Isle of Wight’s resounding win avenged their defeat in the return fixture last September to finish the season on a high note.
Before a large attendance, the game kicked off in calm but chilly conditions, which allowed both sides to attempt to play with ball in hand. IW’s renowned scrum overpowered their opposition early on and helped to establish territorial dominance for most of the 1st half. Strong driving play by the forwards brought them up to the Ventnor line, before no. 8 Luke Blackman bashed over for the opening try after 8 minutes, converted from the touchline by George Huish.
Ventnor looked threatening when they had good quality possession, but this was rare, and IW’s defence held even when the visitors moved the ball wide. It was all IW at this stage, with Martin Newnham and Keith Wallace prominent, while Tom Marriott was rock solid in defence.
While the forwards provided the platform, the IW backs also looked lively, a Mark Waterer try surprisingly disallowed after a slick move. However, it was not long before IW got their 2nd try, as co-captain Andrew Brown flopped over.
Ventnor incurred a yellow card for an offence while Brown was in the act of scoring, but numbers were soon evened up after replacement Ian Puzey was sin-binned for an illegal tackle. For the first time, Ventnor were able to build some pressure and seemed destined to score, but the home side’s defence held fast and limited the damage, a Crews penalty making the score 12-3 at the break.
Half time: Isle of Wight 12-3 Ventnor
IW might have been further ahead at half-time given their dominant start, but critically they got the next score soon after the break: Biffa man of the match Blackman again crashing over after fluid IW play. The game was now fast and furious, with Ventnor contesting well, and the otherwise excellent IW defence parted for Cardwell-Hill to score a Ventnor try. The conversion struck the post, and IW soon resumed their effective and direct approach.
A great interception by wing Chris Ormerod saw him run 50 metres but was stopped short of the line by an illegal tackle, with Ventnor receiving another yellow card for an infringement at the ensuing breakdown. In the next phase of play, the irrepressible Blackman touched down in the corner to complete his hat-trick. Huish again landed the touchline kick, and IW were set fair at 26-8.
Ventnor tried hard, but IW turned the screw, adept at both their rehearsed plays and more unstructured rugby, resulting in a fine score for player-coach Keith Wallace. Directed by superb half-backs Waterer and Augustus, IW had more opportunities, but waited until the last minute before their 6th try by Huish. The full-back converted his own score, his 4th successful kick of the day
Full time: Isle of Wight 38-8 Ventnor
Isle of Wight: Huish, Jones-Evans, Marriott, White, Rolfe, Waterer, Augustus, Keyes, Bennett, Newnham, D Bishop, Blackburn, Wallace, Brown, Blackman. Replacements: Puzey, McQueen, Ormerod.
Ventnor: Price, Jones (capt), Savill, Teague, Morley, Coghlan, L.Morton, Hill, Malkin, Butler, H.Wheeler, Wyatt, Babington, E.Blake, Crews. Subs: Bell, Collett, Walton, M.Wheeler
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