Sandown & Shanklin 2nd XV pick up victory on the road with 14 men
The Hurricanes 2nd XV shorn of some of their usual faces managed to pick up a great 41-46 victory away from home.
Travelling to Southampton RFC on Saturday with a side bereft of its usual home game superstars, Sandown & Shanklin second team enjoyed the fine weather, and arrived in a buoyant and confident mood for their first away game of the season.
Confidence, however, seemed to falter a little when some of the younger and less experienced Hurricanes realised they were playing an older and bolder Southampton side, full of 18+ stone forwards and backs.
However, within a couple of minutes of the kick-off it soon became apparent that the late October sun and firm pitch were a blessing for open running rugby and with a little guidance from some of the more experienced Hurricanes the game soon started to favour the younger side.
Confident running from new number 8 Connor King saw him very quickly penetrate Southampton’s defence resulting in a magnificent clear out at the ruck by Jack Winter and ending with a well worked try for a rejuvenated and gazelle like Rob Newton.
This seemed to set the tone for the next 20 to 25 minutes of the game with forwards and backs linking superbly resulting in another couple of tries, one from hooker Luke Gales and another from new number 7 George Law. It was only in later stages of the first half that Southampton started to click and managed to take advantage of their superior size and their extra man, Southampton scored two quick tries, both using the blind side from a couple of their own scrums.
The last five minutes of the half saw Sandown’s loose head prop Zac Davies and second row Dan Sayers combining superbly in open play, with Sayers scoring a magnificent try under the posts, half-time score 10 - 22 to Sandown.
The second half saw the visitors playing with the strong winter sun on their faces making the highball very difficult to see and judge, however, Hurricanes number 10 Jack Southcott started using his boot with great effect and this time it was the Sandown backs turn to get onto the score sheet with Steve Johnson and a young Rob Newton Jnr working well in the centre’s it wasn't long before we saw Newton junior going over for another superb try. With Sandown & Shanklin now several points ahead and having worked so hard it was perhaps inevitable that the players were starting to feel the pressure of playing 14 men against a full side and with Southampton recognising an easing in the pressure upon them they struck back with some well worked power plays. This and the weaker tackling from the visitors allowed Southampton back in the hunt and they managed to close the gap back to five points.
The last 30 minutes of the game saw S&S digging deep into their physical reserves and all 14 players giving absolutely all they had. Further tries from both Law and King kept the Hurricanes just in front. With only 10 minutes to go Southampton scored yet another try through a well worked lineout just 15m from the Hurricanes try line. 5 tries to the Hurricanes 6. When Southampton scored again by spinning it wide and using the extra man it was very apparent that Sandown had to pick up their pace again, time to do-or-die.
Had Southampton used the wide ball and the overlap a little more often the result could have been very different, but Southampton had intended to use their bulk, power and intimidation, rather than their brains but the likes of the Davis, King, Law and Sam Buckingham were not going to be intimidated, they and the other 10 performed like true Hurricanes. The last five minutes there was some superb 14-man rugby and great spirit from the visitors, it was a whole team effort that got Woody within striking distance, only for him to unselfishly lay off the ball to Newton senior and set him away for his second try of the day. Sandown’s last try came from Gales and followed some brilliant play from overworked winger Harrison Fyfe. Southampton weren’t finished though and through a last-minute scrum on the Sandown 5m line they forced an error from the otherwise irrepressible and evergreen Simon Swallow to score the final points of the day on the final whistle, too little too late, final score 41 - 46 to Sandown & Shanklin RFC.
A big thank you from all the players to Victoria Winter for her first aid skills and managing to keep every one of us on the field for the full 80.
This was a stellar performance from a side bought together as late as mid-morning on match day. A truly memorable match that will undoubtedly live on in Hurricanes stories for years to come. An absolute pleasure.
By Simon Swallow, (Captain on the day)