Locksheath Pumas RFC 38-19 Ventnor RFC 1XV Match Report Sat 18 February 2023
A Ventnor RFC 1XV side, buoyed up by their previous weeks’ victory over Gosport and Fareham, took to the ferry again to take on a strong Locksheath Pumas RFC side.
Unavailability and injuries meant a couple of changes to the starting line-up, with the evergreen Fergus Kenny moving to scrum-half and Luke Butler returning at 10.
The back four of Tom Crews, Sam Lines, Ben Soutter and Ed Blake remained the same with Alan Fox starting at full-back.
Up front George Finan joined the second row alongside Andy Teague and Captain Lewis Jones at hooker was once again alongside George Collett and Ben Savill. The returning Harry Colson joined Joe Coghlan and Dan Bell to complete the back row.
Playing with the advantage of both slope and wind in the first half Ventnor were unlucky to concede a try after 5 minutes after a scrum penalty was awarded against them when most observers thought the home team loosehead was at fault.
A lineout on the Ventnor 5m line from the kick and a strong driving maul gave Pumas the chance to open their account. 5-0 Pumas. This was countered almost immediately when a series of phases opened up the opposition’s defence to give Crews the chance to score although he couldn’t add the conversion points.
Having drawn level the confidence of the backs seemed to grow and an excellent 50-22 kick from Butler gave a lineout platform in the Pumas 22. With Coghlan in good form at the lineout the backs were able to create another opportunity for Crews which, this time, he was able to convert. 5-12 to the visitors. Some excellent defensive work against a larger pack of forwards kept the Pumas at bay before Ventnor were awarded a penalty and were able to clear their lines.
Again from the lineout the backs found some space with Sam Lines jinking through and finding Ed Blake on his shoulder with a clear run to the line. The successful conversion from Crews and Ventnor were looking good at 5-19.
The Pumas responded strongly though and a series of forward drives in the Ventnor 22 resulted in them carrying over for their second try. Ventnor’s rhythm was disrupted in the final 10 minutes of the half with two injuries.
Firstly Crews sustained a shoulder injury and was replaced at centre by debutant Joel Cocks. Not long afterwards Finan was forced off with a head injury to be replaced by Tristan Price. These enforced changes allowed the home side to end the half scoring another try from a driving maul at a lineout. With a successful conversion Ventnor ended the half in front 17-19.
From the restart some slack tackling gave Pumas another penalty opportunity and from the resulting lineout the try from the driving maul had a certain air of inevitability. Ventnor then put themselves on the back foot again when their kick-off didn’t travel 10m and from the scrum on halfway Pumas were able to manufacture enough space to score once more.
With two successful conversions Ventnor now found themselves 31-19 adrift and this quickly became 38-19 after some more missed tackles following a Pumas lineout allowed the home side to score their 6th try.
To their credit Ventnor bounced straight back and Blake almost scored after again taking a pass from a break made by Lines. An excellent cover tackle saw him brought down just short of the line and further pressure from the visitors meant the home side were lucky to not see a yellow card following a series of penalties in their 22.
Ventnor defended heroically in the final 5 minutes, twice holding up over their line, to leave a final score of 38-19.
Very much a tale of two halves and the first half showed the type of rugby that the team is capable of. The wasteful amount of turn-overs, giving possession away, was halved from the previous week and just goes to show, once again, that at this level if you keep possession of the ball for long enough then try-scoring opportunities will come.
With the enforced changes through injuries and playing up the slope, against the wind in the second half Ventnor can take much heart from this performance. It goes to show the importance of having a full subs bench as a third reserve may have helped with some fresh legs towards the end but the coaches will be happy with the way the team put the proposed game plan (short passes, retain possession, play in the right areas) into effect.
Ventnor can look forward to their next fixture in 2 weeks’ time, at home to Winchester RFC 2nd XV, on Saturday 4 March 2023, in what will be their last home game of the season and in front of their Vice-presidents and sponsors.
Image: credit unknown
Team: Collett, Jones (capt), Savill, Finan, Teague, Colson, Coghlan, Bell, Kenny, Butler, Souter, Crews, Lines, E. Blake, Fox
Replacements: Price, Cocks
Coaches: Jason Evans, Fergus Kenny and Clive Cardwell-Hill
Physio: Zoe Jones
Match Report: Clive Cardwell Hill
For more information, please contact JAMES MORTON, Hon Club Secretary, Ventnor RFC
T: 07901 938 317
The fixtures are correct as of the date of the time of publication and are given in good faith. E & OE. All fixtures are subject to change or cancellation at short notice.