After three promising but ultimately disappointing performances, Ventnor travelled to Southampton with a team featuring several members playing out of position.
Things didn’t bode well when Southampton started strongly and only excellent tackling from Dean Magnurson, Ben Savill, Alex Morton and the ubiquitous Dominic Marsh kept them out before Ventnor began to establish themselves through the scrummaging of Adam Pratt, Lewis Jones and Tristan Price and the superb lineout work of Harry Colson and Marsh.
It was from a lineout catch from Marsh that Jones embarked on a typical surging peel which took him through the first line of defence and set up Chris Hill to put Mike Flanagan over for Ventnor’s first try.
This seemed to give the islanders more confidence and a great tackle and turnover by Magnurson and Price put Sam Lines away who passed to Chris Fletcher who was lurking on the wing to flop over – a feat that seemed to exhaust him to the point that he took himself off to be replaced by debutant Iain Lane.
Ventnor were now in top gear and from the kick-off, slick hands from Lines, Jake Babington and Hill put Ed Blake over for the first of his three tries.
However, some bad habits returned at this point and indecisiveness allowed Southampton a couple of cheap tries and threw the match open again before Hill – all arms, legs and hair – untangled himself from several would-be tacklers and flew over for his first try of the match.
This was shortly followed by another two scores from Babington the first from a mazy run from halfway and the second from another powerful lineout drive. This ended the half with Ventnor leading 30 – 12.
The second half started strongly and a massive scrum allowed Colson to burst through to score under the posts for a try that Lines converted.
In all Ventnor tried three different kickers – Lines, Morton and Lane – but this conversion stubbornly remained as the only success! Southampton were beginning to lose their self-control and the referee showed them a couple of yellows for constant back-chat which bracketed a yellow for Ventnor’s Ben Savill – the victim of a number of team infringements as Ventnor responded to their hosts’ frustrations.
This didn’t dent Ventnor’s resolve and Babington duly completed his hat-trick with another scorching run to the line before a driving scrum resulted in Blake’s second try after Lines was held up over the line. Blake then made an interception to complete his own hat-trick and would have got a fourth after a charge from Morton – growing into the 15 shirt – but the final pass drifted forward.
Ventnor completed their scoring with a break from Blake which resulted in a second try for the excellent Hill.
The game ended in unfortunate circumstances with a Southampton player receiving a second yellow – and thus a red – again for constant bickering at the referee.
The result was a great win for Ventnor with a final score of 57 – 24.
A J Wells Man of the Match: Dominic Marsh for an all-action game in both attack and defence.
Red Funnel Moment of the Match: Chris Fletcher. Ventnor’s coach is strong on the importance of a forward’s position on the pitch so why was he hanging out on the wing for his try?
Team: Price, Jones (capt), Pratt, Fletcher, Savill, Magnurson, Marsh, Colson, Flanagan, Lines, Noyes, Babington, Hill, Blake, A.Morton. subs: Lane, S.Gough
Match report: James Morton