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Report: 1sts v Romsey (H), Sat. 28 Sep. 2019

IW 45-12 Romsey

Isle of Wight RFC put their difficult opening pair of Hampshire One fixtures behind them by returning to home comforts at Wootton Rec, registering a clearcut win over Romsey. A patchy first half gave little indication of what would transpire in the second half, as IW showed what they are capable of with an excellent display of rugby.

Forced to field without injured captain David Blackman, IW welcomed back Alex Smith, Alex Hay and Ed Lynch to first team action after long absences. Cameron Browne made his first team debut on the wing, following in the footsteps of his parents Stuart and Alison, both of whom wore the club colours with distinction. IW had the advantage of a strong diagonal breeze in the first period, but in truth there was little to shout about from either side early on. Romsey opened the scoring early on after some sub-standard home defence, but IW started to settle and edged the territorial battle as the half went on, with a dominant scrum performance. There was no change from the Romsey defence at first, but IW began to play more directly and mauled well at times, forcing a yellow card from an illegal Romsey intervention.

The sinbin period was soon capitalised on by IW, as good driving play led to a try for the influential Smith. Now starting to get on top, IW spent the last five minutes of the half camped on the Romsey line, being held up over the whitewash twice. Eventually, captain Andy Brown crashed over as IW now led 14-7.

Now facing the awkward breeze, it seemed doubtful that a seven point lead was enough of a cushion for the Islanders, but their second half performance rendered the conditions irrelevant. Excellent carrying and offloading by the forwards was replicated by the back division, as passes that previously went to ground or forward began to stick, while support play was markedly improved. Each of the team’s second half tries featured several phases of continuity, the first scored by Rouse Ltd man of the match Martin Newnham, and the second by in-form no. 8 Luke Blackman.

As Romsey faded, Brown added his second try, before the pick of tries came when IW moved the ball from inside their own 22, a sumptuous move being finished by impressive full-back Dan Ward. Lynch put the icing on the cake by marking his return with a score in the closing minutes, though Romsey persisted and were rewarded by closing the scoring. Biffa man of the match Lewis Murray kicked well in the difficult crosswind, landing five conversions in total.

IW will look to kick on after this result, travelling away to Gosport & Fareham II on Saturday, while the seconds host Basingstoke II, kicking off at Wootton Rec at 3 pm.

IW: Ward, C Browne, Fitton, Chandler, Ormerod, Murray, Marriott, Blackburn, Newnham, A Smith, G Smith, Jones, Brown, Lynch, L Blackman. Replacements: Hay, Bennett, Langdon.

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