Report: 1sts v Sandown & Shanklin (H), Sat. 12 Mar. 2016

IW 14 Sandown & Shanklin 29

The second Hampshire One Island derby of the season yielded a clearcut victory for Sandown & Shanklin in a sporting and well contested match played in glorious conditions at Wootton Rec. Though IW had their moments and played plenty of good rugby, Sandown were deserving winners thanks to their more consistent cutting edge and crucial superiority at the breakdown.

A large crowd gathered to watch this eagerly awaited encounter, postponed from January owing to waterlogging. Sandown forced the pace from the off but there was little to choose between the sides in the opening minutes, until a slick backline move exploited a dog-leg in the IW defence and led to a converted try to open the scoring. IW’s reaction was swift, as Rouse Ltd man of the match Ramsay Lind made a scything break before passing to wing Mike Wood to finish. The conversion by Gary Warvill, playing his first match of the season due to injury to regular no. 10 Harry Dye, levelled matters at 7-7 after 12 minutes.

A pattern of sorts now emerged, as both teams settled into the game. Sandown edged territory on the whole and taxed the IW defence, which was sturdy for the rest of the half but did give up two kickable penalties. The first of these was capitalised on to give Sandown back the lead. A feature of the whole game was Sandown’s vigorous competition for IW ball at the tackle area, which  yielded a number of turnovers and penalties throughout. Yet Sandown’s second try came about in unusual circumstances, as a rather laboured IW backs move ended with a blocked down kick. The bounce favoured Sandown who were able to run the loose ball back in for a converted try, a crucial score in the context of the game, leading to a 17-7 half-time scoreline.

On the run of play, IW felt somewhat aggrieved at being ten points behind but felt more than able to rescue the situation. Credit then to Sandown, who played some of their best rugby in the third quarter, moving the ball wide with accuracy and finding gaps in the home defence. They scored two tries (one converted) before the 60 minute mark, leaving IW with too much of a hill to climb.

IW were nothing if not spirited, and led by captain Dan Stirrup, mounted a concerted spell of pressure on the Sandown line. Their scrum had been rampant throughout the match and forced a series of penalties in opposition territory. Yet the winners’ defence was determined, and IW were held up when they did get over the line. Sandown cleared their lines and were close to adding to their tally, but met with similarly staunch IW defence. As time elapsed, IW showed that they too could play with width, launching a multi-phase attack which ended with replacement wing Sam Spencer-Brading stepping through two tacklers for a fine try. Warvill’s touchline conversion was on the mark and was the final act of an entertaining tussle. Sandown were unquestionably superior, but IW will draw positives from aspects of their performance, and remain confident of picking up the win in the coming weeks that would probably guarantee their Hampshire One status next season.

IW: Stirrup ©, Wood, Lind, Vann, Rann, Warvill, Evans, Puzey, Tennant, Newnham, A Smith, Boulter, Brown, Hay, Stewart. Replacements: M Tanner, James, Spencer-Brading.