Ventnor played host to Southsea Nomads in a Merit Table clash at Watcombe Bottom last Saturday (9th Feb) in a game sponsored by Ayres-Punchard Investments and Yates Brewery.

The first quarter of the game was an edgy affair, neither team seeming able to make in-roads into the others defence. The muddy pitch conditions meant that both teams were intent on keeping the ball with their forwards, and as the game entered the second quarter it seemed that Ventnor were edging it in this area. Gav Davies, this game his first since returning from injury, broke the tension by ripping through Nomads defence to put Ventnor ahead, Warren Riches converting.

Ventnor were galvanised by this effort and the remainder of the half was characterised by strong Ventnor play. However, the team was unable to add any further points, entering half-time 7-0 up.

Ventnor started the second half confidently, dominating affairs at the scrum and tiring Nomads with continued assaults on their defensive line. Outstanding efforts from Wightlink Man of the Match Joshua Franklin ensured that Nomads were continually frustrated at the breakdown and set piece. This pressure eventually paid off with winger Dappy adding another 5 points for Ventnor, Riches adding the extras. Jim McGovern got in on the act shortly afterward, bursting through tackles to add another 5 points to Ventnor’s tally.

While it looked like the game was in the bag for Ventnor, Nomads didn’t give up and made the most of a quick penalty and Ventnor’s inattention to earn themselves a try late in the game.

Ventnor retaliated and pushed play back to within Nomads 22-metre line, even winning a couple of scrums against the head. It looked as though Ventnor were sure to be rewarded for this pressure when another quick penalty allowed Nomads to recover lost ground and then slip through Ventnor’s defenders to be rewarded with the last score of the game.

Ventnor were again deep in Nomads territory and throwing themselves against the opposition when the ball left play and the referee signalled the end of a hard fought Ventnor victory. Nolan Winter was given the AJ Wells Black Dog Award.

Team: Collins, Franklin, Pratt, Wilson, Blake, Winter, Stemmet, Newman, Clarke, McGovern, Bridges, Davies, Engelgardt, Dappy, Riches, Newbery, Babington.

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