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

IW II 15-17 Tottonians III

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

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

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

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

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

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

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