Report: 2nds v Alresford (H), Sat. 15 Oct. 2016

IW II 27-26 Alresford II

In the proverbial game of two halves, Isle of Wight RFC’s second team held on for a hard earned victory over table toppers Alresford. A stunning opening 25 minutes had IW anticipating a cricket score, but the second half told a different tale and the minimum was between the sides at the final whistle.

IW started strongly, carrying directly and playing at pace. They would dominate the scrums for the whole game; in contrast, the lineout was a less reliable source of possession. Though an early try was chalked off when the referee adjudged the final pass to be forward, they were soon on the scoreboard as Tom Turtle scored after good work by Chris Williams. A second score soon followed, as Alex Smith crashed over, and Lewis Murray added the conversion.

Alresford worked hard to get into the game, but were struggling to attain field position against the wind, and IW made them pay. Flanker and Rouse Ltd man of the match Louis Morton stood out on debut, while Grant Smith and stand-in captain Andi Raunigger were prominent in the tight exchanges. Further tries by Raunigger and Sam McQueen extended the lead, and though Alresford managed a penalty to open their account, Turtle’s second try saw IW leading 27-3 at half-time.

The second half essentially mirrored the first, except that while Alresford had some time in IW territory during the opening 40 minutes, IW had great difficulty doing the same in return. The home side were guilty of failing to exit efficiently when they got the opportunity, and at times also played too loosely in their own half. However, most credit for the turn-around goes to Alresford, who showed determination and belief from an unpromising position. The best feature of IW’s second half was their defence, which absorbed plenty of pressure. The home side were repeatedly penalised though, Alresford generally opting to kick at goal with mixed success; they struck the post once and missed another, but also landed two to make the score 27-9 after 55 minutes.

IW remained pinned back as the wind strengthened and rain began to pour down, and eventually conceded a converted try out wide to a quick Alresford back. When an overthrown lineout was pounced on gleefully by the visitors, they were within a score, and their fourth penalty goal with five minutes remaining trimmed the gap to one point. Belatedly, IW roused themselves and spent most of the last few minutes on the attack, crucially out of their own half. The end of the game was greeted with relief by the hosts, but the victory was merited based on a try count of 5-2 in the winners’ favour. IW reflected on a good result in the end, against previously unbeaten opposition, and climb the table ahead of a trip to Farnborough next time out.

IW: Harley, Wilson, McQueen, Brown, T Turtle, Murray, Williams, G Smith, Keyes, Newnham, D Bishop, J Bishop, Raunigger ©, Morton, A Smith. Reps: Stewart, Harrison, Love.