Sandown & Shanklin rack up over 50 points and their 100th league try, with win over rivals New Milton & District RFC.
Sandown & Shanklin welcomed visiting New Milton and District RFC to the Fairway, for the return league of the fixture in the season. Last time out, the Hurricanes picked up an important 18 – 41 victory on the road to today’s visitors. Following last weeks win against Tottonians, the Hurricanes needed to keep the wins coming to remain ahead of Bognor in the fight for 2nd place.
The opening exchanges were physical and intense as both teams explored the opposing defences, attempting to find a breakthrough. New Milton had the better territory, keeping the home side pinned in their 22, with clever kicks and the wind assisting them. Yet, Sandown & Shanklin cleared their lines well and repelled the strong carrying from New Milton. Industrious work by the Hurricanes forwards re-gained them possession in the oppositions half, and this allowed the home side to go into attack. Fly-half Sam Tyson was instrumental in this, varying his attacking play cleverly between kicking in behind the onrushing New Milton defence or finding willing carries outside of him. A penalty allowed Sandown to have a line out just short of the visitors 5-metre line. The resulting maul was held out by the defence, but as the ball was spun wide, Man of the Match, Jack Wedderkop crashed through the defensive line for the opening score. Flux converted and the home side were ahead, 7 – 0.
From the restart hooker Zak Chiverton claimed the ball and made a strong carry in midfield. The ball was then well cleared by scrum-half Jordan, which put the play back into the New Milton half. The resulting line out was claimed by the visitors and possession fed to their fly-half. As he then went to kick the ball downfield, it was well charged down by Ben Shannon and the forwards, for the ball to then drop into the grateful hands of Wedderkop who then sprinted in unopposed for the host’s second score. The conversion just missed, but the home side were in the ascendancy and leading 12 – 0. What followed was another period of pressure from New Milton, as they were camped within the Sandown 22, and trying to find a way through the tough home sides defence. Hard work by the back-row, Hopper, Hunter and Rees kept the visitors at bay, and eventually the forwards managed to turnover possession. This presented an opportunity for Tyson to then make a break and take the Hurricanes up field. After making it into the New Milton half, the visitors defence was soon stretched and with an overlap, the ball came down the back line to Rees, who drew the final defender and presented the opportunity for Hunter to sprint in and score. Flux converted and Sandown were then leading 19 – 0.
Despite the commanding position, the Hurricanes went on the attack again, but a pass from Williams on the wing was telegraphed and the opposition fly-half intercepted and went the distance to put the visitors on the scoreboard. The conversion was missed, but the momentum had swung away from the home side in a period of seconds with a score out of the blue, 19 – 5.
New Milton then came back moments later and were again threatening the Hurricanes 22. They had then found a gap in the defensive line out wide, and then a few phases later, crashed over the try line for their second score, cutting the score line to 19 – 10. Despite the strike back from the away side, the hosts finished the first half with a flourish. After winning back possession in the new Milton half, the Hurricanes set about trying to find their fourth score and the bonus point. Following strong carrying from captain Sam Flux and Ben Shannon, the New Milton defence was soon honey potting around the ruck. This presented the opportunity and the overlap for the backs, and with the ball passed down the line, it soon found its way to fullback, Ben Sanderson, who crashed over for the fourth try. Flux converted the try on the stroke of half time for a 26 – 10 lead at the break.
Sandown & Shanklin restarted the game and had soon reclaimed possession from the kick off. The home side then set about trying to increase their lead and were camped outside the New Milton 22. The New Milton defence was breached with a clever move in the middle of the field between Shannon and Chiverton. As the ball came to Chiverton, he then popped it back to Shannon who cut a clever a line against the grain and managed to sprint in under the posts untouched. Flux converted and the Hurricanes had continued their momentum from the first half.
Following the restart the Hurricanes broke free and were soon back in the New Milton half and threatening another score. This time with the ball moved down the back line into the hands of winger Tom Borrer who went over in the corner. Becoming the 25th different try scorer for the Hurricanes this season. The difficult conversion from the touch line, unfortunately struck the post, but Sandown & Shanklin were now in a commanding 38 – 10 lead.
What came next was another change in the momentum of the game. With the visitors protecting possession better, they were keeping the ball in hand and racking up the phases against the Hurricanes defence, and slowly making their way up the field. The sustained period of pressure from New Milton eventually got them into the Sandown 22, and then a handful of phases later they had scored their third try of the game. Again the conversion unsuccessful for the visitors, the score now 38 – 15.
Despite being the ascendancy the next score came from the home side, following some quick phases in midfield, fly-half Sam Tyson threw a long looping pass which hit the deck. Wedderkop was the quickest to react, by hacking the ball through and picking up the ball to then dot down under the posts for his hat-trick, and another converted try, 45 – 15.
New Milton, got themselves back into the game with their fourth try and securing a point for their efforts. Another period of strong carrying from the visiting forwards saw them again rack up the phases as they worked hard to score the bonus point awarding try. The ball was stolen by the Hurricanes, but after not fully clearing their lines, the resulting New Milton line out was caught cleanly and the maul was driven over for a late unconverted fourth try, 45 – 20.
In spite of the scores from New Milton, this could have deflated the Hurricanes in the last five minutes of the game. However the young side fired back with a quick double salvo in the last few moments. The first coming from winger Owen Williams, who used his pace to out strip the despairing defenders and dot down. Tyson took a quick drop goal conversion which missed, so that the game could continue for the final minute. This was rewarded with one final score by Borrer getting his double. This came about following another period of strong carrying from the Sandown forwards drawing in New Milton defenders and creating gaps out wide. The ball came down the blindside and a creative offload by Williams as he ran out of space and being tackled into touch, found Borrer who had the simple job of dotting the ball down over the try line, racking up the Hurricanes 700th point of the season. The final whistle came and the Hurricanes had notched up an impressive 55 – 20 victory over New Milton RFC.
Director of Rugby Damien Marriott shared his thoughts after the game:
“I was really pleased with the victory and the way we went about it was incredible. The score line may suggest we had it all our own way, but that was never the case. The first quarter New Milton will have felt hard done by conceding early, after having so much of ball and keeping us locked down in our 22. However, our lineout and our defence was brilliant, with youngsters: Harry [Hopper], Damian [Seder], and Zak [Chiverton] stopping everyone that ran at them, was a huge momentum swing. New Milton just couldn’t turn all that pressure into points, as a result of all our hard work. We also got a slice of luck after a charge down try, but sometimes you make your own luck from handwork, and this gave the boys a huge lift to go on and win so convincingly.
To have so many important players missing though injury and still go on to score 55 points, against a team who last season were in London South West 3, just encapsulates the capabilities and the potential this squad has.”
Sandown & Shanklin RFC are back in action next weekend, when they travel to the New Forest to play rivals Fordingbridge RFC. Meanwhile the 2nd XV are at home defending the Fairway, where they welcome Locksheath Pumas RFC 2nd XV. Kick-off is set to be 3.00pm.