Report: 1sts v Ellingham & Ringwood (H), Sat. 20 Feb. 2016

IW 22 Ellingham & Ringwood 12

Isle of Wight RFC recorded a valuable Hampshire One victory at Wootton Rec, enabling them to leapfrog their opponents into eighth place with the hope of further wins to come in the coming weeks. Though not performing at the heights of their recent home win over Fordingbridge, IW played enough constructive rugby to merit their win.

Conditions were difficult for both sides, as rain fell shortly before kickoff and for a time during the first half, but there was plenty of continuity for the supporters to enjoy. IW had the strong wind at their backs for the first forty minutes and knew they would have to make this advantage count. They started well and showed the capacity to stretch the visiting defence left and right, eventually yielding a seventh minute try for winger Andy Rann in the corner. E & R’s response was swift, mauling a lineout catch close to the IW line before one of their players broke off for the touchdown. This try was cheaply given up from a home point of view, and the conversion left IW behind 7-5.

With wise use of the breeze, IW spent most of the rest of the half in enemy territory. They mixed some great direct carries and offloading with an annoying tendency to mess up the final pass, which meant that several opportunities to score were not taken. Nevertheless, they regained the lead with a similar try to the opposition effort, mauling well before scrum-half Brett Evans sniped over from close range. This was soon followed with a third try, as the forwards drove well to open up the full width of the pitch to their backs, who gratefully used the space and allowed Chris Williams to score in the left corner. IW could have scored more, but had to settle for a 15-7 lead at the break.

Opinion was divided on whether this lead was enough in the light of having to face the wind in the second half, but IW played their best rugby in the third quarter and effectively secured victory. They spent all of this period in E & R’s half, thanks in part to a hugely effective scrum performance. Half-backs Evans and Harry Dye orchestrated matters expertly, while debutant Ramsay Lind and Rouse Ltd man of the match Alex Hay particularly caught the eye. After opting from a scrum from a close-range penalty, an eight-man shove allowed no. 8 Ryan Stewart to touch down. Dye converted for a 22-7 advantage.

IW did not build on this lead as they would have liked, though this fourth try ensured a bonus point with half an hour still to play. The visiting defence dug in well and repelled the home efforts, before the pendulum swung – the last ten minutes plus a similar amount of injury time were played in the IW half as E & R sought a way back into the game, or at least a bonus point. They scored a good try as normal time elapsed, and threatened to add another but were met by better resistance from IW to see the game out.

This win moves IW further from the relegation places and they will now be training their sights on seventh-place Farnborough. Next week sees a re-arranged game at Bognor.

IW: Stirrup ©, Rann, Lind, Murray, Williams, Dye, Evans, Puzey, Tennant, Newnham, A Smith, Boulter, Brown, Hay, Stewart. Replacements: M Tanner, James, Tucker.