IWRFC 1st XV  17 Fareham Heathens 8

IWRFC started the New Year with a fine home win against Fareham Heathens in what, in horse-racing terms would be very heavy going, but with the rain holding off for most of the game.

The visitors chose to play with the slope and wind, but the Island, led by some excellent forward carrying, had the better part of the first 20 minutes. Nonetheless, despite regular visits to Heathens 22, the final pass or phase went awry and scoring opportunities passed by. However, on one such visit, forward drives forced the visitors to commit to their defence and when the ball was moved to Tom Marriott, full back Mark Waterer gathered the pass and was in for the first try.

Within a couple of minutes, Heathens forward driving of their own allowed them to pull the scores level.

With the score remaining 5-5 at half time, the home side turned to play with the slope and looked confident. However Heathens were not in the top four in the league for nothing and came strongly at the homesters. Gaining a penalty in front of the posts, the choice was to go for the kick at goal and success led to them taking the lead 5-8.

This seemed to raise the effort of the Island, as they continued to dominate the scrum. With one awarded some 10 metres out, the visitors' eight were marched backwards and as they broke up, Fountain Inn man of the match Luke Blackman crashed over to give IW a 10-8 lead.

With 7 minutes remaining further Island pressure led to Andrew Brown scoring and George Huish adding the conversion, stretching their advantage beyond a score.

With three tries the Island looked for a fourth for a bonus point, but Heathens also knew that a further score for them would give them a losing bonus point. This meant the last few minutes were a close affair and there would be no further score.

Both sides deserved credit for producing such an entertaining game in such conditions, it being difficult to recognise one muddied team from another by the end. Evidence of the effort, especially from the forwards saw IW’s Biffa Man of the Match award going to hooker Ian Bennett. IW look forward to next Saturday’s league fixture at Overton.

IWRFC: Waterer, Huish, Stirrup, D Blackman, Jones-Evans, Marriott, Augustus, L Blackman, Webster, Brown, Pudney, Blackburn, Keyes, Bennett, Newnham. Replacements: D Bishop, Wallace, Warvill.

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