Ventnor’s second team travelled to face Andover with an untested squad including some old hands and a number of young players making their Ventnor débuts. Andover started strongly, putting in some big hits and punching through a faltering Ventnor defence. This pressure soon paid off with Andover earning two tries in the first ten minutes.
Ventnor tried to plug the gaps made by slick Andover attacks, managing to hold off a number of close calls with a series of brave and dedicated tackles. This physical play took its toll and Ventnor’s Bradshaw had to leave the field injured, Ventnor bracing for the remaining hour with 14 men. Andover used the extra space well and ran in two tries before the interval for a 24-0 lead.
The second half didn’t start well for Ventnor, Andover turning the screw by crashing through tackles to win the race to the line. Ventnor soon conceded another, leaving them 36 points down with twenty-five minutes left to play.
Ventnor kept their heads up despite the assault, managing to regroup and disrupt Andover’s play. Winger Matt Cripps put himself in the way of a thundering Andover forward, was brutally palmed off, only to bounce off the floor and race to make another tackle. This spirit of defiance spread throughout the team and the last twenty minutes of the game belonged to Ventnor. Ventnor pinned Andover in their own 22 and continually attacked their try line, only to be denied when the ball was knocked forward in contact. Ventnor, seemingly a different team, kept running at the Andover defence, and eventually Wightlink Man of the Match Penner topped an adventurous move to score Ventnor’s consolation try. The AJ Wells Black Dog Award went to veteran Number 8 Bradshaw, for putting in a solid appearance before leaving the field with what team-mates described as a ‘twisted sock’.
Despite the defeat, Ventnor left their field with their heads held high and looking forward to next Saturday’s home match against Romsey (29th).
1. Collins 2. Franklin 3. Newton (C) 4. Wilson 5. Pike 6. Barton 7. Penner 8. Bradshaw 9. Riches 10. McGovern 11. Draper 12. Marsh 13. Williams 14. Cripps 15. Blake