The Mighty 2nd’s Continue their Rich Vein of Form
The Hurricanes began their final home game of the season with a quick start out of the blocks. Excellent carrying up front from debutante Neil Adcock, and Connor King meant that the home side were on the front foot. This allowed Liam Little to feed fly-half, Jack Sothcott with quick ball to distribute to the centre partnership of Rob Newton Jnr and Matt Jones. Great interplay here and a sublime offload from Jones, found returning Hurricane Will Baxandall, at fullback. Baxandall strode through the defence and after dummying the Pumas fullback, slipped through the defence for the first score of the game. The conversion missed by Farrant, 5 – 0.
This early score only ignited the visitors and they went straight away on the attack from the restart. Using their forwards and their patented “Hammer” move, to pick and go from each breakdown, Pumas were gradually making yards even though they were being chopped low and hard by the Sandown back-row of King, Sayers and Paul Laidler, as well as Jack Winter in the second row. Multiple phases later and having not used their backs at all, Locksheath spun the ball wide, but a fast Sandown defensive press, put the unsuspecting backs under pressure and having not had the ball all game, knocked on with their first few opportunities to play. The strong wind at the back of the Hurricanes, allowed them to clear their lines, and provide them with good field position. The hosts line out functioned well and despite the difficult conditions, provided a strong platform for the home side. A crash ball off a lineout in the opposition 22, saw Rob Newton Jnr slip through the Pumas defensive line and canter towards the far corner. However, after being brought down by a desperate scramble defence, he was supported by his teammates and recycled possession. With quick ball Little and Sothcott shipped the ball blind to Jones, who beat the first defender with his step and fend, to then manage an offload to winger Sam Buckingham, who used his acceleration and strength to explode past the defence, and over the try line. The conversion was expertly converted by Mitch Farrant, 12 – 0.
Locksheath then came back with their forward play and made considerable ground, when they brought their backs into the game. Yet the staunch home defence, stopped the away team from breaking the gain line. Moments later, a scrum five metres out from the Hurricanes try line to Locksheath, no one could stop the powerful, Number 8 from going down the blindside, from the wheeling scrum and reaching over for the first Locksheath points of the day. 12 – 5.
The hosts rallied and went on the offensive again. Following some more sets of great Sandown defending, the home side had a scrum in the opposition 22. After several resets, the ball came in and fired straight out the back of the scrum. Quick thinking from Captain Little, saw him gather and pass the ball to Sothcott, who drew the opposition defence on to him, to create the space and offload to Newton, who then stepped the last defender and breezed through for his first try of the game. Farrant converting, to make it 19 – 5 at the break.
Sandown & Shanklin continued where they left in the first half when the ever-present Dan Sayers carried hard into the heart of the Pumas defence. Followed up by some strong carries by Adcock again and Luke Gales, back in the pack after half a season away. This excellent work by the hosts forward brought them into the Locksheath half, and Hurricanes Man of the Match, Conor King ran an expertly executed line off Sothcott to bisect the visiting defensive line. Then using his impressive pace, sprinted clear to score under the sticks. Farrant converted, and the game was looking to be beyond Locksheath, 26 – 5. This didn’t dampen their efforts, however, as they mustered a clever move in the midfield, off an attacking lineout and got themselves a consolation converted the try, 26 – 12.
The Hurricanes then finished the game in style, when Sayers received the ball from another kick and returned it with interest. After starting from just inside his own half, Newton Jnr went on another run and went the distance to notch up two tries for his own personal tally, 31 – 12. Sadly the game was brought to a premature end after one of the Locksheath players went down injured and an ambulance was called. It was later confirmed after the game, that the player was all clear. A brilliant victory for the 2nd XV who now aim to finish their season unbeaten with three more games remaining. A week off this weekend, but will resume again on the 23rd March, when the Hurricanes make the trip up North to play Farnham RFC 4th XV and look to cement their position in Hampshire 4.