Vectis RFC V's Alton RFC
By Nathan Tombleson
Fourteen men left standing (just)
After a slightly “stalled” start to the day Vectis sailed off the island with a slightly depleted squad of only 14 players. At the request from the lads to get hold of a minibus, we had travelled feeling more together as a team, and arrived fully psyched up and ready to play rugby. A big “thank you” must go to Harry’s dad for lending us the SBA bus, and for Barny Thomas for ensuring the pre-match ambience was top notch via his iPod and speaker. “Doris of the day” was decided before any competitive sport had commenced, with Aaron Meakin forgetting his boots, it was down to Nathan to save Oscar Pusey from playing yet another game in the front row!
For the first quarter of the game, it was equal territory and possession for both sides. Good Vectis performance all round with some lovely build ups of phases, great “pick and go’s up the middle from our back-row duo Barny Thomas and Oscar Pusey, followed up by crisp passing from our makeshift halfback combo of James Reed and the versatile Harry Miselbach. Unfortunately, all this effort came to no avail, and it was Alton that dotted down first to make it 5-0.
With senior rugby beckoning, Vectis colts took responsibility for team selection/tactics and had decided to and not play a number 8, a big decision, for which the tight 5 (Elys Normas, Luke Henaghan, Aaron Meakin, Drew-Connor Tombleson and Tom Randall) rewarded the faith with strong performances at scrum time. After a misplaced Alton restart, we won a scrum in middle of park, lightening quick ball from the half backs fed to Luke W who looked left at his new centre partner (yes really it is Damian Seber) and thought “nah - I'll go back myself”… After jinxing through a veritable chicane of Alton three quarters, Luke Wedderkop took his more traditional direct route touching down smack bang in the middle of the posts. Max Wheeler slotted the extra 2 and Vectis were 5-7 ahead as we approached the second quarter of the game.
A few decent runs out from our full back George Lewrence, and with accurate territorial kicking from Luke W, it was Vectis that generally had the upper hand throughout the first half. In hindsight, we had a few penalties that were definitely in Max’s range, and perhaps we should of taken the points? Unfortunately, we put ourselves under too much pressure in our own 22 for which we couldn't exit, and despite some devilish team tackling (particular from Micheal Joyce and his best mate the touch line), Alton’s barrage of attack paid off and we went into the half time team talk down at 10-7.
9 Alton changes in the second half, saw them dotting over with 2 early tries in the first 5 mins, and we found ourselves 20-7 needing a quick score to put us back in the game. Again, we found ourselves too often playing out of our own 22, and with our conventional exit strategies seemingly failing us, Vectis set up a superb driving maul. Now, we have been working on this in training and it was very pleasing for the coaches to watch Vectis rumbling up the centre of the park. What we didn’t expect to see popping out from the front of maul (and taking half the opposition pack with him) was Luke W who after starting the process from almost under the posts made it to the half way line before offloading the ball and taking a well-earned breather!
A great restart taken by Micheal who is settling into his new life on the wing, and ferocious tackling particularly from “Player of the Day” James epitomised the enormous heart with which Vectis colts played today. After some courageous defensive efforts from Elys, Tom and Drew-Connor holding off numerous line out drives and 5m scrums, Alton eventually broke through the whitewash and the game was effectively over going into the last quarter at 25-7.
Despite this an emphatic effort from our debutant outside centre and talismanic leader (yes, it really is Damian) stretched their defence some 70m back and only through a last ditched tackle into touch denied George from a well-earned consolation try. Dubious decision making from the ref, and a mysterious appearance from Alton’s 15th player, created too many golden opportunities for them. Clinical finishing ensured their score line, which certainly did not reflect the game, and we ended on the wrong side of 39-7.
All in all, a massive effort from a small squad of players with a big collective heart. Despite the score line, our colts should feel very proud of playing to the 69th minute today, and with a home game against Eastleigh in a fortnight we have everything to play for in the latter stages of the season. Lastly, we are pleased to announce that Luke H did indeed leave in time for work, and this week he didn't even need too much assistance from the ref!
By Dave Owen