The Club House, Footways, Wootton Bridge, Ryde PO33 4NQ

Report: 2nds v Stoneham (A), Sat 23 Nov 2019

IW II 12-27 Stoneham

Isle of Wight RFC’s seconds were defeated by visitors Stoneham in a Hampshire Two clash at Wootton Rec. In heavy, muddy conditions, these well matched teams fought out an entertaining encounter in which Stoneham’s excellent defence gave them a slight edge.

The morning rain had abated in time for kickoff but it was always going to be a battle largely decided up front, though both sides did attempt to play expansive rugby when they produced clean ball. Stoneham were the first to stress the opposition defence, being awarded a penalty which was converted to three points in the ninth minute. IW battled back but were undone as Stoneham made a line break, followed by a testing cross kick which bounced favourably for their player to race in for the opening try.

IW were not playing badly and were stringing phases together, but were meeting rock solid defence from the mainlanders, who were playing their best attacking rugby of the 80 minutes and ominously added another try for a 15-0 lead. Yet the home side kept faith and drove at the heart of the Stoneham defence, while also employing some impressive tactical kicking. Such a kick was followed up well by Jacob Wynyard-Wright, and when the ball spilled loose, Rouse man of the match Andy Rann was on hand to touch down for IW’s opening score. Buoyed by this score, IW were straight back on the offensive and worked their way into the 22, before Biffa man of the match Ian Puzey broke a tackle and dragged an opposition player over the line to score a glorious try. Rann converted and IW only trailed 15-12 at halftime.

In the second half, there remained little between the sides, and neither team could establish dominance. IW’s setpieces were under pressure but they had their share of pressure, though Stoneham’s defence was now back in form and gave them the opportunity to set up field position, which they converted to a try to stretch their lead to eight points.

IW again responded, with excellent debuts from Miles Trowell and Louis Herbert, while Rob Sice made a big impact from the bench with some punishing carries. A long spell of IW pressure after the hour mark needed to yield some points, but despite the best efforts of captain Alex Hay who led by example, the hosts got no change from Stoneham who were able to clear their lines. It was the mainlanders who finished in the ascendancy, spending the last five minutes in the IW 22 and scoring a converted try with the last play of the game.

IW, though disappointed to lose, knew that they had played well and again proven they can compete at Hampshire Two level, though victories remain elusive. They travel to Hook & Odiham on 7 December, after a Friday Night Lights event at the club on Friday night 29 November, which is open to all.

IW: Joyce, Trowell, Webster, Rann, Wynyard-Wright, Elsom, Blyth, Puzey, Guy, Davis, Herbert, J Bishop, Groves, Puckett, Hay ©. Replacements: Willetts, Sice.

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