IW II 8-8 New Milton & District II
In their first home game for some time, Isle of Wight RFC’s second team battled out a hard-fought draw at Wootton Rec. IW probably entered this Hampshire Two basement battle as slight favourites, but paraded an understrength lineup and did well to earn a share of the spoils.
The strong gusty wind blowing straight down the pitch made the basics of kicking, catching and passing difficult for both sides, and IW played into it in the first half. In fact, both teams played their best rugby into the wind. New Milton completely dominated territory for the first 30 minutes, spending a large proportion of that in the IW 22, but meeting with exceptional defence from the determined hosts. Captain and Fountain Inn man of the match Ian Puzey led by example while Biffa man of the match Adam Peckham defended impeccably on his return to action.
Eventually, after IW thwarted a driving maul close to the line, New Milton were able to recycle and squeeze over for a try which their territory deserved. IW’s retort was impressive, as they began to dominate the lineouts and breakdown, and enjoyed some territory of their own. With Chris Williams kicking well to give IW access to the 22, IW were able to disrupt a New Milton throw-in, and Puzey was quickest to the loose ball to score. The score read 5-5 at half-time.
Now with wind advantage and momentum, IW seemed strong favourites to go on and win. They retained this momentum on the resumption, applying strong pressure to the New Milton line but being repelled by the mainlanders, who replicated the determined effort of the hosts in the first half. Williams also attempted a penalty goal which was just off target. Despite the best efforts of Rouse man of the match Nick Blyth and father and son back row combination Adam and Tom Groves, IW found it difficult to achieve continuity and the game became as even as the scoreline.
As the game entered the last 15 minutes, New Milton were awarded a penalty which was expertly steered between the posts and gave them an unlikely lead. IW fought back and were awarded a kickable penalty of their own. Williams was accurate on this occasion and the scores were level again. There was still time for New Milton to be awarded another penalty in the last minute, from the same position as the previous successful effort. This time, the kick tailed off and the final whistle followed shortly afterwards.
While both sides lamented missed opportunities, they had enjoyed a sporting and hard-fought encounter and agreed that a draw was probably the fairest result. IW IIs are away to Winchester on Saturday next.
IW: Leahy, Wynyard-Wright, Hooper, Peckham, Greaves, Williams, Blyth, Herbert, Davis, Willetts, D Bishop, J Bishop, Puzey ©, T Groves, A Groves.