Match report: 2nds v Ventnor (A), Sat. 27 Feb. 2016

Ventnor II 14 IW II 15

After two comprehensive defeats away to the top sides in Hampshire Merit SW, the Isle of Wight second team were back on the winning trail in this local derby, completing a double over Ventnor this season. This was the proverbial game of two halves on the scoreboard, as Ventnor took a 14-0 lead at halftime before being overhauled in the second period.

The hosts had the advantage of a significant breeze in the first half, though IW had the better of possession for much of the half, based especially on a strong scrum performance. Ventnor’s defence was solid though, and IW were guilty of being loose in possession which gave up opportunities. Ventnor capitalised, firstly with an early try from long range, and later with a score from closer in. Both tries were converted from difficult angles, so IW trailed 14-0 at the break.

After uncontested scrums were requested for the second half, one of IW’s strengths was taken away, but they now had the wind and spent most of the second half in Ventnor territory. Though still guilty of excessive offload attempts, they were taxing the overworked home defence, who were understandably beginning to tire. Rouse Ltd man of the match Alex Smith was a particularly prominent ball-carrier, but replacements Aaron James and Ben Cox also caught the eye. James scored IW’s opening try after 50 minutes, finishing an efficient move out wide.

The eventual winners did not find it easy to overcome the deficit and botched some opportunities, but were beginning to tighten up their play sufficiently, leading to a second try scored by Tom Turtle, another replacement. Now trailing by just four points, IW had the bit between their teeth and after one of their best moves of the game, centre Sam McQueen was freed to crash over out wide. Ventnor roused themselves in an effort to rescue the game, but the IW rearguard were not in the mood to relinquish their advantage and saw out the remaining minutes.

Captain Colman Cotter afterwards reflected on a match that IW felt they should have won by more given their overall control of possession and territory, though they were grateful just to win the spoils considering the half-time deficit. They will hope to follow up in their next game at home to Portsmouth on Saturday.

IW: Greaves, Rogers, McQueen, Brading, J Bishop, Williams, Cotter, Brine, Willetts, M Tanner, Puzey, Harrison, A Wright, Borrer, A Smith. Replacements: James, Cox, Cansdale, Wynyard-Wright, Turtle, Barrett.