Isle of Wight RFC 2XV 21-12 Hook & Odiham RFC
Adding to their five points gained from a walkover in their first fixture, Isle of Wight seconds recorded a super victory in the first game of their Hampshire Three campaign, over a side fancied to be near the top at the end of the season.
The Island seconds fielded their youngest squad in a number of seasons with several debutants, all of whom acquitted themselves well against more experienced and physically bigger opponents. The persistent rain throughout the match probably suited the opposition better, but IW dug in and just deserved the win in the end.
IW started well but found the Hook defence in uncompromising mood, settling for a Luke Margham penalty after 12 minutes to open their account. It became evident as the half went on that this game would not be decided by much as the sides were well matched and struggled to break each other down. Hook did set up field position and went through several phases to touch down for a converted try after 25 minutes.
The period before half-time was dominated by the mainlanders, except for one key spell as IW broke out and gave themselves a scrum in the 22. The ball was worked well to new centre Martin Smith who glided over for the score, giving IW a slender 8-7 lead at the break.
Hook & Odiham had the better of the opening minutes on the resumption and exploited IW indecision to score their second try, now leading 12-8. A home response was needed and they were not to disappoint, competing vigorously on both sides of the ball. Some of the newcomers to particularly impress were George Biles and Rouse Ltd man of the match Matt Spencer-Brading, while the returning Rob Vaughan had a fine performance. The best move of the day gave IW back the lead, as quick ball was generated in Hook territory and brilliant handling gave another debutant, Owain Hooper, just enough room to touch down in the corner.
Now roared on by their supporters and the first team who had arrived from the adjoining pitch, IW could smell victory, but nothing would be earned easily against the gallant visitors. Another Margham penalty afforded the home side a little breathing space and a four-point cushion going into the closing minutes. Finally, in the last minute, Margham picked up a loose ball and sped over in the corner for the insurance score, securing his Biffa man of the match award and ensuring jubilant scenes in the rain.
IW top the league at this early stage, and travel next to US Portsmouth.
IW: Browne, Reed, M Smith, Bettum, Peckham, Margham, Hanson, Turtle, Love, N Joyce, Pudney, Biles, Guy, M Spencer-Brading, Rob Vaughan. Replacements: N Brading, Rich Vaughan, Spence, Hooper, Williams, Elsom.