The return fixture between Sandown & Shanklin RFC and Basingstoke RFC promised another top-of-the-table clash between 1st and 2nd in Hampshire Premier, as leaders Basingstoke travelled to the Isle of Wight for their first-ever trip to the Fairway in modern times.
The contest started as most would have expected – a very physical and unyielding effort from both sides in the opening exchanges. A penalty was kicked into the corner, and this time a secure maul caught by Sam Rees, was driven over the line and dotted down by Zak Chiverton. Tom Borrer added the conversion for an early 7-0 lead to the hosts.
However, a few phases later, the home side were the ones under pressure, holding out the Basingstoke attack just outside of their 22. After a strong show of defence, and a couple of penalties, the visitors elected to kick a penalty to cut the arrears to 7-3.
This sparked another assault from the Sandown & Shanklin side, and some great inter play between Tyson and Mitchell soon found the Hurricanes back inside Basingstoke territory and threatening their 22. Another infringement from the visitors provided another opportunity for the Hurricanes to kick the ball to touch, and with another strong maul formed by the forwards, they again drove over the Basingstoke try line for Chiverton’s second score of the game, and a 12-3 lead.
With the pressure still coming from the visitors, they had the put in from a 5 metre scrum. Despite perhaps a slight advantage to Sandown & Shanklin in the set piece, the referee awarded a penalty to Basingstoke, with their number 8 taking the quick tap and driving his way over the line for the visitors first try, the conversion missed, the Hurricanes were still leading 12-8, but their rivals were very much in the ascendancy.
Excellent tackling from flankers Harry Hopper and Henry Bagnall were keeping the visitors at bay, although only a handful of penalties were keeping the Basingstoke side in the Sandown half. Yet, this was enough for the away side, as they managed to score in the corner in the last few moments of the first half, and a tricky conversion missed, this meant that at the half time break the away side led 12-13.
Following the half time break, with the physicality of the game starting to take its toll, Zak Chiverton was adjudged to lift his tackle through the horizontal and was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes. This period would turn out costly for the home side, as Basingstoke barged their way over the Hurricanes try line. With the conversion, Basingstoke now had an eight-point cushion with over twenty minutes left to play.
Then several forward phases crept the Hurricanes up to the Basingstoke try line, and one final charge from the man of the match Ben Shannon saw him go over try line, but was held up by the visitor’s defenders to prevent the try. The following scrum was held out by Basingstoke, and the Sandown forwards again set about trying to find a way through the opposition defensive line.
After a sustained period of battering the Basingstoke try line, and stretching the defence from one side to the next. Swift hands from the Hurricanes backline found Chiverton out wide for his hat-trick. This narrowed the score to 17-20 in the final moments of the game, yet try as they might, it was just a little too late for the home side to overcome the league leaders.
Sandown & Shanklin RFC 17 – 20 Basingstoke RFC
The full match report can be found on the Sandown & Shanklin RFC website.