Romsey 50-14 IW
Isle of Wight RFC started their Hampshire One campaign in disappointing fashion at Romsey. An abject first half showing meant that a much improved second half yielded only pride and some optimism for next week.
Though a number of players were unavailable for this fixture, IW still fielded a strong lineup and the opening 10 minutes were promising, as their scrum was well on top and two penalties were won around halfway. Lewis Murray fell just short with both attempts on goal. Then Romsey gained some quick ball and cut loose, exploiting gaps in IW defence to score the opening try.
The hosts were buoyed while IW appeared to drop their heads for the rest of the first half. Romsey were winning the contact and turning over IW ball far too readily, while IW were giving away a host of penalties. The score stood at 16-0 on the half-hour and IW appeared to be building a promising attack, when they were again turned over and Ryan Stewart was sin-binned for offending after a team warning. Stewart’s absence was seized upon by Romsey, who scored three tries before half-time for a 33-0 lead, constructing some scores well but also profiting from loose IW play and turnovers.
Strong words at half-time had the desired effect, and IW were transformed in the third quarter. Rouse Ltd man of the match Andy Brown was increasingly prominent, while winger James Webster produced an error-free debut. Though Romsey defended their line stoutly, a clearance kick went astray and Andy Rann returned it with interest for a try to break IW’s duck. Murray converted from the touchline and IW were boosted.
Waves of IW attacks now ensued, but some opportunities were not taken until a long spell of pressure saw Ricky Keyes crash over under the posts for a converted try. At 33-14 and with over 20 minutes still to play, an improbable comeback or at least a bonus point or two seemed possible. Crucially, Romsey then gained a foothold and scored their third penalty goal to steady their ship.
The final quarter was full of entertaining rugby, but IW could never recover their momentum fully, and Romsey rediscovered the threat they posed in the first half. As the game grew stretched, they added two tries in the closing minutes, the cherries on top of an encouraging start to their campaign. The Islanders were left to lick their wounds and reflect on how to bounce back at home to Chineham next time out.
IW: Williams, Webster, Stirrup ©, Warvill, Rooney, Murray, Evans, Newnham, Keyes, Tanner, Boulter, Raunigger, Brown, Stewart, A Smith. Replacements: Tucker, Rann, T Turtle.