Chichester sportingly travelled with just 12 players. In the spirit of 2nd XV rugby, Ventnor evened up the teams by lending players, and the game was played as a 13-a-side contest with lots of open running and full commitment from all.
The match kicked off with Ventnor putting on the early pressure, but it was Chichester who scored 1st with a break down the left. Due to the lack of front row players, the scrums were uncontested throughout, which resulted in clean ball for both teams and space to play attractive running rugby, endorsed by the sympathetic refereeing of Elys Norman.
Straightaway, Ventnor came back strongly with James Blake, Dean Magnurson and his son Charlie making ground, allowing the ebullient Rosco Harris to set up Gary Freeston for a try. Rev Warren Riches slotted the conversion to bring the scores level. With the returning Louis Vanassche and Nathan Ricketts prominent, Ventnor were on the front foot, and Ed Clarke put Harris away on the left and his one-handed offload gave Gareth Gough a chance to canter in for an excellent team try. Again, the Rev converted.
Chichester hit back with a try of their own before Freeston swooped on an interception and ran in his 2nd try. The Rev converted again, and Ventnor were 21 – 12 ahead. With halftime approaching, Aaron ‘Fred’ Newman took clean line out ball, and Clarke and Gav Davis took the ball up to give Harris a run in under the posts. This time, the Rev Riches stunned a post with his conversion attempt.
Half time: Ventnor 2nd XV 26 – 12 Chichester 3rd XV
As the 2nd half kicked off, Ventnor were rotating their substitutes, and it was good to see Harry Colson back at Watcombe after missing the season with a knee injury sustained in a motocross incident. Ventnor also welcomed Jack Rushton for a very promising debut. But, perhaps the most impressive of all, was the appearance on the field of Jac Stemmet, who had just finished a gruelling charity run in aid of Mad-Aid, in which he’d covered 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours.
Chichester scored when the home side’s defence wavered, but thereafter it was all Ventnor. Davis scored a great individual try, which was then matched by his centre partner Wayne Williams. Then, after powerful running from James Green, Nathan Ricketts got onto the end of a move, continued by the hard work of Engelgardt and Newman. The final try was scored by Ed Clarke, who had been outstanding throughout the game. In all, the Rev Riches converted 6 tries.
Full time: Ventnor 2nd XV 52 – 17 Chichester 3rd XV
At the final whistle, Dean Magnurson and Tommo Engelgardt gathered the squad together and conducted an impromptu memorial service to the late Ventnor legend Mike Walker on the centreline.
Ventnor: J.Blake, C.Magnurson, Vanassche, D.Magnurson (capt), Ricketts, Freeston, Harris, Clarke, G.Gough, G.Davis, Newman, W.Riches, Stemmet, Colson, Green, Rushton, W.Williams, T.Engelgardt.
The AJ Wells Man of the Match: Gary Freeston
The Red Funnel Moment of the Match: Warren Riches, Jack Rushton, and Harry Colson.
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