IW 17, New Milton & District 22
IW ALMOST gained a real coup in Hampshire One, coming close to beating table-toppers New Milton.
The pattern of the season so far for the IW continued, as they gave high-flying opposition a testing time but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard.
New Milton sustained a battering from the hosts for much of the game but ultimately they came by their scores much more easily than the IW and their determined defence contributed hugely.
It was the visitors who started better, threatening the IW line a couple of times before their centre picked a good line to score under the posts.
IW hit back with a long spell of persistent pressure, dominating scrum and lineout but getting little change out of the visiting defence.
All they had to show for their efforts was a missed Dan Taylor penalty and a series of five-metre scrums, which came to nothing.
In the second half, New Milton scored first with a penalty goal, though this was soon cancelled out by Gary Warvill’s kick.
IW forwards continued to control matters, as Rouse Ltd men of the match Tom Hatch and Dan Hodgson were prominent.
On a number of occasions a try seemed inevitable, but poor options and handling let IW down.
And they were made to pay for not making their possession count, when New Milton scored from a breakout and then again from turnover ball, to lead 22-3.
Prompted by Neil Brading and Adam Thomas, IW did come back. After more pressure in the New Milton 22, Nick Puckett generated the momentum to crash over for a try, converted by Warvill.
Then came an early contender for try of the season, with eight minutes to go. Warvill fielded a kick outside his own 22 and fended off two would-be tacklers, before feeding Hodgson. The big second-row broke the line and made huge inroads upfield, before offloading to the supporting Hatch who sent Dan Stirrup in for a marvellous score. Warvill landed the kick and suddenly the Island were within five points.
In the remaining minutes, the New Milton defence was again in evidence, and they held on. However, the IW gained a bonus point as their reward and will take confidence from their performance.
IW: Stirrup, Williams, Evans, Puckett, Coates, Taylor, Brading, Puzey, Newnham, Boulter, Hodgson, Thomas, Tombleson, Hatch, Lynch. Subs: Warvill, McAdam, Jennings.