from the visitors, their attack came to nothing. An intercept try from Southampton’s Pacific Islander seemed to have broken the back of the IW but a Southampton sin binning and a good try from Will Peters gave the IW hope. Despite another try from Brett Evans, the Isle of Wight simply left it too late to make a comeback. They next play Petersfield at home in a hugely important game for league position.

2nds v Southsea Nomads (A), Sat. 16 Feb. 2013

Date Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 1:35PM
Southsea Nomads II 31 IW II 15
The Island seconds suffered their first defeat of 2013 at Portsmouth University. Despite leading by ten points at one stage and still being in front at halftime, a depleted IW were eventually overpowered in the second half.

Owing to the age-old affliction of late cryoffs (5 in the 24 hours preceding the game), the IW travelled with only 16 players, including many playing out of position. However, they started like a whirlwind, setting up an opportunity with phase play and moving the ball blind for joint man of the match Richard Crossland to crash over in the right corner in the second minute.

Kieran Leahy was then short with a penalty effort, and Mike Dalchow was forced out at the corner flag, before the Island’s second try inside the first quarter hour. Strong running by Crossland and Rouse Ltd man of the match Angus Brown, allowed Nigel Harley to touch down in the left corner for a 10-0 advantage. This was one of Harley’s last contributions though, as he sustained an injury leaving the Island with the bare 15.

As the second quarter progressed, the play became scrappy but also more even. Nomads began to test the Island defence which stood up very well at first. The hosts did narrow the gap shortly before halftime, as one of their forwards peeled unseen from a maul to crash over under the posts. The conversion made it 10-7 at halftime.

The IW now faced the sun in the second half, and would find themselves pinned back for most of the period. Nomads brought on some able substitutes to bolster their efforts, while the IW began to sustain injuries. Influential players such as Colman Cotter and Nathan Tombleson were forced to soldier on and the IW wilted steadily, conceding a breakaway try to give up the lead. The killer blow was a two try salvo with ten minutes remaining, putting the game out of reach.

It was to the IW’s credit that they finished strongly and scored the final try of the game, as Tombleson and Paul Carter put the IW into a dangerous position, before Cotter set up Dalchow to crash over at the corner flag. Though well beaten in the end, the IW were by no means disgraced in defeat if disappointed to give up a lead.

IW: Harley, Dalchow, Angus Brown, Carter, Leahy, Crossland, Cotter, D Metcalfe, Love, Savill, Harrison, Westley, Moffat, Joyce, Tombleson, J Metcalfe.

1sts v Romsey (H), Sat. 9 Feb. 2013

Date Monday, February 11, 2013 at 10:05PM
IW 6 Romsey 0

The Isle of Wight secured a hard fought win in terrible conditions to regain eighth place in Hampshire One.

If the IW forwards had been dominated in the first match against Romsey, they turned the tables on them this time around. Strong scrummaging from Dean Jennings, Martin Newnham and Martin Tanner tired their pack out. Keith Wallace played superbly stealing several balls during the game. The Isle of Wight were given the first penalty in kicking range after Romsey were caught offside trying to contain strong running from Dan Taylor and Nick Puckett. Lewis Murray coolly slotted it to open the scoring.

The Island spent the next 20 minutes in their own half as a result of silly penalties and referee interpretation of the breakdown. Adam Thomas was lost to the sin bin in a case of mistaken identity, yet the Island remained staunch in defence with important tackles from Alex Hay and Tom Hatch. Halftime arrived with Murray’s penalty the only score of the first 40 minutes.

Isle of Wight seemed revitalised after half time and an Ed Lynch break from the back of the scrum fed captain Brett Evans. The Zimbabwean offloaded to Gary Warvill who made good yards before being tackled and not released. Murray slotted the penalty from wide out to double the IW advantage.

As conditions underfoot grew steadily swampier, the rest of the game was mainly played in the middle of the park. The Island lost Keith Wallace to the sin bin and Romsey missed a penalty chance, striking the post. Shortly after this, quick recycled ball from Hay and Lynch led to a superb 60m break by Dave Tanner only to be robbed of the try by an excellent cover tackle.

Murray sent a third penalty kick wide with five minutes remaining and Romsey retained hope, but they were not to be successful. The last few minutes saw the Island defend superbly and with important tackles from Rouse Ltd. man of the match Evans and fly-half Taylor, they were relieved to hear the final whistle and get the well deserved win.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Ridley, Puckett, Murray, Taylor, Evans, M Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Thomas, Hay, Wallace, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: Peters, McAdam, D Tanner.

2nds v Romsey (H), Sat. 9 Feb. 2013

Date Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 10:44AM

IW II 52 Romsey II 0
Extending their recent good form, the Isle of Wight second team enjoyed a facile victory over Romsey in wintry conditions at Wootton Rec. The depleted visitors were a shadow of the side the IW had faced on the mainland in October, and the IW were ruthless in putting them to the sword.
Romsey travelled with a squad of 13, and it was agreed to play 13 a side to ensure a competitive game. This did come about for the opening half-hour or so, though the IW were dominant at all times. Romsey contested the forward battle vigorously early on, but once the home side could generate quick ball and move the ball out to the backs, they controlled the scoreboard. They opened the scoring after 6 minutes, as good hands along the backline ended with Harry Dye running an excellent line to cut through and score under the posts.

The IW were a little indisciplined at the breakdown in the first half and gave away a number of penalties, which stalled their momentum for a spell. Yet they played most of the rugby and soon scored again in like manner to the first try, as this time Angus Brown exploited space to score. A third try soon followed, courtesy of influential back row Nathan Tombleson who was making his return from injury, and crashed over from a five metre scrum.

It wasn’t all good news for the IW in the first half, as for the second game in a row a player suffered a broken nose in an accidental clash with a team mate! This time, it was lineout talisman Nick Joyce who was forced off. However, the Island dominance was not interrupted for long, and fly-half Richard Crossland was next to crash over after a flowing move in the last minute of the half. Dye was on form with the boot, converting all four tries to extend the Island lead to 28 points at the break.

Conscious of having lost focus from a similar position in their previous game, the IW were determined to finish the game off early on and did so. Captain Colman Cotter sent a probing kick through, and debutant Tom Ross showed pace and a mean sidestep to touch down within minutes of his introduction.

The outgunned visitors were gallantly battling on, but now began to sustain injuries and leak further tries. Crossland added his second, before a wayward clearance kick was pounced upon by Tombleson to match his team mate’s brace. Dye converted both before his substitution, completing a perfect set of place-kicks.

Rouse Ltd man of the match Crossland would conclude proceedings by completing his hat-trick, speeding in from inside his own half. Romsey were now sustaining injuries and the competitive aspect of the match was dwindling, so with 61 minutes played it was mutually agreed to end the game. The Island were pleased with a committed and encouraging performance to preserve their unbeaten record in 2013, but will know that more difficult tests lie ahead.

IW: Dye, Mitchell, Angus Brown, Carter, Crossland, Cotter, Puzey, Love, Metcalfe, Frost-Jones, Westley, Tombleson, Joyce, Savill, Brine, Finn, Ross.

1sts v Fordingbridge (H), 2 Feb. 2013

Date Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 11:36AM
IW 10 Fordingbridge 31
A familiar pattern this season was continued at sunny and cold Wootton Rec, as the Isle of Wight delivered a strong performance against much higher rated opposition, but were on the wrong end of the scoreline. Fordingbridge were the classier outfit and deserved their win, but also had to show plenty of heart given a lot of defensive work.

The IW fielded minus a number of regular players, and faced the stiff breeze in the first half, but spent a good part of it in opposition territory. Dan Stirrup and Adam Thomas were among those who tested the ‘Bridge defence most often, but any turned over ball was generally kicked back downfield with the help of the wind. The opening 20 minutes were scoreless and neither side truly threatened the other’s line.

Injuries further depleted the IW resources in the first half. Martin Tanner was forced off after 10 minutes, but the loss of Chris Williams to a recurrence of his back injury after 28 minutes appeared to have a more immediate effect on proceedings. After a lengthy stoppage while Williams was removed from the pitch, the IW appeared to lose concentration and Fordingbridge were promptly celebrating their first try in the corner, expertly converted. A second try soon followed and the IW were suddenly trailing by 12. They finished the half well, and retained hope with wind advantage to come.

After five minutes of second-half stalemate, the IW took over. Halfbacks Brett Evans and Gary Warvill set up field position, allowing the team to set about battering away in the ‘Bridge 22. Yet they met with fierce resistance from a determined visiting side, who repelled a series of assaults but incurred a yellow card owing to foul play off the ball. After a series of scrums and penalties on the five metre line, captain Evans took a quick tap and slid over on 56 minutes to narrow the gap.

Unfortunately, kicker Lewis Murray’s radar was off on this occasion, missing the conversion and an earlier kickable penalty. Of more importance in the final analysis was Fordingbridge’s response to conceding a try, as they found a gap in the IW defence to score and lead 17-5.!
The IW were soon back on the offensive, as Alex Hay and Ed Lynch impressed. Another lengthy period of pressure ensued, before powerful prop and Rouse Ltd man of the match Dean Jennings crashed over in the corner for a memorable try, his first ever. The gap was now back to seven points, but once again Fordingbridge hit back within minutes of the restart, showing the difference between the sides – the IW had to work harder for their scores, and while they generally defended with great heart and organisation, they were caught out on a couple of key occasions.

In the last 10 minutes, the IW threw caution to the wind but were unable to break down the visitors. Fordingbridge wrested back control, and added a fifth try in the seventh minute of stoppage time, creating a final score which does scant justice to a compelling and close contest.

IW: Stirrup, Murray, Ridley, Andy Brown, Williams, Warvill, Evans, M Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Thomas, Hay, Wallace, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: D Tanner, Eggleton, Harrison.

1sts v Farnborough (A), Sat. 20 April 2013

Date Sunday, April 21, 2013 at 12:07PM

Farnborough 41 Isle of Wight 35
The Isle of Wight concluded their Hampshire One campaign with a heartbreaking defeat at Farnborough. After a fine performance, the Island seemed to have done enough to win with a late try, but conceded a controversial score in stoppage time which gave the hosts the win.
Though both sides had little but pride to play for, they served up a thrilling game full of commitment and running rugby. The IW had the prospect of moving above Romsey into eighth place if they could win, but were facing a Farnborough in excellent recent form, who were unbeaten since January. The IW’s poor away record coupled with the unavailability of a number of regulars did not augur well, but they would go on to perform impressively.
Farnborough had wind advantage in the first half, and began with vigour, scoring a try off a lineout drive after only three minutes. The IW were quick to get their first points on the board, forcing a penalty kicked by Lewis Murray. This pattern repeated itself in the first fifteen minutes, as Farnborough’s forwards engineered a try, answered by a Murray penalty to leave the score at 12-6.
Both sides were taking advantage of the spring sunshine and firm underfoot conditions which had proven elusive during the season, and the IW looked particularly threatening when moving the ball. They lost Keith Wallace to injury, but approached the Farnborough line where a home player was sin binned for infringing at the ruck. From the ensuing set piece, the evergreen Will Peters handed off two tacklers and touched down under the posts. Murray converted and the Island led 13-12.

Disappointingly for the IW, Farnborough would score twice while short-handed. Firstly they scored a penalty goal to regain the lead, before exploiting poor Island work at the restart to score a converted try from inside their own half. Rouse Ltd man of the match Murray was in unerring form with the boot and narrowed the gap with his third penalty as the half drew to a close, but the Island conceded another try from the restart, as this aspect of the game seemed to be causing them major problems. Farnborough led 29-16 at halftime.

Now the IW would face a searching examination of their mental fortitude and team spirit, which they unquestionably passed. Alex Hay handled well at the base of a scrum which was under pressure, while Adam Thomas and replacement Andy Brown were threatening runners. The most threatening runner of all was skipper Brett Evans, who finished off a fine Island drive by sniping over after 48 minutes. The conversion saw the Island back within one score.

Murray was using the breeze well and the IW now had the better of territory. They were posing a threat at all times now, and when a Gary Warvill grubber kick caused consternation in the Farnborough defence, Angus Brown was quickest to react to plunge over to narrow the gap to a point. Yet, a lapse in concentration let Farnborough in for another score and a 34-28 lead, with 14 minutes left.

Play was now end-to-end and the large crowd were being thoroughly entertained. Defences seemed to be holding up on both sides as time ticked by, but in the last minute of normal time, the IW generated what seemed like the winning score. A series of drives took the IW to the host’s 10 metre line, and as the home defence hesitated, Evans ghosted through a gap and touched down under the posts for his second try. Murray converted and the IW held a one-point lead going into stoppage time.

Farnborough redoubled their efforts, driving close to the IW line in the fourth minute of added time but being repelled by desperate defence. Eventually they rumbled over the line, but despite IW players being adamant that the Farnborough player had been held up and had not grounded the ball, the referee awarded the try. There was time for the IW to launch one final attack and get to within seven metres of the Farnborough line, but they were penalised and the hosts were relieved to put the ball out of play and celebrate the victory.

IW: Stirrup, Angus Brown, Warvill, Peters, Eggleton, Murray, Evans, M Tanner, Newnham, D Tanner, Thomas, McAdam, Wallace, Hatch, Hay. Replacements: Andy Brown, Tombleson, Cotter.
2nds v MH Pirates (A), Sat. 13 Apr. 2013

DateMonday, April 15, 2013 at 7:41PM
Market House Pirates 35 IW II 0

In dreadful conditions at Havant RFC, the IW were well beaten by league leaders Market House Pirates. The game was much closer than the scoreline might suggest, but the Islanders were overpowered in the second half by a rampant side who were able to use players from neighbouring higher league teams.

The IW faced a strong diagonal breeze in the first half, and things looked grim when they conceded a try to the hard-running Pirates after nine minutes. Yet their defence was not found wanting in the opening period, making several big tackles and interrupting the winners’ rhythm. Debutant Lee Hodgson showed up well, while another debutant in Rob Vaughan was lording the lineout and tackling very well. Pirates seemed unwilling to kick the ball and use wind advantage, perhaps understandably in the light of Vaughan’s lineout dominance.

Halftime approached and arrived with the score still at 7-0, and the IW were confident of turning the game around. It was, however, one of those days where little went right for them. After a mixed start in the scrum, the IW had begun to dominate and disrupt Pirates ball, but were forced into uncontested scrums when all-action hooker Reuben Mitchell succumbed to injury at the break. With a cleaner supply of ball in the second half, the powerful Pirates would prosper. They were also helped by the disappearance of the earlier strong breeze.!

The hosts scored within minutes of the restart to double their advantage. Then another key moment went against the IW, as Neil Brading threaded an excellent grubber kick through – flying wing Rich Vaughan touched down for a great try, but was deemed by the referee to have been in touch-in-goal as he did so. Market House took full advantage, playing some impressive rugby and stretching the Islanders to add three further tries before the final whistle.

IW: Lillington, Rich Vaughan, Harley, Crossland, Horton, Brading, Cotter, Savill, Mitchell, Jennings, Corney, Westley, Moffat, Rob Vaughan, Hodgson, Merry.

1sts v US Portsmouth (A, Hants. Plate qf), Sat. 16 Mar. 2013

DateSunday, March 17, 2013 at 12:42PM

United Services Portsmouth 33 Isle of Wight 29

The Isle of Wight exited the Hampshire Plate at the quarter-final stage after an entertaining encounter at Burnaby Road. Having comprehensively defeated the IW in the corresponding league encounter in December, USP found the going tougher on this occasion but did enough to hold off the fast finishing IW.

A disappointing first half shouldered much of the blame for the IW’s exit. They conceded an admittedly impressive try off first-phase ball in the second minute to cough up seven points before they had even got their hands on the ball. However, the IW soon forced a penalty which Lewis Murray kicked to narrow the gap.
A considerable diagonal breeze favoured the IW in the first half, but they did not make full use of it, playing too much rugby in their own half as opposed to playing for territory. The first half’s pattern soon established itself, as the Island completely dominated the scrums, but their lineout malfunctioned badly. Meanwhile, USP looked dangerous when they could move the ball wide. The IW were forced into conceding penalties, and the USP fly-half landed two kicks to give his side a 13-3 lead.

The IW did look threatening given clean ball, as Tom Hatch put in a busy performance while Dan Hodgson performed strongly on his return to action from work commitments. Some strong driving play from the forwards ended with captain Brett Evans sniping over from close range. Murray kicked the angled conversion and the margin was down to three. It was disappointing that the IW then conceded a further try, failing to clear the ball and turning possession over in their own 22. Halftime arrived and USP led 18-10.

With the breeze now favouring the Services side, hope seemed slim for the Islanders, particularly when the hosts scored their third try within five minutes of the restart. It was now that the IW showed the team spirit that has been a hallmark of their season, scrapping for every ball and forcing a scrum on the USP 22. The forwards pushed forward five metres, before a slick blindside move gave Gary Warvill the space to crash over despite the attentions of two tacklers. Murray’s fine touchline conversion attempt hit the post, but the IW now had renewed hope.

Frustratingly, the hosts were soon given the ball to create another backs’ try, converted for a 30-15 lead. Yet the seesaw nature of the contest continued, as the Island pack again set up field position and forced a penalty five metres out. Evans took it quickly and burrowed over in a carbon copy of his first-half score. Murray improved the try and the gap was back to eight.

The home side were next to score, this time from a penalty, but the Island soon constructed their fourth and best try from inside their own half. Replacement Colman Cotter fed Hodgson who broke the line, and was supported by Ed Lynch who cantered in under the posts. The score was now 33-29 with ten minutes left. Nerves were now jangling, but to the credit of USP, they repelled any remaining IW efforts to break out for a winning try. As time expired, the IW were left to rue their shortcomings in a game they might have won, but also to take heart from their many passages of impressive play. They will now be optimistic facing into their last three league games, including a return match with USP at Wootton Rec. on the 6th of April.

IW: Stirrup, Warvill, Ridley, Puckett, Murray, Taylor, Evans, M Tanner, Newnham, Jennings, Thomas, Hodgson, Wallace, Hatch, Lynch. Replacements: D Tanner, Cotter, Angus Brown.

1sts v Aldershot & Fleet (A), Sat. 9 Mar. 2013

DateSunday, March 17, 2013 at 11:28AM
Aldershot & Fleet 5 Isle of Wight 36

The IWRFC first team travelled to Aldershot&Fleet in another crunch game in ensuring safety in the Hampshire 1 league. The Island were particularly aware of their poor record on away games and worryingly they had to change at the host’s club and jump back on the coach to a pitch a few miles away. However the less than ideal pre-game preparation infuriated the Island who started the game clinically and Charles Eggleton showed tremendous pace on his first touch of the ball, sprinted from his own half to score out wide. The unconverted try was soon nullified as the hosts released their big centre who managed to muscle over for a try under the posts, which they were unable to convert.

The momentum had now switched to the hosts and Alex Hay’s bemusing sin binning further compounded the Island’s problems. Aldershot had the lion’s share of possession and consistently attacked the try line. Fantastic defence from Keith Wallace, Adam Thomas and Will Peters kept Aldershot from grounding the ball over the try line on no less than three occasions. The 14 man Island then had to shift players around when pack leader Ed Lynch had to leave the pitch for running repairs to a head wound after making an excellent covering tackle. Valiantly the Island kept the hosts out and started to gain more possession of the ball. Brilliant running from Rouse Ltd. man of the match Ben Ridley, veteran Will Peters and the sublime Dan Stirrup went unrewarded as the half time whistle sounded with the score 5-5.

The Island started the second half strongly and quick hands from Dan Taylor and Ridley sent Eggleton racing down the touch line for his second try. The score remained 10-5 for several minutes as the island were guilty of rushing attack when they were within scoring distance. Strong running from the hosts kept the Island’s defence honest and it looked as though the game would remain a close one. Good reaction to a loose ball by Hay eventually led to a scrum in the opposition 22. Lynch picked from the base, offloaded to captain Brett Evans who shrugged off a tackle and powered over for a try from 15 yards out. Lewis Murray converted and the Island now looked to open the score line further. They started playing in phases and good control from Taylor at 10 kept them in the host’s half. The pack provided another solid base for Lynch to pick up, draw two players and again offload to Evans, who bounced off one tackle and cut back in to score from 30 metres out. Murray again converted the try and the Island were in no mood to let up. Colman Cotter’s introduction to the game picked up the pace and Nathan Tombleson showed great awareness after a messy scrum to latch onto a loose ball and power over for a brilliant converted try.

Using phases as well as the width of the pitch, the Island were not done scoring. Aggressive play from Tom Hatch and Dean Jennings allowed Martin Newnham to pick from the back of a ruck and burrow over for a well deserved try on the final play of the game.

2nds v Aldershot & Fleet (A), Sat. 9 Mar. 2013

DateSunday, March 10, 2013 at 5:57PM
Aldershot & Fleet II 39 IW II 5
An understrength Isle of Wight second team were well beaten by Aldershot & Fleet in Merit Three. The home team fielded a strong side including a formidable Fijian contingent that proved too much for the IW to handle.
The IW were under pressure from the off, conceding a try inside the first five minutes and another inside 15 minutes. This start appeared ominous in the extreme, but the IW fought their way back into proceedings, thanks to strong running from Richard Crossland and Neil Harrison. From an attack in the A & F 22, Rouse Ltd man of the match Andy Brown cleverly went blind before passing to Nick Joyce. He drew a defender and parted to wing Tom Ross, who finished clinically in the corner.
Now the match was more even, as underfoot conditions deteriorated on a pitch holding a lot of water. A & F were always a threat though, with an array of strong runners and scored another try a few minutes before halftime. They then fielded the IW’s kickoff and ran it back with panache to score again, without a defending hand being laid on them. The halftime score was 20-5.

Prop Dave Metcalfe now departed injured after sustaining an early knock – the Island had to use their one replacement and scrums now had to be uncontested. Disappointingly, A & F would again score early in the half, exploiting missed tackles to extend their lead.

A heavy defeat seemed certain now, but the IW rallied and had their best spell of the game. They battered the A & F line for a period close to 15 minutes, but without scoring. The hosts persistently went offside in this spell, eventually having a player sinbinned, but this advantage was immediately negated as flyhalf Crossland was forced off injured, reducing the IW to 14 for the remainder of the game. Just as a penalty try seemed inevitable, the ball was turned over and A & F cleared their lines.
The match remained competitive in the last quarter, but A & F possessed a cutting edge and finishing power which the IW did not. Despite a fine debut by scrum-half Tom Marriott and some enterprising play by the IW, two more tries were scored by the hosts, both converted to round off a resounding home win.
IW: Collinson, Ross, Enticknap, Andy Brown, Leahy, Crossland, Marriott, Savill, Love, D Metcalfe, Harrison, Frost-Jones, Mitchell, Joyce, Westley, Moffat.