Isle of Wight RFC succumbed to joint league leaders Alton in perhaps the worst conditions in recent memory at Wootton Rec. The combination of low temperatures, persistent rain, slippery turf and high winds tested the resolve of players and spectators alike, and made the exchanges something of a lottery at times. However, there was no denying that the mainlanders deserved their win thanks to a dominant second-half showing.
With the considerable wind advantage in the first half, IW knew they would need to establish a buffer by half-time, but the first 15 minutes saw both teams struggle to impose themselves. As the half wore on, the home side took over territorially and put together some good phases of play, though ball retention was a tremendous challenge all afternoon. Crucially, Alton’s defence bent but did not break during this period, yielding only two penalties within kicking distance, both of which were accurately steered through by Lewis Murray. Isle of Wight led 6-0 at the break.
It seemed likely that this lead was insufficient, and so it proved as Alton wiped it outside three minutes of the restart with a series of drives and a try under the posts to lead 7-6. Inevitably, Alton
As conditions deteriorated, Alton took over and exploited miscommunication in the Isle of Wight rearguard to score twice in quick succession. Belatedly, Isle of Wight made some inroads with strong carries by Grant Smith and Sam McQueen, before the latter burst over for a try after some great combination play. It proved no more than a consolation, Alton having the final word after a well-placed kick through caused confusion for the Isle of Wight cover.
Both sets of players were applauded by the spectators for enduring such dreadful weather and completing the 80 minutes. An IWIsle of Wight C
Isle of Wight: Grant, Hooper, Rann, Chandler, Ormerod, Murray, Marriott, Puzey, McQueen, Newnham, GSmith, Raunigger, L Blackman, D Blackman, Andy Brown. Reps: A Groves, Augustus, Blackburn.