Counties Five Hampshire rugby: New Milton seconds bounce back with win against Ventnor
Counties Five Hampshire South West
Ventnor RFC II 14
New Milton RFC II 38
AFTER a disappointing defeat the previous week, a determined New Milton RFC seconds defeated Ventnor 38-14 after travelling to the Isle of Wight.
On a bitterly cold day, the team's bus was held up on the way to Ventnor by an overturned car a symbol, perhaps, of the home team's eventual capitulation.
Milton got off to a fast start, working their way into Ventnor's 22 and winning a line-out. Leaping flanker Gabe Short, a totemic operator throughout the match, seized the ball and, several phases later, fly-half Joe Eldridge eased over for a try.
But joy quickly turned to misery when influential back-rower Dylan Colein-Gill injured a knee and had to go off. Paul Eldridge came on in the second row to join Duncan Wood, and they were magnificent.
The change meant Alex Adkin moved into the back row and had a superb game in every facet; running, tackling and in the set pieces.
Centre Tom Gould then burst through several tackles to score the first of his three tries, followed quickly by his second.
New Milton relaxed a little, with Ventnor storming back and crossing the try-line twice before the break.
The visitors held on well, largely thanks to their impressive scrum of hooker Freddy Hodges and gnarled veteran props Ed Baker and Steve Dossett.
After the break, Milton needed to reassert their superiority – and they did just that. After winning a line-out near the Ventnor line, a splendid maul ensued, with number eight Matt Colein orchestrating the manoeuvre which led to Hodges going over.
In the second period, Milton played some attractive rugby. Dave Bateman had a huge game, and wingers Matt Doe and player-of-the-match Russ Eldridge were dangerous, as was free-flowing full-back George Knight.
New Milton eventually pulled away from their Island hosts, with Joe Eldridge scoring his second and Gould again finding his way to the line.
Ben Angel and John Gunn were introduced into the back row and were instrumental in preventing Ventnor from getting out of their own 22 for long periods.
Even with Adkin and Wood limping off, Milton had enough to hold on for a bonus-point win.
Scrum-half Matt Wale used his wise head and lethal boot to keep his team in the opposition half, and it was he and Eldridge who, between them, knocked over four conversions.