Despite the appalling weather conditions and a pitch that cut up badly, Saturday’s match between Romsey 1st XV and Ventnor 1st XV was an excellent match played with great spirit and energy by both teams.
Romsey established their game plan early on with their pick and drive tactics working well for them, despite some excellent close-in defence by the Islanders with Andy Teague and Joel Walton prominent. However, Ventnor soon demonstrated their prowess at the set piece with Adam Pratt, skipper Lewis Jones and Ben Savill dominating their opposite front row at scrum time and Joe Coghlan supreme in the lineout. Special mention should be given to Savill who took on his heavier opponent in the front row and used his strength and stamina to gain increased ascendancy as the game wore on.
Defences were on top and there was no score for some time until some lazy marking at a penalty allowed Romsey to break down the pitch and set up a siege under Ventnor’s posts resulting in a converted try.
Undaunted, Ventnor held their discipline and worked some promising positions with a far more ambitious game plan than their opponents as Luke Butler – making a very welcome return at fly-half after injury – conducted the process with deft kicks behind Romsey’s defence or short passes to the hard-running Max Wheeler to gain the hard yards. This pressure paid off and Tom Crews – ever reliable at full-back – slotted a penalty to make the score at half-time 7 – 3 to Romsey.
Ventnor started the second half with growing confidence, epitomised by the work of Louis Wyatt on the right wing who terrorised his opposite number every time he got the ball. From one such run, Ventnor gained territory and quick work from Louis Malkin provided Dan Bell the space to dive over for a try to take the lead for the first time. This was followed by a long kick out of defence that was chased down by Sam Lines and Cory Turner – on for Wheeler who had taken a blow to the ribs – to such effect that the Islanders gained a penalty. Jones elected to scrum and Bell peeled off the back to set up a ruck under Romsey’s posts from which Ryan Cooper sold an exquisite dummy before sliding in for a try that Crews converted.
Romsey continued with their effective pick and drive game but Ventnor had it covered with everyone working for each other in a true team effort. Romsey would play the phases and make gradual ground but it all came to nought with a Ventnor turnover or a knock-on from which the Islanders could counter attack with Ed Blake and Walton particularly prominent. Lines had to leave the field after a high shot for which Romsey’s number 8 was yellow carded and the steam eventually ran out from the home team’s endeavours as the final whistle blew to signal a welcome first away win of the season for a thoroughly deserving Ventnor side.
Ventnor 1st play Portsmouth 2nd away next Saturday. Ventnor 2nd entertain Portsmouth 3rd at Watcombe.
Result: Romsey 7 – Ventnor 15
The A.J. Wells Man of the Match: Louis Wyatt
The Red Funnel Moment of the Match: Ed Blake
Team: Ben Savill, Lewis Jones (capt), Adam Pratt, Joel Walton, Andrew Teague, Ryan Cooper, Joe Coghlan, Dan Bell, Louis Malkin, Ed Blake, Luke Butler, Sam Lines, Max Wheeler, Louis Wyatt and Tom Crews. Sub: Cory Turner
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