By Andrew Hatch
Chastening experience as Vectis exit the cup
There are in rugby certainties that have existed since the game started, whatever the latest fashions in tactics. Vectis learnt today against New Milton in the Hampshire Cup quarter finals that without the ball you can't win.
The match started well for Vectis with the pack winning a steady stream of ball and the half backs choosing the right option of running the ball into the wind. After a period of pressure on the New Milton line Ryan Fu, forwards man of the match, showed speed of thought and foot, unusually for a prop, and took a quick penalty to crash over from a metre out. The try was well converted by Rory Taylor in a swirling wind. Further pressure followed and in a rare sweeping backs move Tom Branagh was worked into space and raced over under the posts which made the conversion easier.
There were however warning signs and New Milton worked themselves back into the game by feeding off Vectis mistakes in the breakdown and working their way downfield with strong running and good tactical kicks. New Milton finished off the half with a well worked move resulting in a try in the corner which was unconverted.
In the second half New Milton took control of the game and were more dynamic in the breakdown area, There were long periods of desperate and heroic tackling by Vectis which frustrated New Milton for long periods. Vectis had difficulty however in getting out of their half, despite a fine display of kicking out of hand by Taylor, and several strong runs by backs man of the match Tom Branagh. Inevitably New Milton scored again, and before the end of the match scored 4 second half tries without answer, to progress to the semi finals.
All of the Vectis players can be proud of their effort and the tackling and defence was rarely less than heroic, with last ditch tackles by Finn Mahoney and Jesse Butchers stopping certain tries, but even the best sides cannot keep on tackling and not run out of steam. Several injuries disrupted the back line which didn't help . The lesson to be learnt is to keep hold of possession when you have it and make the opposition do all of the tackling.The game was a credit to both sides who gave everything and showed high levels of skill and commitment.