IW II 5-41 Havant III
Isle of Wight seconds were well beaten by visitors Havant in a Hampshire Two encounter at windy and wet Wootton Rec. Havant had won the Hampshire Two title the previous season, but exercised their right to decline promotion. With IW inhabiting the lower end of the table, this result was not unexpected, but the score does scant justice to the efforts of a gallant home outfit.
Both teams are to be complimented on their efforts considering the dreadful conditions to be endured for the 80 minutes, with persistent rain and a strong wind blowing straight down the pitch. The depleted hosts faced the wind in the first half and rarely exited their own half for the entire period, but defended the waves of opposition attack admirably, with youngsters Tom Groves and Rouse man of the match Jake Puckett standing out by compiling a high tackle count. Still, Havant opened the scoring after 8 minutes, and when they added a second try soon afterwards, matters appeared bleak for the Islanders.
It was difficult for either side to maintain possession or continuity in the conditions, and Havant had to be patient but forced their way over for a third try after 30 minutes. IW then entered the opposition half and constructed one of the best moves of the match, as good handling by Nathan Tombleson and Biffa man of the match Andi Raunigger was finished off by Michael Cooper.
IW trailed 15-5 at the break, but with the wind behind them in the second half, were optimistic that they could record a shock victory. However, Havant had other ideas, bringing on a couple of very effective replacements who would change the course of the match. The victors also played exemplary rugby into the wind, spending more time in IW territory than expected and scoring their fourth try early in the half to lead 20-5.
The score remained thus for a lengthy spell before a turning point ended the game as a contest, as IW set up camp on the Havant line and were close to scoring. Excellent Havant defence turned possession over and saw them break clear, before their replacement wing showed his pace to kick through and score. IW tried to the end but Havant now had their tails up and showed their ability in scoring two further tries in the closing minutes.
IW were not despondent on the final whistle as they had given a good account of themselves and stayed in the game for 65 minutes. Also, James Bradshaw and Nick Blyth showed up well on debut. The seconds are next in action on 9 November, away to Southsea Nomads.
IW: Cooper, Hooper, Sayers, Hallam ©, Wynyard-Wright, Elsom, Harley, Davis, Pettifer, Tombleson, Bradshaw, J Bishop, T Groves, Puckett, Raunigger. Replacements: Guy, Peckham, Blyth.