THIS Hampshire Division One contest took place in miserable conditions at Ventnor’s otherwise picturesque ground high up overlooking the sea.

Driving rain and swirling wind greeted the players as spectators huddled under cover in front of the Clubhouse.

Romsey started strongly, pinning Ventnor back inside their own 22m line and forcing errors from the home side. The under pressure hosts conceded numerous penalties in the opening minutes before finally making ground into Romsey’s 22. Ventnor was quickly repulsed by excellent Romsey defence and shortly afterwards Ventnor infringed yet again just short of their own 10m line in centre field. Romsey, led by stand in captain Tristan Pattison in the absence of the injured Rob Hart, elected to kick for goal despite the conditions. Isaac Pitt stepped up and kicked beautifully to give the visitors a 3 – 0 lead.

Romsey continued to press and to their credit avoided giving away the multiple penalties that characterised the opening spell of last weeks match, leaving the errors to Ventnor. Sure enough, another penalty far out on the left side saw Pitt attempt to kick for goal and his effort soared through the posts defying the howling wind making the score Romsey 6 – 0 Ventnor.

With line outs evenly matched and Romsey’s eight giving as good as they got in the set scrums together with excellent defence by the threequarters Ventnor’s attacking efforts were nullified. There is no doubt that at this stage Romsey were controlling the game overall.

After an excellent kick to touch by Pitt, Romsey stole the Ventnor throw and drove for the line before the rolling maul collapsed and Romsey gave away a rare penalty allowing Ventnor to clear their lines temporarily.

Still under pressure, Ventnor infringed yet again and the reliable Pitt stepped up to take the kick 15 metres in from the touchline which again flew through the posts giving Romsey a 9 -0 lead, which was well deserved.

As half time approached the Romsey back room staff rather surprisingly decided to make some changes in the front row taking off the two regular props.

In the ensuing scrum Ventnor immediately asserted dominance and drove the Romsey eight backwards to cheers from the crowd. This gave renewed heart to a Ventnor side which up to that moment was looking subdued and unlikely to come back into the game. Romsey held out for the last few minutes of the half and retained their 9 – 0 lead.

As the referee and the Ventnor side scuttled into the changing rooms for much-needed half time relief from the weather Romsey surprisingly elected to stay out on the pitch in a huddle potentially getting cold in the wind and rain.

Buoyed by the warmth of the changing room and the new found scrum dominance gifted to them by Romsey’s inexplicable personnel changes, Ventnor immediately started the 2nd half on the offensive. Within the first five minutes the Romsey scrum was driven back many metres back over their own line resulting in a Ventnor try which they were unable to convert so Romsey retained a 9 – 5 lead.

Romsey continued to compete well but continued to be hampered by further positional changes directed from the touchline. While Romsey played their hearts out and some of the positional errors were addressed at least partially, the momentum of the game had swung decisively toward Ventnor who now had their tails well and truly up. Two late tries gave the hosts a 15 – 9 win which did not reflect Romsey’s potential giving the coaching staff much food for thought in terms of the ill advised substitutions.

The Romsey team were understandably down after the game knowing that a potential win had been snatched from their grasp by factors beyond their control. Romsey must now regroup and have a break in league matches until October 16 when they face Fawley at the Sports Centre.