Isle of Wight RFC’s second team tightened their grip on Hampshire Three after their toughest test to date at Lymington.
The home side had a much more sizeable pack, with each Islander giving away several stone in weight to his opposition, which took its toll on the Isle of Wight side. Tom Love was forced from the field early on, and the Mariners attacked the fringes of rucks and mauls with great effect, scoring the opening try after just 3 minutes.
IW looked to have their work cut out, but their response was almost immediate. Debutant Ed Binham and captain Matt Hallam made the dents in the centre of the field, before ever impressive Biffa Man of the Match Luke Margham kicked through and chased to score the Islanders’ opening try, levelling the scores.
The remainder of the half was dominated by the hosts, forcing IW to tackle extremely well to keep them at bay, though Binham and Sam Jones both incurred yellow cards during this period. Lymington did score once before half-time, taking a 10-5 lead into the break.
After a few strong words and an adjustment to the game plan, IW started the second half meaning business, gaining parity in the scrums and using their superior backs. Replacement no. 8 Andy White set the tone, barrelling over despite the attention of four defenders, and Margham’s conversion gave IW the lead. The brilliance of the latter and his backline was now coming to the fore, and two quick tries from the centre saw IW lead 26-10 and seemingly home and dry.
Lymington were not finished, and helped by the loss of front row powerhouse James Curran, scored from close range to narrow the gap to nine points, with eight minutes remaining. With their tails up, Mariners then almost scored again, but Margham crucially intercepted and raced clear for the clinching score, bringing his personal tally to 26 points. The home side did have the final say with a converted try as time expired, but IW were able to celebrate a hard earned victory.
The Island will defend their 100% record against visiting Alresford II at Wootton Rec this Saturday.
Lymington Mariners 24 – 31 Isle of Wight II
Isle of Wight II: Curran, Love, Davey, Harrison, Jones, T Groves, Guy, A Groves, Hanson, Binham, Hooper, Margham, Hallam, Peckham, Huish. Replacements: Willetts, Bettum, White, Elsom, Blowers, Biles.
Report by Dean Jennings