Ventnor 8-29 Isle of Wight
The tone was set for the season as Isle of Wight travelled to Ventnor, to open the 2019/2020 campaign with a Hampshire Plate quarter-final local derby. Both sides were making their competitive bow for the season before the Hampshire One league fixtures commenced. IW gave first team debuts to Karl Davey and Alex Cole, members of last season’s stellar second team, while Dan Ward returned to action after a year away travelling.
As expected, the match was physical from the first whistle, with the possession switching from team to team. An early penalty in front of the posts gave Lewis Murray a chance to open the scoring, successfully kicking for 3 points. Ventnor were awakened by their mistake and made a continuous charge for the IW try line. Despite some notable defensive work, one penalty too many saw Biffa man of the match Andrew Brown sent to the sinbin. Several phases later, Ventnor used the extra man to go wide and score a try to lead 5-3.
Happy with the damage limitation during the sin bin, IW turned the screw and began building pressure. After a series of phases, a quick pick and go saw Luke Blackman score the first of his two tries. Now, several infringements from Ventnor and the confident kicking of Murray meant IW built a comfortable lead, and only allowing Ventnor to score a further 3 points meant victory was in sight.
As the second half progressed, IW extended their lead further. Thanks to the quick hands of Rouse man of the match Tom Marriott, the ball was moved swiftly from breakdown to breakdown, allowing Blackman to score his second try of the day. IW were put to one last test before the final whistle, but the reliability of the front 8 meant the ball was safe for the remaining minutes, securing victory for the away team.
Though conscious of room for improvement in their performance, IW were pleased to begin the season proper with an away win and progression to a cup semi-final, under new captain David Blackman. They travel to Chichester II for their first league match of the season on Saturday.
IW: Huish, Ward, Cole, D Blackman ©, Ormerod, Murray, Marriott, Blackburn, Newnham, Davey, Pudney, Smith, Brown, Chandler, L Blackman. Replacements: McQueen, Warvill, Webster.