FOR all those who came along to Fairway Park on Saturday afternoon, the top of the Hampshire Premiership table clash between the Hurricanes and leaders Basingstoke lived up to its billing as a titanic match of the season.

Sandown and Shanklin were desperate to avenge their 50-0 defeat to Basingstoke early in the season and leapfrog them in the table.

The match was a fantastic advert for Isle of Wight rugby.

Isle of Wight County Press:

In a very physical, fascinating contest throughout, with top class rugby played, the Hurricanes gained more of a foothold in the early stages.

From a penalty kicked into the visitors’ corner, a secure maul caught by Sam Rees was driven over the line and dotted down by Zak Chiverton.

It was not long before the Islanders came under pressure, succumbing to a penalty.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Joshua Wetherick (in blue) carrying the attack to Basingstoke.

Sandown and Shanklin responded well, threatening Basingstoke’s 22 and, from another strong maul, they again drove over for Chiverton’s second try and a 12-3 lead.

The Hurricanes did superbly to repel Basingstoke’s incessant attacks, preventing their forwards from driving over the try line, with full backs Ben Sanderson and Ben Shannon defending brilliantly.

But a quick-tapped penalty led to a try for Basingstoke, who then added another just before the break to lead 13-12.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Chiverton was sin-binned for a bad tackle, which cost the home side dearly.

As Basingstoke hammered at the Hurricanes’ defensive line, they finally barged over to score to give them an eight-point cushion.

But the momentum swung back in the Hurricanes’ favour and, after sustained attack, swift hands from the home side’s backline found Chiverton out wide for his hat-trick in the final moments.

Tom Borrer added the extras.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Hurricanes player Sam Tyson (wearing 12) in action against Basingstoke.

After the game, the Hurricanes’ director of rugby, Damien Marriott, said: “It was disappointing to taste defeat, yet I could not fault the boys and their efforts.

“We gave everything for the badge, the club and the supporters.

“The boys learned some really important lessons on what it is like playing against a great side.

“In fact, we probably learned more about ourselves today than if we had won.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We will take this into our remaining games for the season and keep the pressure on Basingstoke.”

The first team have a week off before their next Hampshire Premiership fixture, which will be away to Millbrook on Saturday, January 26.

The seconds will play away at Romsey II in Hampshire 4 on Saturday.

Hurricanes: Shannon, Chiverton, Richommme, Hunter, Flux (capt), Bagnall, Hopper, Rees, Borrer, Mitchell, Wetherick, Tyson, Wedderkop, Williams, Sanderson. Subs: Tyas, Branston, Williams.