Isle of Wight 32-14 Southampton University Hospitals
Having lost by over 30 points to the Hospitals earlier in the season, the Island produced a controlled and focussed performance to overturn that loss and come away with a win and bonus point, starting 2020 in style.
From the off the Isle of Wight forwards, playing up the slope and into the strong breeze, took the play to the visitors with a display of strong carrying and close support. Almost immediately this was rewarded as line pressure saw Kevin Blackburn ground the ball for his maiden try for the club. Lewis Murray added the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
Continuing the forward pressure, with support from combative centres Luke Blackman and Rouse man of the match Andrew Brown, a quickly taken penalty 5 metres out allowed Martin Newnham to score, again Murray adding the conversion. With this the Hospitals rallied and, running the ball, pulled a try back to halve the deficit. Despite both sides having opportunities, strong tackling, led by Biffa Man of the Match Jake Puckett, prevented any other scores before half time. IW led 14-7 at the short whistle.
With the one try lead, the home side knew they had to pin back the visitors and come away with points from each attack in to the Hospitals 22. Gary Warvill made sure the lead was stretched with two penalties. But the Hospitals then managed to break the shackles of the home side and broke out to score a converted try, now only trailing 20-14.
Continuing to play a pressure game, the front row celebrated all three scoring tries as hooker Dan Tennant grounded. Now chasing the bonus point try, after some strong tackling and covering from Cameron Browne and Fountain Inn man of the match Harri Jones-Evans on debut, further pressure ensued from IW’s dominant scrum. Winger James Webster scored under the posts, Warvill converting for a well deserved 32-14 victory.
Saturday sees the Islanders travel to the mainland, 1sts to play Romsey and 2nds to play Winchester 2s.
IWRFC: G Warvill, C Browne, A Brown ©, L Blackman, J Webster, L Murray, T Marriott, A Hay, J Puckett, A Raunigger, N Joyce, G Smith, M Newnham, D Tennant, K Blackburn. H Jones-Evans, E Lynch.