Hurricanes Continue Good Start to the season in Wet Conditions
Sandown & Shanklin 1st XV defeat Millbrook RFC in soggy conditions down at the Fairway.
In one of the first big tests for Sandown & Shanklin RFC this season, the home side hosted Millbrook RFC, who were looking to kick start their season after suffering two losses in their first four games of the season. The Hurricanes were looking to extend their winning start to the campaign to five games, with another strong performance against the visitors.
Similar to two weeks ago, when the Hurricanes welcomed Eastleigh RFC 2nd XV to the Fairway, the conditions were less than ideal for free flowing rugby, with the wind and rain swirling around the pitch.
The home side didn't get off to the best of starts to the game. After receiving the kick-off from the visitors, the home side looked to set straight into their patterns of play, however two immediate handling errors caused possession to be turned over. Consequently in an attempt to secure back possession, the Hurricanes infringed at the breakdown, and gave Millbrook an early penalty in front of the posts. This was converted and the opposition had given themselves an early 0 - 3 advantage.
This shocked Sandown & Shanklin into life and from the restart their defensive pressure resulted in a penalty which was kicked to the corner. A strong line out catch and drive was halted by the visitors, yet, they could not prevent the first score of the game a few pick and goes later, when prop Darren Carew dotted down in the corner. The conversion was missed by Sam Flux, but the Hurricanes had struck back after their poor start, 5 - 3.
As the Hurricanes settled into a rhythm through their phase play, it started to cause the tough Millbrook defence issues, stretching them one way to the next. Scrum-half Jacob Jordan and stand in fly-half Sam Tyson directing the traffic nicely from the halfback positions. Strong carrying from Ben Shannon and Darren Carew again gained the home side valuable momentum and metres, and when the opposition defence was stretched, the ball was spun wide and with an overlap on one side of the pitch, quick hands found winger Josh Wetherick who scored. Flux converted the second try of the game to extend the Hurricanes lead to 12 - 3.
With their tails up the home side were starting to hit their stride and from the restart, securely claimed by Shannon, the home side set about attacking their way up the field again. Making his debut in the centres, Ben Sanderson was a handful for the opposition defence ball in hand, and his pace was keeping the Millbrook defenders honest. After another spell of attacks in the Millbrook 22, the Hurricanes third try was scored when the quick thinking Jack Wedderkop scooped the ball up and dived over for his 7th try of the season. Flux converted and the home side seemed to be cruising at 19 - 3.
This back fired on the home side, and after a period of passive defending the opposition were soon capitalising upon a string of offences racked up against the Hurricanes. This culminated in a score minutes before half time by the visitors, and converted to narrow the margin to 19 - 10 at the break.
Millbrook started the second half the brightest and had earned themselves a penalty in the first few minutes of the half to cut their arrears down to 6 points, 19 - 13.
The second half was a tight affair between the two sides, as Sandown & Shanklin attempted to resist the oncoming Millbrook attacks. The resolute defence held firm, with strong tackling from man of the match Harry Hopper, and flanker Zak Chiverton helping to repel the attacks. Another wave came from the opposition, and this time it was prevented by Luke Hunter and Sam Flux winning the penalty at the breakdown. This allowed the Hurricanes to kick to touch and launch an attack of their own, and with a powerful maul set up from the line out, drove themselves into the away teams 22 for the first time. With the Millbrook defenders trying to keep out the Sandown attack, they infringed and the resulting penalty was knocked over by Flux, to extend their winning margin 22 - 13.
With the weather creating a slippery ball, some of the rugby played between the two sides was of a very good quality although injuries were starting to mount up for both sides. The Hurricanes lost centre Wedderkop, with a knock to the forearm, with Stephen Perfect taking his place in the back line. Up front Damian Seder took a knock early on but managed to come back on to help rotate with Adam Tyas and Zak Chiverton. Darren Carew also had to be taken off late and was replaced by Jack Winter for the last ten minutes of the game, as Sandown & Shanklin looked to hold onto their lead.
Millbrook threw everything they had at the hosts, and in the end in the last play of the game earned themselves a penalty. Opting to kick the penalty for the guaranteed Losing Bonus Point (LBP), this ended an enthralling fixture 22 - 16.
Captain Sam Flux, thanked the Millbrook boys for a great game of rugby and said they were looking for already for the return fixture at Millbrook in the New Year.
Director of Rugby Damion Marriott reflected on the game with his thoughts below:
"We’re really pleased with first half performance, because it was a duration in which we were dominant. I was especially thrilled with how we played in the first quarter of the game. I thought we played with superb intensity, with great control from the half-backs JJ and Tyson, and everybody was switched on to our game plan. We deserved to have been far more ahead then we were."
“The second half ,however, was a complete stark contrast to the first and fair play to Millbrook, they came at us for the whole 40 minutes and may feel absolutely gutted they never won. Defensively we were outstanding especially Harry and Zak who put their bodies on the line. Silly penalties and back chat to the referee at an important time cost us. It put us under massive pressure in moments of the game, when had so much control. This could have cost us, and the boys understand that, if, we have a second half performance like this again this season - it’s going to cost us dearly”
Next up for the Hurricanes is the Hampshire Bowl Quarter Finals on Saturday 13th October, at home to Eastleigh RFC. The two sides last met in this competition four years ago, in the semi-final stages. On that day Eastleigh RFC were victorious winning 12 - 0.
Kick-off will be at 3pm, and we look forward to welcoming everyone down to the Fairway to help support the Hurricanes on their cup journey!