From the first whistle, Ventnor were on the front foot, putting together phase after phase with Louis Malkin’s whipped service providing width which allowed the excellent Sam Lines to run proceedings from fly-half. Ian Lane was the pick of the forwards at this point, his speed onto the ball and his lines of running giving his forwards a target.
Little mistakes were spoiling their progress however and it took a determined drive by veteran Dean Magnurson and a typical jinking run by Lines to offer the space for Ed Blake to crash over – a try that Blake himself converted. Blake scored his second straight from the restart as Lane took a miraculous running catch – between his knees! – to feed Lines whose short pass put the winger in again – a try which he then converted.
Although the visitors got themselves onto the scoresheet with an unconverted try (when Ventnor’s tackling went absent without leave) it was the home team still on top as their scrum began to gain dominance with the power of Ben Savill, skipper Lewis Jones, Tristan Price and Andy Teague very evident. Consequently from a scrum, Blake made progress, Ross Harris carried it on and fed Chris Hill who took a difficult ball and forced his way over. Blake again converted.
Chasing the try bonus point, Ventnor were unlucky to miss out when Jake Babington was adjudged to have put a foot in touch on his way to a try and then Harris was held up over the line. From the subsequent scrum, Hill picked up at no 8 and put in an unstoppable run to crash over in the corner. Thus Ventnor led 26 – 5 at halftime.
Ventnor started the second half with an early penalty from Blake. The visitors messed up the restart and Babington took the pass from Edwards to battle through a couple of tackles and streak over. Blake added the extras. Then fullback Justinas Urbanos put in a great run which resulted in a quick tap penalty to put Babington in again.
The game had been played at a great pace throughout and there were some tired bodies out there so mistakes began to creep in. Cameron Griggs and Dan Noyes came on to boost the energy in the pack – Griggs demonstrating his hunger for work with some storming runs – while Max Wheeler came on for Harris and provided his muscularity in defence as the visitors began to use their heavy runners to make progress.
To their great credit Gosport and Fareham finished the stronger team, scoring two late tries and only being denied a bonus point try by a magnificent choke tackle by Magnurson, Chris Fletcher and Blake. The final whistle sounded with Ventnor taking a vital win 41 – 19.
Ventnor 41 – 19 Gosport and Fareham
Team: Price, Jones (capt), Savill, Teague, Lane, Magnurson, Hill, Fletcher, Malkin, Lines, Blake, Edwards, Harris, Babington, Urbonas subs: Noyes, Griggs, Wheeler
A J Wells Man of the Match: Ed Blake
Red Funnel Moment of the Match: Louis Malkin
Ventnor would like to thank their match sponsors: Norris Family Grocers, Reynolds and Reed Ltd, Smugglers Haven Tea Gardens, Solent.co, Steve Champion and TJ’s Gym and Fitness Studio
Report by James Morton