Ventnor RFC 1XV 26-13 Christchurch RFC match report
Counties 3 Hampshire Saturday 27 January 2024
In front of another good crowd at Watcombe which was boosted by a vocal travelling band from the visitors, Ventnor and Christchurch went at each other from the kick-off without either getting a firm foothold in the game.
Ventnor will always try to play rugby – sometimes to their detriment – and several good moves came to nought as the ball went loose or a pass went astray.
The set pieces were pretty even with Will Harrison, George Collett and skipper Ben Savill holding their own in the scrums and Charlie Magnurson at no 8 making several bruising inroads into the mainlanders’ defence.
It was an even game as the first half developed. Ed Blake was unlucky to have the ball bounce away from him as he chased his own kick ahead while – at the other end – Jake Babington and Callum Martin (aka Shoeless Joe) both made try-saving tackles as the game stretched from end to end.
Eventually it was Ventnor who cracked when a close-in lineout to Christchurch resulted in a powerful maul that sucked in the Islanders’ defence so that the try was scored through the threequarters. The conversion hit the post as Ventnor’s charge unnerved the kicker.
Christchurch were now on the ascendancy as Ventnor became ragged and Blake was replaced by Harry Ottley as his frustration got the better of him. Morton made yet another try-saver but Ventnor’s habit of giving away soft penalties resulted in three more points against them. The massed spectators were getting that familiar sinking feeling but it was Josh Rettie who started the comeback with a kick ahead that Babington chased and appeared to score but the referee had spotted a knock-on.
Rettie, after an excellent debut at full-back away to Romsey the previous week, had slotted into the fly-half position as both Sam Lines and Joel Cocks were unavailable, and his experience and tactical nous were beginning to have an influence on matters as the whistle went for the break with Ventnor down by 0 – 8.
Ventnor started the second half with renewed energy. Green replaced the battered Magnurson and Blake came back on for Martin. In the front row, the excellent Harrison gave way for Dan Lythgoe. However, it was the visitors who struck first as some dodgy midfield tackling allowed a score out on the left and suddenly Ventnor were thirteen points down and staring defeat in the face.
Savill gathered his men together and the character of the side shone through as Andy Teague and the excellent Jason Coltham began to make inroads and Lythgoe’s hard running in the narrow channels began to soften up the visitors’ defence. From a resultant ruck, Rettie kicked ahead, Morton made the turnover and took a quick penalty to give the abrasive Guy Entwistle a try. Blake converted. 7-13.
Ventnor were back in the game with Savill thundering into any chink in the defence, Green powerful in the rucks and Rettie was starting to run the show. Fred Fairman was unlucky as his chase and gather almost put the tireless Collett away.
The move carried on but Blake was tackled into touch. Then the swift-thinking Ottley took a quick line-out which released Babington and Layton Greatorex deep into Christchurch territory. A hurried defensive kick was remarkably caught by Fairman as it left the boot and Coltham put Babington in. 12 – 13
Now it was all Ventnor. Ottley was tackled into touch close to the Christchurch line. From the lineout, pressure on the kicker resulted in a catch on the halfway line by Blake who demonstrated his combination of power, balance and pace to slalom his way over for an excellent try that thoroughly made amends for his show of pique in the first half. He then converted his own try and now Ventnor were leading 19 – 13.
It was still tight though and it was Josh Rettie’s experience that kept the Christchurch team where Ventnor wanted them. From one of his kicks into space, Morton – who’s commitment is only matched by his energy – steered the catcher into the path of Babington who made the tackle. Morton snaffled the ball and Entwistle put Rettie away and the Flying Scotsman outflanked the struggling opposition to touch down under the posts for the bonus point try. Blake again converted. 26 -13.
There had been plenty of niggle during the game epitomised by the battle between the scrum-halves where Ben Souter was hardly sheepish and gave as good as it got. His partnership with Rettie grew as the game developed even though Ventnor’s ruck ball tended to be slow and prevented the backline showing what they can do given space.
Unfortunately the game was whistled early as some Christchurch players needlessly objected to a typically powerful Greatorex tackle that took their winger into touch and the referee decided to end the contest rather than make sanctions.
A great win for Ventnor which said a lot for their character. Josh Rettie was the revelation and must have pressed Lewy Morton hard for the award of The Red Funnel Man of the Match. With some unexpected results elsewhere in the league, Ventnor can now move forward with confidence of more victorious days to come.
Image: JAMES MORTON
Team: Harrison, Collett, Savill (capt), Teague, Coltham, Entwistle, L.Morton, C.Magnurson, Souter, Rettie, E.Blake, Greatorex, Fairman, Martin, Babington Subs. Lythgoe, Green, Otley
Coaches: Jason Evans
, Clive Cardwell-Hill
Physio: Sarah Watt
Ventnor RFC would like to thank our match sponsors, namely: Besty and Spinky’s, Gamson Gray Design and Media, Josh Kerley Tree Services, No 7 & Niton Post Office, Ninham, St James’s Place Wealth Management, The Crab and Lobster, The Mill Bay and The Volunteer.
Match Report: JAMES MORTON
Next Ventner RFC Fixtures – Saturday 3 February 2024
T: 07901 938 317
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