Basingstoke Cavaliers 32, Ventnor II 5
BATTERED and bruised, Ventnor felt hard done by with this defeat away to a physical Basingstoke side.
The Islanders came away convinced they would have scored more points, and may have even won, had a series of tough and arguably dangerous tackles not reduced Ventnor’s ranks to just 14 men.
Ventnor began with several key players missing and the remaining players out of position, and an early sin-bin for debutant Rob Ward led to Basingstoke scoring a try. Ventnor rallied and some excellent play between Dean Magnusson and man of the match Arran Fradgley led to the later diving over to put the visitors right back in it.
Will Bridges, in his first game for two years, was putting in some ferocious hits but got one slightly wrong and had to go off injured. He was soon followed by brother and inspirational skipper Allan Bridges, who was victim to a late dump tackle, which was unseen by the referee and which caused a separated shoulder which will put him on the sidelines for at least four months.
Will Bridges then returned to replace Mike Walker, whose departure meant the end to contested scrums, which at the time, Ventnor were shading.
It also meant the team had lost experience both behind the scrum and in the forward pack and Basingstoke took full advantage.
A. J, Wells Black Dog award winner Ed Blake was having the game of his life with some barracking runs and bone-crunching tackles until he, too, was forced from the pitch injured.
Down to 14, Ventnor struggled to stem the flow but not through lack of effort.
Ventnor: Pratt, Jones, Walker, Wilson, Newberry, Mitchell, Blake, Magnusson, Fradgley, Bridges, Boulton, Bridges, Dobbas, Ward, Ross. Subs: Blenhiem, Bate