IW II 29-7 US Portsmouth II
A clear-cut victory was the result of a strong performance by the Isle of Wight RFC’s second team at Wootton Rec on Saturday. Fielding a sizeable squad which notably included five natives of County Cork in Ireland, the IW laid the foundations for the victory with set-piece supremacy and greater firepower behind the scrum.
In glorious conditions, IW started best and scored first, as the impressive Dillan Egan finished off a concerted spell of pressure. The Services side hit back almost immediately as IW failed to clear their lines, and the touchline conversion gave USP a 7-5 advantage.
A close battle ensued, as IW faced the wind but had more possession. This was in part due to a superior scrum and Nick Joyce’s domination of the lineout, though the loss of James Curran to injury was a blow. As the half drew towards a close, USP’s defence creaked and IW exploited some gaps. Firstly, the evergreen Andy White crashed over in the corner, before powerful prop and Rouse Ltd man of the match Rhys Martin broke a tackle to touch down. Ryan Stewart converted the latter try and IW led 17-7 at the break.
With the wind and sun at their backs, matters seemed stacked in IW’s favour, but USP dug in and the third quarter was evenly contested, IW edging territory but being sloppy in their execution at times. Standout performances in this half came from Irish guest Shane Hennessy and battling flanker Ian Bennett. When the hosts did string phases together, some excellent rugby was on show and a slick move ended in a try for Mark Waterer on his return to rugby after a lengthy absence. Stewart converted again, and was rewarded for a busy performance by sneaking over for the insurance score with the final play of the game.
IW: Leahy, Harley, White, Gates, Tombleson, Stewart, Cotter, Martin, Pettifer, Hennessy, Egan, J Bishop, Bennett, Joyce, Curran. Replacements: Waterer, Pudney, Jones, Thomas, Sellick, Metcalfe, L Blackman, O’Connell.