Hurricanes Pick up Impressive Victory on the Road
Sandown & Shanklin travelled to the North West of the New Forest to play Fordingbridge RFC in their fourth to last league game of the 2018/19 season. Fordingbridge have always been a tough nut to crack for the Hurricanes, only defeating them twice in the last eight fixtures over the past four seasons. With the visitors on the play-off trail and needing a victory to maintain their lead ahead of Bognor, a lot was riding on this important fixture.
In a tense opening ten minutes the hosts got off to the better start. Keeping hold of possession and testing the defence, they were awarded a penalty and kicked to the corner. The following catch and drive from the line out was initially held out, but a few drives later and the home side were over for the opening score, 5 – 0.
From the restart, the Hurricanes were able to recover possession and began their own stint of attacking the Fordingbridge defensive line. In a sustained period of pressure, they made good headway, and were awarded a penalty. Flux elected to kick for the posts, but his kick drifting just wide of the posts. Yet, from the 22 metre drop out, the visitors were soon back in the hosts 22 and threatening their try line. Some excellent carrying from Flux, Chiverton and Shannon, got the Hurricanes on the front foot and provided their back line with quick ball. With the ball then spun wide by Jordan, Tyson and Mitchell, they found Jack Wedderkop who darted through a hole in the defence and rounded the full back to score Sandown’s first try of the afternoon. Flux converted to also give them the lead after 15 minutes, 5 – 7.
Another sustained period of pressure, between the two teams, before Man of the Match, Matt Miselbach scored off the back another strong Sandown & Shanklin catch and drive, Flux converted to increase their margin, 5 – 14.
The visitors struck again almost instantaneously, with Flux catching superbly from the restart, play went down the blindside and some clever handling sent Number 8, Harrison Booth free. Booth then did brilliantly to out sprint the defence and wrestle his way to try line despite the scramble tackle from the Fordingbrigde full back. This time the conversion was wide, but the Hurricanes double salvo mean that momentum had swung firmly in their favour, 5 – 19.
The Hurricanes continued their pressure for the remainder of the half, and finished with a flourish, as Man of the Match Jack Wedderkop picked up his second of the game, on the stroke of half time. Off the back of some great play in midfield, where Matt Miselbach again punched a hole in midfield, he coolly fed replacement Sam Branston, who then sprinted into the 22, but was held up just short of the try line. As the ball came out, Wedderkop threatened to offload, and the would-be tackler let go of him, to allow him to burst through and score. Flux converted, providing Sandown with an imposing 5 – 26 lead at the half-time break.
After the interval the home side came out from the break the determined to find a way back into the game. A sustained period of attacking pressure was held back by the Hurricanes for around ten minutes, yet they could not avoid the ball being spun wide and the opposition winger squeezed in by the corner. The conversion slid wide, but it was clear that Fordingbridge were not going to go quietly. Despite claiming the ball off the restart, through Chiverton, Sandown could not make the possession or territory stick, with a string of penalties allowing the home side easy territory. Then after a valiant period of defending from the Hurricanes, Fordingbridge eventually barged their way over the try line, with a pick and go, over the try line, 17 – 26.
In spite of the momentum of the home side, Sandown & Shanklin soon managed to get themselves a platform in the game, with the introduction of Henry Bagnall in the front row, the scrums were settled and the line out tightened up. Following a forward phases in the midfield, the ball went wide and winger Owen Williams rounded the Fordingbridge winger to sprint away down the touch line. With the opposition fullback lining Williams up for the tackle, Sanderson supported his winger well and was the grateful receiver of the pass from Williams to sprint in under the posts unopposed. Flux converted, and the Hurricanes had increased the margin again, 17 – 33.
In the final moments of the game, Sandown put the cherry on the top of the cake with one final try. Another Flux carry in midfield created quick ball for the backs, and the halfbacks spun the ball wide. Wedderkop again broke the defensive line, and with defenders chasing back to catch the rampaging centre, he found his centre partner Tyson, to provide him with an easy run in under the posts, and to also avoid getting a hat-trick and the jugs (heinous!). Flux converted, 17 – 40, followed by the final whistle. The Hurricanes celebrated an important and hard fought victory, against a strong Fordingbridge side.
Director of Rugby Damien Marriott was pleased with the result:
“I’m really proud of the boys. We got back into the game extremely well, after the early score,, but it was how we did it, was the pleasing aspect of it. We put a lot of energy into the game. You look at Fordingbridge and what they can bring and what they have done too. Being able to score over 700 points in this league we knew we had to be at our very best, and it was all about the mental preparation for us. Especially when you consider someone like Matt Miselbach, who before the game looked on deaths door, he was excellent through out. We kept and held our belief in our game, and the pack were unstoppable.”
The Hurricanes now have a week off, before heading into their last three fixtures of the season, Gosport & Fareham RFC 2nd XV at home on the 23rd March, Alresford RFC at home on the 30th March, and then away to Portsmouth RFC 2nd XV on Saturday 6th April. Three wins will secure 2nd place in Hampshire Premier, and the playoff spot to then play the 2nd placed Surrey 1 team, for the opportunity to be promoted into London South West 3, for the 2019/20 season.
The Clubhouse will be showing the Super Saturday of Six Nations rugby, from 12.30pm, and also the annual Kicking Cup will be contested from 1.00pm.