Sandown & Shanklin RFC welcomed fourth placed Fordingbridge RFC, in a highly anticipated fixture.
The Hurricanes elected to start in the bottom half of the field and from the kick off, set about attempting to breakdown the Fordingbridge defence. After some promising play and keeping the ball in hand, a penalty against the home side earned the visitors an early opportunity to take the initiative and go ahead 0-3.
The returning Sam Tyson restarted the game, and after Fordingbridge claimed the ball and attempted to play out of their half, an infringement at the breakdown allowed fly half Tyson to kick the Hurricanes into the Fordingbridge half. From the resulting line out, a well set maul was formed and driven across the Bridge try line with, Triangle Cables Man of the Match Zak Chiverton dotting down. Flux lined up the conversion but unfortunately it fell wide, however this put the Hurricanes into the lead.
Despite the dominance, it was the visitors who struck next, with a well worked move out flanking the Hurries defence, and allowing space for their winger to crash over. With the conversion missed, the Hurricanes fought back, and their strong forward play earned the opportunity for Flux to convert a penalty and square the scores up – with ten or so minutes left in the half. The visitors finished the half with another try in the corner, which put them ahead at the half time break 13 – 8.
The second half started the brightest for Sandown, as their pressure at the set piece had the Fordingbridge side struggling to play out of the bottom corner of the pitch. Another well-built maul marched from outside the 22 ominously to the try line. With it being brought down illegally a penalty was accrued, although the Hurricanes didn’t require it, as a powerful Luke Hunter drive found his way over in the corner. Flux unfortunately struck the post with the conversion attempt and the scores were now all squared up at 13 apiece. The testing restarts from Fordingbridge were starting to be collected cleanly from the Hurricanes, and following a period of play in the middle of the field with some strong running from Chris Skelley, and Luke Chandler, the visitors gave away a penalty that Flux duly converted to swing the momentum and lead back toward the home side.
What followed in play, was similar to the 15 minutes that the Hurricanes suffered against Farnborough the week before. With the Hurricanes not clearing the lines fully, they allowed Fordingbrigde a foothold in their territory and they took their chance with aplomb.
However, after a number of penalties, Michael Barrett was sent to the sin bin.
This period was book ended by another score from Fordingbridge, as their scrum held the oncoming push from Sandown and provided the chance for their centre to crash over the line. With the conversion, this provided the visitors with a healthy margin in the scoreboard, 16-27.
In the last 20 minutes of the game and the Hurricanes back up to their full complement of players, the pressure was turned up on the visitors, as they struggled to repel the strong mauling game of the Hurricanes, who again drove a maul a good 20 metres into Fordingbridge territory before it was brought down. Nonetheless, the pressure told after a while and David Graham dotted over the line to push the scores up to 21-27 with time left to play on the clock.
However it was not to be for the Hurricanes, as they suffered their first defeat at home in 2017 and dented their hopes of pursuing second place Petersfield. Captain Sam Rees after the game was in reflective mood, congratulating Fordingbridge for a great game, but hopes that his side will take heart from this result and look to bounce back against local rivals Isle of Wight in two weeks time.
Final score: Sandown & Shanklin RFC 21 – 27 Fordingbridge 27
SSRFC XV: 1. Sam Flux 2. Zak Chiverton, 3. Christopher Skelley, 4. Luke Hunter, 5. Sam Rees (c), 6. Sam Branston, 7. Ben Kulik, 8. Harrison Booth; 9. Jacob Jordan, 10. Sam Tyson, 11. Michael Barrett, 12. Luke Chandler, 13. David Graham, 14. Harvey Kirkby, 15. Harry Hopper.
Subs: 16. Adam Tyas, 17. Andrew John, 18. Harry Miselbach.
Contributed match report