Hurricanes weather the storm and Eastleigh RFC
Sandown & Shanklin defeated Eastleigh RFC 2nd XV 15-5 in wet and windy conditions.
Sandown & Shanklin kicked the fixture off playing down in the first half, with the big Eastleigh pack looking to do most of their hard work in the first half. The opening quarter or so of the game was a tight affair between the two sides, as neither could really build any meaningful momentum before a handling error or a penalty was awarded switching any possession around. The visitors came closest to the try line, when they kicked a penalty to the Hurricanes 5 metre line. However, the resulting line out catch and drive was held out and the home side cleared their lines nicely to remove the danger.
In the second quarter, the game sparked into life as both sides had adapted to the conditions. The Hurricanes managed to attain some sustained pressure in the Eastleigh half, and when the opportunity arose from a breakdown penalty, the home side got a line out in the Eastleigh 22. The catch and drive was held by the visiting forwards, but the hosts phase play was starting to test the Eastleigh defence and holes were appearing.
Following a powerful drive from Darren Carew, the ball was now just under the Eastleigh posts and short of the try line. With the visitors defence desperate to prevent a try, the opposition strayed offside and killed the ball. With the referee taking a dim view on the actions of the defence, he awarded a penalty try to the Hurricanes for the first score of the game, 7 - 0.
With defences king in the final minutes of the first half, there was no real space for any attacking play.
The second half began much in the same was as the first, with the two forward packs attempting to wrestle control of the game from one another and find the space for their outside backs. Strong carrying from Zak Chiverton and Martin Richomme was helping get the Hurricanes on the front foot. The physicality of the game was starting to take it's toll on both sides, as the changes was starting to create holes in the defences. With the visitors now playing down the hill, their game plan altered slightly, looking to kick and force the Hurricanes to play up the hill. This was manfully managed by man of the match, Owen Williams, who expertly fielded and defused a lot of high, challenging kicks from full back for Sandown & Shanklin. The visitors began the second half with a bit more energy and this was rewarded for them, when they managed to regain possession in the Hurricanes 22 and then find their way to the try line. With the challenging conversion missed, the momentum of the game had swung again, in favour of the visitors. With the Eastleigh side coming back into the Hurricanes half, looking to claim the lead of the game, Owen became the hero of the day, when the visitors efforts looked like they were about to score, a fumbled ball popped into the hands of the full back and he sprinted 60m up field to score in the corner to extend the hosts lead, 12 - 5.
This set up a very tense final ten minutes of the game, however, with the home side in buoyant mood, they set about extending their lead and trying to put the result beyond doubt. Some smart play from Josh Wetherick and centres Sam Tyson and Harrison Booth, found the home side back in the opposition 22, and with the defence infringing again, a penalty was awarded to the home side. Flux slotted the penalty for a 15 - 5 lead, into the dying moments of the game.
The Hurricanes held out, with some brilliant tackling from Hopper, Seder and Kulik preventing the opposition from building any momentum, and when the ball was knocked on, the referee brought an end to a very tense and close game.
Debutante Harrison Fyffe acquitted himself well in the challenging conditions on the wing. Sadly the injury list grew by one as well, with flanker Henry Bagnall suffering a knee injury, which is hoped will only keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
Director of Rugby Damian Marriott was happy with the result but also in following the game:
“They disrupted us pretty well and we lacked a little bit of the clinical edge that we’ve had in previous games.
Little errors compounded to make it a pressure game – I thought Eastleigh handled the pressure well and I’m proud of our lads that we came through that. Nothing is always going to go your own way especially in this league but this group understand that the most important thing is how many try-scoring opportunities you can create.
Our fantastic mindset we have is that if one gets away from us, then the next opportunity will come if we stick to the plan and keep working hard for each other. At the end I was screaming to get the ball off the pitch and escape with win in this weather but they were still hunting for more and I’m loving that mentally."
Next week the Hurricanes host another double header at the Fairway, with the 1st XV hosting Tottonians RFC 2nd XV and the Sandown & Shanklin 2nd XV hosting Farnham RFC 4th XV.
Credit Images: Sean Grummett and IWCP