Vectis-v-Winchester Hampshire Plate SF
By Andrew Hatch
Agonising defeat in the mud
Despite their best display of the season Vectis fell just short in losing to Winchester on a wet and muddy North Walls pitch. The game started with Winchester kicking well and running strongly to camp in the Vectis half for the first ten minutes of the match. Strong defence kept Winchester out for long periods but the pressure told eventually and Winchester broke through to open the scoring. Soon after a period of pressure on the Vectis line led to a short range try to take Winchester into a 10-0 lead, which started to worry the noisy away supporters.
Vectis refused to buckle and worked their way back into the game with the forwards going toe to toe with their opponents in the set piece and the loose with the front row of Fu, Howard and Reynolds in the forefront. The backs, bravely, continued to try and run the ball, and Nathan Sanchez, Finn Mahoney, Jesse Butchers and man of the match Tom Branagh were a constant threat.
The team worked its way down field and were rewarded a scrum 5 m out. Sam Thomas at no 8 picked up and drove over the line from short range. Rory Taylor converted to bring the score back to 10-7 and the momentum swung towards Vectis. They were unlucky not to take the lead when Rory Taylor made a break from his own 22 and headed for the Winchester line. On a dry pitch he may have made it but he was overhauled by the defence who didn't give up the chase. Tom Branagh also came close but put a foot in touch on his way to the line.
In the second half a lot of the game was played between the two 22's showing how even the sides were. The tackling and defence generally from both teams was outstanding. Both teams chose to run the ball rather then keep kicking for position and the second half was a fine display of committed, positive rugby.
The last ten minutes saw Vectis begin to win the territory battle and the breakdown with forwards Olly Fry, Joe Caddick, Sam Fox, Freddie Newton and Johnny Graham covering every blade of grass in their hunt for the ball. Emile Bleriot at scrum half directed his forwards intelligently and gave Felix Methold and the outside backs good ball to play with. Substitutes Will Hatch and Thor Lawel-Reiley kept the momentum up. Vectis however were unable to add to their score, partly due to the weather and some over-excitement close to the line, but mostly because of heroic tackling by Winchester. At the final whistle both sides were exhausted reflecting the effort they had put in.
Neither side deserved to lose this game and the margin of victory was very small. The game was a credit to both sets of players who gave everything and played the game in the right spirit, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Team: Fu;Howard;Reynolds;Fry;Fox;Newton;Thomas;Caddick;Bleriot;Methold; Taylor;Butchers;Sanchez; Mahoney;Branagh;Hatch;Lawel-Reiley;Johnson;Graham;Ridley;Lewis.