Report: 2nds v Portsmouth (A), Sat. 5 Dec. 2015

Portsmouth IV 22 IW II 39

The Isle of Wight second team broke a three game losing streak with a merited victory at Hilsea. Travelling with the bare 15, IW overcame injuries during the game to emerge victorious.

With a very brief warmup due to travel issues, IW faced the strong breeze in the opening half, but started like a whirlwind, taking the game to the opposition and scoring inside the first few minutes. The forward pack drove at the heart of the Portsmouth pack, before swift hands allowed Ricky Keyes to crash over. This pattern was repeated soon afterwards as IW ran the ball from deep, Tom Turtle this time the scorer. Keyes converted both, and IW had the ideal start.

As the half progressed, Portsmouth settled and had more territory. IW defence was by and large equal to the task, though an efficient rolling maul was their undoing and yielded the hosts’ initial score. Back came IW, carrying numerous threats and engineering another try for Keyes, again converted.

The period either side of half-time was by far IW’s poorest, as they perhaps felt the job was done and neglected their primary duties. Credit was of course also due to Portsmouth, who were direct and exploited IW slackness for a score on the stroke of half-time. IW led 21-10 at this stage.

Matters took a worrying turn at this stage, as highly impressive debutant fullback Harri Wavell was forced off with a neck injury, while other IW players sustained knocks and were forced to play on due to lack of alternatives. Portsmouth took advantage and scored a good try, converted to narrow the gap to four points. Meanwhile, the dominant IW scrum was depowered when a Portsmouth injury forced uncontested scrums for the remainder of the match.

It was to IW’s credit that they now raised their game. Rouse Ltd man of the match Ashley Wright made hay at the breakdown, and former player Jason Corney was prominent in the engine room. Debutants Adan Wilson and Chris Cansdale also showed up well. A period of pressure was rewarded when Keyes rumbled over by the corner flag for his hat-trick. After some stalemate, IW then scored one of their best tries courtesy of a series of phases, crowned by a Sam McQueen break.

Portsmouth were not finished, breaking through for another try to keep the game alive. However, IW were now controlling territory and earned a penalty, kicked expertly from the ten-metre line by the influential Alex Smith, whose carrying was a thorn in the hosts’ side throughout. Finishing strongly, the superb Wright broke through for IW’s sixth try in the closing minutes, copper-fastening a good win, IW’s first away victory of the season.

IW: Wavell, Wynyard-Wright, McQueen, Turtle, Cansdale, Cotter, Leahy, G Smith, Love, Keyes, Corney, Greedy, A Wilson, A Wright, A Smith.