Kingsclere 5-21 IW II
Isle of Wight RFC’s second team maintained their blemish-free Hampshire Three campaign with a hard earned win at Kingsclere. In a scrappy game where defences dominated, two great team tries and an individual score were needed to secure the points.
Travelling with only 16 players owing to unavailability of some regulars, IW knew they needed a strong start after a long journey and losing the toss, therefore playing into the wind for the first 40 minutes. As for most of the game, Kingsclere had the majority of possession and used it by playing a direct, ball-in-hand style which forced the Islanders to defend for long periods, though importantly outside their own 22. The victory would be built on this supreme rearguard action, with very few tackles being missed throughout the 80 minutes. Though all the team contributed to this effort, the 93 year old centre partnership of Andy White and Ross Edmonds were particularly busy in defence, as was second row Neil Harrison.
IW were under pressure in the scrums but looked threatening when in possession, and broke the deadlock shortly after the 20 minute mark. A stunning line break by prop Karl Davey was carried on by an audacious behind-the-back pass by George Biles, before Luke Margham supported to score in the corner and add the conversion. The home team replied soon afterwards by kicking a penalty to within five metres of the IW line, and crashing over after a number of phases. The conversion was narrowly wide and IW led 7-5 at the break.
With wind advantage in the second half, the Islanders had more favourable territory but there was still little between the sides, with rain showers causing some issues. IW did not help themselves by some sloppy lineout play, giving Biffa man of the day Harry Elsom some difficult moments at scrum-half. However, it was from clean lineout ball that IW scored their critical second try. The ball was moved swiftly wide to captain Matt Hallam who sped down his wing and flung a pass inside, fielded by Margham who touched down. IW now led by two scores after the successful conversion.
Kingsclere still had time to come back but IW, in spite of several players carrying knocks, were resolute and repelled all attacks. Eventually they were grateful to the irrepressible Margham, who kicked through a loose ball and was fastest to re-gather and touch down, securing himself the Rouse Ltd man of the match award. IW celebrated another good win which they had to work for, and now look forward to a big home game on 9 February against one of their nearest chasers, Lymington Mariners. Manager Dean Jennings said: “We didn’t play our best rugby today but defensively the lads were superb. We’ll need all that heart and more in our next few games.”
IW: Leahy, Blowers, Edmonds, White, Hallam ©, Margham, Elsom, Metcalfe, Wilson, Davey, Harrison, Biles, T Groves, Bettum, N Joyce, Jones.