Before the game, the Isle of Wight side presented a framed shirt and a cheque to Ventnor to commemorate the late Mike Walker. A minute’s silence was held in remembrance of those who had passed away since the pandemic began.
Both sides started nervously, missing penalty kicks in the early stages with Ventnor’s effort notably bouncing off both posts. Ventnor opened the scoring with a Tom Crews penalty in the 9th minute (3-0) and appeared in control of the game. Andrew Teague then scored a well-worked try between the posts in the 20th minute, which was converted by Crews (10-0). Ventnor continued to dominate for the remainder of the 1st half but without troubling the scorers further.
HT: Ventnor 10-0 Isle of Wight
Whereas the 1st half was bossed by the home side, the 2nd half was an even and exciting contest, which saw a total of 7 tries scored. Sam Lines was the first to go over the line for Ventnor, to extend their lead to 15 points (15-0). Tom Cruise converted the try and then scored a penalty (20-0)
Isle of Wight replied through a Luke Blackman try, which Gary Warvill converted from the touchline to give the away side hope (20-7).
Ian Bennett was yellow carded for the visitors after the red mist briefly descended. Isle of Wight then edged closer to the home side when a surprise tap penalty allowed Blackman to send Ed Lynch over. The conversion brought IW within 6 points (20-14), and a remarkable comeback seemed in the offing, especially as the opposition now also had a player in the bin.
Ventnor’s riposte was quick and crucial to the outcome. Sam Lines scored a try in the corner to extend the margin (27-14), before IW were turned over in attack and failed to deal with the loose ball, Paul Berry winning the race to touch down and extend Ventnor’s lead to 32-14 with just 10 minutes left.
IW now had little but pride to play for and, to their credit, kept heads up and finished strongly. Warvill made a scything breakthrough several defenders for a great try (32-19), and, as time expired, his team were again on the attack with Andrew Brown and Dan Stirrup prominent, forcing the hosts to concede a series of penalties. Eventually, the exceptional performance of Luke Blackman was rewarded with his second try under the posts (32-24), which was the team’s fourth and earned IW a bonus point. Warvill’s conversion (32-26), followed by the final whistle, secured them a second bonus point for losing by less than 7 points. Yet they had to concede the overall spoils; Ventnor were deserving winners for their dominant display in the opening 50 minutes.
FT: Ventnor 32-26 Isle of Wight
Ventnor: Savill, Jones, H. Marsh, Teague, Magnurson, Morton, Hill, Bell, Malkin, Butler, Blake, Lines, Berry, Finan, Crews Replacements: Pratt, Edwards, Turner, D.Marsh, Fox, Harris
IW: Warvill, M Joyce, Stirrup, D Blackman, C Browne, Marriott, Elsom, Blackburn, Bennett, Newnham, Brown, Cameron, Wallace, Lynch, L Blackman. Replacements: Keyes, Rann, Tennant.
Isle of Wight will take some positives from the defeat and target victory at home on Saturday (25th September), when they host Portsmouth II at Wootton Rec. Ventnor cross the Solent to play United Services Portsmouth on the same day.
In the Hampshire Premier, Isle of Wight Hurricanes had their game against Bognor postponed due to problems with the ferry service. The Hurricanes host Gosport & Fareham in their next fixture on Saturday.
Don’t miss another story! Get the Island’s latest news delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to our daily newsletter here.