Isle of Wight RFC‘s second team opened their Hampshire Two campaign with honourable defeat at Wootton Rec. Now operating in a higher league than ever before, Isle of Wight had to parade a scratch side with many players out of position. However, they more than played their part in an open game featuring 90 points and 14 tries, and threatened a huge shock until falling away in the closing stages.
Chineham RFC had narrowly missed out on promotion the previous season and were warm favourites, but found themselves two tries down inside five minutes, as first Alex Cole and then Cameron Browne touched down for the hosts, Dan Ward converting one. The pattern for the game was now set, as warm sunshine and a firm sod rewarded running rugby, and both attacks were on top for the duration of the game. Chineham soon wiped out the deficit with two tries of their own, and a penalty goal saw them 15-12 up after 20 minutes.
IW fielded some inexperienced new players but also welcomed back some older faces after lengthy absences. Alex Smith was one of the latter, and though in unaccustomed surrounds at fly-half, he was soon on the scoresheet to give IW the lead back, Cole this time converting. Chineham were stung by this, and scored twice before the interval to lead 27-19.
The Basingstoke-based visitors now appeared to have momentum, but Isle of Wight were determined to keep battling and Rouse Ltd man of the match Jayme Bishop finished off a great move to narrow the deficit to three points and secure IW at least a four-try bonus point, though Chineham responded in kind immediately. The home back row of Ian Puzey, Keith Wallace and Alex Hay got through Trojan work, and Hay was next to score, but again Chineham extended their lead.
As the clock entered the final quarter-hour, Smith added his second and IW trailed 39-34. Now sustaining injuries and tiring, the gallant hosts started to fade. Chineham’s excellent fly-half orchestrated another score, followed by a penalty and then a further score which left the Islanders denied a further bonus point for losing by 15 or less, though rather harshly so in view of their contribution to a fine contest. The game did show that IW II can be competitive at this level, especially if a more settled squad can be established.
IW: Ward, C Browne, Cole, Webster, Wynyard-Wright, A Smith, Harley, Davis, Guy, Willetts, J Bishop, Wheale, Puzey, Wallace, Hay. Replacements: Turtle, Metcalfe.
to make use of the extra man and further their lead. The remainder of the first half was frustrating for IWRFC, with missed tackles allowing the home team to use their pace in their preferred conditions, with the score reaching 34-7.
IWRFC had some promising passages of play after half time, with Rouse Ltd man of the match Luke Chandler making several barrelling runs. A quick tap and go penalty in the home 22 led to Biffa man of the match Luke Blackman scoring in the corner.
With the clock running down, IWRFC focussed on trying to secure the four-try bonus point, but came up one short. IW’s third score came from a series of rumbling slow ball phases and Martin Newnham getting his token try of the season.
Isle of Wight have had a difficult start to their league campaign, but arguably now have put their two hardest fixtures of the season behind them. They open their home fixtures this coming Saturday against Romsey RFC, in a bid to secure their first league win. Kick-off at Wootton Rec will be at 3 pm.
Isle of Wight RFC: Blowers, Fitton, Huish, D Blackman, Langdon, Murray, Marriott, Blackburn, McQueen, Newnham, Jones, G Smith, Brown, Chandler, L Blackman. Replacements: Bennett, Hughes.
Match report: Isle of Wight RFC
Isle of Wight RFC