A DRAMATIC semi-final victory at Farnborough took the Island into the Hampshire Plate final for the first time in 23 years.

In a topsy-turvy contest, Isle of Wight, the underdogs, fought hard to earn their win — but were pushed to the limit.

Having lost in the semi-finals to the same opposition twice in recent years, Isle of Wight were determined not to suffer a hat-trick against the struggling Hampshire Premier side.

Isle of Wight, playing with wind, began well, with strong, driving play, and scored the opening try through Luke Blackman, converted by Lewis Murray.

But minutes later, Isle of Wight conceded a try to the hosts, with the conversion fluffed.

As the first half developed, Isle of Wight edged it, thanks to strong carries from Blackman and Andy Brown.

Murray then struck a penalty goal, before striking the crossbar with an effort from half-way.

However, as Isle of Wight moved the ball wide and looked poised to score again, the Farnborough winger intercepted to race in for a try to level the scores — then led 13-10 at the interval with a penalty.

The home side were on top in the second half — pushing the Islanders back — but thanks to their solid defence, the Rangers were able to counter and score.

A brilliant Murray kick was gathered by Chris Ormerod, who ran in for a fine score.

Farnborough hit back again — spoiling an Isle of Wight line-out ball and scoring a converted try.

Isle of Wight, trailing 20-15, weathered another storm before going on to play some of their best rugby, and from a string of phases, slick hands from the backs fed replacement, Cameron Browne, who stepped inside expertly to touch down, converted by Murray, to go 22-20 up.

In eight nervy minutes of stoppage time, Farnborough had one final chance from an angled 40m penalty and Isle of Wight hearts were in their mouths as the kick dropped just wide and short.

Isle of Wight line-up: Huish, Jones-Evans, Bettum, D.Blackman (capt), Ormerod, Murray, Marriott, Blackburn, Newnham, Brown, Raunigger, Pudney, Jones, Puckett, L.Blackman. Replacements: Joyce, Browne, Langdon.