By Andrew Hatch
Vectis progress to semi-finals after titanic struggle
In their toughest match of the season so far Vectis progressed to the Hampshire Cup semi-finals following a titanic struggle against Winchester.
Despite the importance of the fixture a rusty Vectis side struggled in the first half, standing off tackles and spilling what little ball they did manage to win. They allowed the Winchester half backs to control the game, which they did very well with clever kicks and sniping runs tying the Vectis defence down. On too many occasions Winchester were first to the breakdown to secure their ball or turn over Vectis possession.
Given the visitor's dominance it was a surprise that Vectis kept in touch on the scoreboard thanks to individual efforts from man of the match Rory Taylor, and Jesse Butchers. At half time Vectis were somehow only one score behind despite the amount of possession that Winchester had.
The half time team talk galvanised the Vectis forwards who were unrecognisable from the first half. They started winning a regular supply of ball and strong carrying from them put Winchester on the back foot and took control away from their half backs.Felix Methold and Emile Bleriot began to take control of the game. The pressure told and a try from Johnnie Graham after good work by the pack started the revival. Further tries from Jesse Butchers and Rory Taylor put Vectis in the lead.
To their credit Winchester did not give in and with very little time on the clock scored an equalising try to bring the scores to 30-30. The full time whistle blew with the teams deadlocked, meaning 5 minutes of extra time for two very tired teams. Vectis got on top in extra time and a try from short range by Emile Bleriot, after good approach work, put them ahead 35-30. With the final whistle imminent Vectis gave away several silly penalties allowing Winchester to get the ball deep into the Vectis half. Frantic attacking was met with committed defence and with Winchester inches away from the Vectis line the ball was stolen and booted into touch, ending a very intense and tight match and ensuring Vectis go into the semi-finals.
Both teams played very well and provided entertaining rugby for the excited crowd. In the end the game was won by the extra commitment of each and every player in the Vectis side and by the strike running of Rory and Jesse. Onto the semi finals!!
This was the last game for Will Howard who is on his way to the USA, and this was a fitting send off for him.
Scorers: Taylor 3; Butchers 2;Graham 1;Bleriot 1.
Squad;Bleriot;Butchers;Fox;Fry;Graham;Hatch;Howard W; Howard L;Johnson;Keywood;Lawal-Rieley;Mahoney;Methold;Nicholls;Rees;Smith;Taylor;Thomas;Puckett.