Second placed Sandown take the spoils
By Ian Brown
Sandown & Shanklin beat us 37 - 22 in a second versus third clash on the Isle of Wight.
Yesterday on a beautiful November day the coach with the 1’s and the supporters on board made the journey across the Forest to Southampton and out over Southampton Water to the Isle of Wight to play Sandown & Shanklin. We have enjoyed close encounters with S & S over the last few seasons and with us having done the league double over them in the last two seasons we knew the “Hurricanes” would be eagerly waiting for us.
With a strong wind blowing down the pitch S & S kicked off with it in their favour and they were immediately on the attack. S & S used their very well drilled pack to march their way down the pitch and this resulted in a converted try after two minutes to make it 7 – 0. The next ten minutes it was all S & S attack countered by brilliant defence from us led by "debutant" scrum half & Man of the Match James "Badger" Greenwood. We broke the sustained home pressure and this resulted in a Craig Stocker unconverted try after 18 minutes from a determined forward drive for the line. The S & S response was immediate with a converted try on 21 minutes followed by an unconverted one on 23 minutes and then a penalty on 28 minutes and suddenly we were 22 - 5 down and facing an uphill battle to get anything out of the game.
We came back with another sortie into the opposition half resulting in a try after 34 minutes from captain Harry Hitchings converted by Jamie Tryska to take it to 22 – 12 but there was a response from S & S a few minutes later with their fourth try to take the half time score to 27 – 12. To get anything out of the game we needed to respond immediately in the second half and we did not disappoint with Mark Hammond powering his way through the home defence with an unconverted try to take the score to 27 – 17. It was now us on almost constant attack for the next twenty minutes with both sides hammering away at each other but a breakaway movement from the home side resulted in a converted try to take the score to 34 – 17 with 15 minutes to go. Both sides were now determined to play open rugby and it was non-stop full action resulting in fourth try for us from Josh Merry to get a bonus point but the gap was too great and the game was finished with an opportunist drop goal from S & S to make the final score 37 – 22. There were exhausted bodies all over the field as the ref blew the whistle for full time in a game that was a great credit to both sides in a very entertaining full on contest – amateur rugby at its very best.
Other results in the division went to form with away wins for Basingstoke over Eastleigh 2’s 64 – 24, Bognor beating Fareham Heathens by 43 - 17 and Millbrook victorious over Tottonians 2’s by 17 - 5.
So we slip to fourth place.
Gosport & Fareham could not raise a side yesterday to play the 2’s in a Hampshire 4 match so we got a 5 points walk over to maintain our second place in the Hampshire 4 league. A friendly was arranged at short notice against an Eastleigh 4’s side, bolstered by a few guests, which resulted in a 53 – 29 win for the 2’s.