Alresford Pip the Hurricanes at the Death
Sandown were defeated on the road, as they lost out to a tenacious team effort from the Alresford boys.
Following the first defeat of the season against Bognor last weekend, the Hurricanes were looking to get back on track and put last weeks misdemeanours behind them. On a perfect pitch and with the weather holding, it was again great conditions for some running rugby and despite the fact we had only taken 16 players in the match day squad, hopes were high for a strong result.
From the kick off- Alresford set about using the big front five to punch holes and gain momentum. With an early penalty they were able to kick to the corner, and with a well set maul drive over the line for the first score of the day. With the try converted the hosts were 7-0 ahead.
Another contestable Sam Tyson kick off, and a good chase put pressure on the Alresford clearance, and with possession being regained at the line out, it was the turn of Sandown & Shanklin to turn the screw. With makeshift centre Harrison Booth causing the Alresford issues in midfield with his pace and power, the Hurricanes were starting to stretch the hosts defensive line. After a succession of quick phases, the ball was spun wide and this allowed Michael Barrett to whizz down the wing and was tackled deep in the Alresford 22. After a quick recycle at the breakdown the ball was shipped into the centres where Harrison Booth found a gap and sprinted through the line to dot down. With Tom Borrer converting the scores were tied at 7-7.
Despite the home side getting some ascendancy up front, the half finished the better for the Hurricanes, as the attempts from the forwards to play at a higher tempo was catching the home sides defences unawares and gaining them good go forward and territory. Man of the match Harry Hopper and Captain Sam Rees were king in the air, come line out time. This was helping keep the pace of the game high and providing quick and clean possession. With the Hurricanes exploiting the gaps in the defence, with their swift play across the field, a penalty was accrued and Tom Borrer coolly converted for a 7-10 lead at the break.
Sandown & Shanklin started the second half brightly, continuing in the same vein as the first half, using the wider channels to spread the ball, and get outside of the Alresford defence. After some swift hands from Sam Flux found Jack Wedderkop in space, it allowed Mr Wedderkop to take off into one of his customary bustling runs. After beating a handful of defenders, Wedderkop offloaded to the ever reliable David Graham, who scored the second Hurricanes try of the game. Man of the Match Tom Borrer converting again, this pushed the Hurricanes into the lead, 7-17.
The momentum of the game was swinging from one side to the next, and the fact that the momentum then was swung back in the favour of Alresford next, showed how much of an entertaining game this must have been for the neutral and supporters in attendance. With the restart cleared sufficiently Alresford now had possession. After a few phases the Hurricanes defence had held firm, however with the Alresford side making changes, they rotated their front row and were now increasing their advantage in this facet. From the resulting drive, as the Hurricanes defence was slow to react, the Alresford fly-half darted over the line and converted to put the home side right back in the game. 14-17
The hosts came back almost immediately as they struck again out wide through some swift handling, however pushing the conversion wide, 19-17.
With the result in the balance still both sides were pushing to take the advantage and what would end up being the result.
With the Alresford dominance starting to bear fruit up front, the hosts managed to push the Sandown pack over the line for another try and to take the initiative with a 24-17 lead.
Despite going behind the Hurricanes were next to strike back. With the wide game still gaining success, the ball travelled along the line to Michael Barrett, who managed to bust his way through the defence, and a spectacular offload to the supporting Sam Tyson who dashed to the try line, gave Sandown hope. And with Borrer converting again for a 100% return, the game was all square in the dying moments.
With the scores all square, the game was anyone's, however the pressure from the Alresford pack was telling, and in the final play, Alresford accrued a penalty, and despite a moment of indecision, the penalty was coolly kicked by the Alresford fly-half, for the lead and the victory.
With the result slipping through the hands of the Hurricanes, and the result was very much in their hands, fair play to the Alresford boys who stuck in and created a great game for the spectators. Sam Rees had this to say following the game: "Not the ideal preparation for the game next weekend, however we need to put a shift in and learn the differences, that will in the end help us achieve the victories we deserve."